I have no real opinion on cairns on or near existing trails to keep the herds in line. My point was that off trail they are a bit annoying. One thing I would point out is that they are not useful, as their placement is governed by the perspective of the maker. A later traveler cannot necessarily interpret their purpose. Heading from Lake Peak down the ridge toward the 10 K ridge, for example, its a pick your way situation through brush, trees, and little rocky peaks. I’ve traveled this area multiple times and am pretty sure I’ve never taken the same route twice. And yet on nearly every winding path I’ve chosen, cairns appear, but there are not enough to really follow. So someone had an idea of why it was necessary. But no one else could possibly figure it out.
As I said, in the mountains, there is NSEW and UP and DOWN. Maybe I’m just an insensitive jerk, but if you go off trail, you should be able to figure it out.
To Jack’s point about getting rid of trails. It’s something I’ve thought about often. Part of me thinks that would be great. That’s why I like to spend so much time in the south eastern part of the wilderness. No trails. But I also think its important for all to have access to wilderness experience–that’s sort of the point.
I’m just not crazy about cairns.