The Importance of Cairns

carinnoun  \’kern\ a heap of stones piled up as a memorial or as a landmark

Labor Day weekend with two friends I hiked Mt. Washington in New Hampshire. Due to the extreme flooding and washed out roads from Hurricane Irene we chose a less travelled trail up the mountain. For most of the hike it was only us on the trail. Mt. Washington is 6,288 feet and boasts of being “Home of the World’s Worst Weather.” Though we planned to summit the mountain, it is rare to have a view from the top and the day was without exception as the summit was covered in clouds. This meant we hiked literally in a cloud much of the time on the way up.

We hiked from cairn to cairn. The cairns both assured us that we were on the trail but also where our next few steps should be headed. Most often we could not see more than one cairn ahead. The clouds were too heavy and though we desired at times to see more of the trail it was impossible. What a strong image we most often experience our relationship with God. There is challenge and trust with each step. God does not show us more of our journey than we both need or can handle. There were times that if we were able to see the mountain in front of us we would have been discouraging and even overwhelming. Our goal however was to make it to the cairn in site and nearly miraculously as we approached the next cairn would appear from the clouds. It happened over and over again without fail. Occasionally there would be a moment of anxiety when we didn’t see the next cairn but if I couldn’t find it a friend would and we would continue the journey.

The hike for me was part of my 40 for 40 experience this year. I don’t want to miss that God continues to give me spiritual cairns to guide me. Though I have been discouraged on my journey at times He continues to be faithful to always provide a cairn to aim for. What cairn has God provided for you to journey toward?



Posted on September 21, 2011, in 40 for 40, Don't Miss, Faith, Friends and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. I’ve hiked Mt Washington on several occasions. I even did a documentary up there called Mt. Washington: Second Greatest Show on Earth. Wonderful experience. But even more so, your story about the cairns. I create them, I look for them, and yes, I sometimes get the chance to guide my hikes by following them.

    Thank you

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