I HATE DUCKS. Not our gentle, feathered brethren, but the rock piles left all over the backcountry by well-meaning Samaritans who want to show other hikers the way.

Dear cairn-builders, I appreciate your thoughtfulness, the route; I’m out there to test my own navigation skills. And, frankly, it seems I’m often better at it than you: If I’m momentarily off my intended track and searching for it, one of your little markers, I’ve learned, may not lead me to salvation at all, but further into trouble, having been placed by a wandering soul who was even more disoriented than I.

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