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So Much for ‘Leave No Trace’

| June 15, 2010

Here’s an interesting photo Phil Evans took by Mirror Lake and his daughter Laura posted on Flickr. I’m not sure what’s going on with this didn’t even know it was going on in, fact. But the last thing I want to see in someplace beautiful like Yosemite is a bunch of “ducks”. It looks more like a rock garden than wilderness. So much for Leave No Trace.

Anyone have any insight?

Great photo, Phil. Thanks for posting the photo, Laura.

Photo by Phil Evans.


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Category: Photography


About Loyd: For over 30 years I've enjoyed hiking, backpacking, fishing, photographing and exploring Yosemite and the Sierra Nevada. More About the Author. View author profile.

Comments (23)

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  1. Zach says:

    Honestly if I saw that there I’d prolly kick them all down… looks ugly and that is not Yosemite.

  2. Jen says:

    Aw, I think it’s neat. It’s certainly not as bad as dirty diapers tossed on the roadside, or other man-made, disgusting trash you find in inappropriate places.

    • admin says:

      Yes I’d love to put some of that disgusting trash in the person who tossed it’s “inappropriate place” if you get my drift.

  3. willow says:

    Dude, it’s just some stacked up rocks. Feel free to kick over those horrible, offensive things after you park your car with all the others, enjoy that pizza and soda at Degnan’s, and use one of the many flush toilets found throughout the park.

  4. Kevin says:

    I see this up in the Canadian Rockies all of the time. It’s a 21st century version of cairns, apparently very hip with the young-set mountaineering crowd. One or two isn’t that bad, but this many just seems disrespectful.

    • admin says:

      There was a story in Backpacker Mag a couple of years ago about a lake in the Kings Canyon area that had THOUSANDS of ducks stacked 5-6 feet high from people in the 1920s-1950s. The lake was above tree line in a glacial cirque and very beautiful, but everywhere you looked was another duck. I don’t believe seeing one once in a while is bad but like all things, moderation is key. Twenty is just too much.

  5. Jim Seybert says:

    Torn – first glance: Oh how awful.
    Second thought – what a funny thing.
    Further thought – no where near as awful as trash, diapers, and initials carved into a tree or bench.
    I guess it’s a good thing people had THIS much fun and were so engaged they took the time to personalize this in a way that eventually would tumble back into nature.
    Then again – this could be the work of extra terrestrials leaving us a message, in which case I hope they stopped to pay their entrance fee on the way out. :)

  6. Rich says:

    Such a blight on the natural beauty of Yosemite. I go to Yosemite to see nature’s work, not man’s work. These are not Ducks…I’ve heard its a group of people doing this, and that it’s a part of their religious practice.

    • admin says:

      Yes there’s a religion where offerings are wrapped in banana leaves and then it’s placed under a rock. Local indigenous peoples don’t have such a practice that I know of. I suspect this was one person doing a couple then other people saw it and decided to add to it making a meme.

  7. Susan says:

    Ridiculous. This should be considered vandalism, just like graffiti and tagging. It ruins the wilderness experience and should be stopped. I’d knock all of these down, and would feel like I was doing a good service for fellow visitors.

  8. Edie says:

    Just one word: Erleichda.

  9. Ryan says:

    Just head over there and knock em all down. Easy as that! Hopefully people will continue to knock em down.

  10. Kurt says:

    As an employee of Leave No Trace, I have recently seen this discussion before: http://leavenotracecommunity.blogspot.com/2010/04/tolerance-levels.html

    Certainly the location plays a big role in our perception upon “discovering” such a find. I have seen one such rock stack garden in a center median that struck me as absolutely beautiful. Not so sure I would think the same at Mirror Lake.

  11. Joe says:

    Mirror Lake gets more visitors in any given summer than the entire office building I work in. It’s hardly “wilderness”.

    The cairns don’t bother me. Trash, carved trees and benches, Sharpie tagging on the granite — that’s bothersome. Stacking some rocks? Hardly registers.

  12. Jane says:

    It’s ugly – Disneyland sculpture. Don’t people go to places like Yosemite to see what the elements have created, not what people have created? At least the elements can be counted on to knock it down again at some point! But more importantly, let’s not forget – all those rocks are used as shelter and foraging places for many creatures – insects, lizards, small mammals. How many of those had their environments disrupted, or were trodden on, injured or killed, by the feet stomping all over the place in this demolition derby.

  13. John Wall says:

    Were these made at the base of the recent rockslide?

  14. Rowe says:

    I think its beautiful.

  15. Moedad says:

    The stacks are confined to the east end of the old Mirror Lake parking lot, right at the top of the granite steps leading down to the lake. I was there on Tuesday the 15th. Everybody seemed to be very surprised to see them, and while there were comments from some who thought they were inappropriate, nobody was kicking them over. One woman seemed ready to challenge folks that were questioning this expression of art (for lack of a better word).

  16. Edie Howe says:

    Loyd,
    To truly understand erleichda, read “Jitterbug Perfume”.

    I don’t have the patience to build stuff like these towers. Nor do I want to spend the time deconstructing them. I’d be more inclined to appreciate the patience it took to build them, maybe snap a few pics, and then continue on my way.

    Sure, it may not be LNT, but it’s way less objectionable than screaming kids or dogs taking a dump–both of which make me long for an Uzzi.

    There’s way worse on the trail to get all het-up about. Erleichda.

  17. Edie Howe says:

    Kicking over rock towers, kicking down sandcastles. Discuss.

    • admin says:

      Here raise my taxes so the NPS can now pay someone to go tear these apart and restore the area to what it was before someone decided nature needed “improving”. Not like I don’t pay enough taxes already.

      Leave it like you found it. Nature is doing a fine job by herself.

  18. effingrockstackingmorons says:

    Any is too many.

    Unless it is built by a ranger to mark a trail it is vandalism. There’s no debate to be had.

    Comparisons to sandcastles are useless and moronic. Children’s sandcastles erode with the tide and create no impact on the environment.

    Rock stacks never erode and may take seasons, decades, millenia, eons… just to fall over. Removing rocks from and/or stacking rocks in a river bed and/or soil has a huge effect on erosion.

    If you’re too stupid to figure out what “leave no trace means” you don’t deserve to share the wilderness with those who do.

    I don’t want to spend my hard earned time off traveling into public wilderness to see what some ass clown considers art or personal expression. Express yourself on your own effing property, asshole.