Cairns: Stones of Remembrance


Go back into the Jordan riverbed to the covenant chest of the Eternal your God, and each carry a stone upon your shoulder, (twelve stones for the twelve tribes of the Israelites) so that we may build a memorial of this day. Someday when your children ask you, “Why are these stones piled up here?” you will tell them how the waters of the Jordan parted as the covenant chest of the Eternal One crossed the river, and these stones will fix that memory for the Israelites forever.Joshua 4:5-7 The Voice

Oak Creek at Red Rocks State Park Sedona

Eight years ago, we celebrated a dear friend’s birthday under Teapot Rock in Sedona, AZ. We all decided to take a hike in the Red Rocks State Park.  The groups hiked along the Oak Creek and discovered hundred of cairns, piles of rocks, left by other visitors to memorialize their visit. 

Red Rocks State Park after flood

We hiked up the mountain (seen in the distance). We all distinctly remembered the length of time to climb the mountain.  One and one-half hours.  We reached the top of the trail and decided to return the same way we came instead of descending the other side of the mountain.  When we came in view of the cars in the parking lot, we checked our watches.  We had descended and completed the same hike in 30 minutes.  Thirty minutes.  Not one and one-half hours.  How is this possible?  I have no idea.  

Remnants of Cairns

Other friends and I went in search of this area on this visit, but they had an Oak Creek flood and all the cairns were washed away.  I still remembered the exact place.  I will never forget it. 

What do you remember about specific hikes? When have you returned to a place? Why? How would you explain the time difference in the hike?

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