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Ducked Route?
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Eric Binder
(Ebinder)

Locale: New England
Ducked Route? on 02/02/2010 20:34:48 MST Print View

Could someone please explain to me what a ducked route is? And, also what is a duck trail marker?

Thank you for your help!

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Ducked Route? on 02/02/2010 20:44:12 MST Print View

"Could someone please explain to me what a ducked route is? And, also what is a duck trail marker?"

Last things first: A duck is a minimum of 2, but usually 3, stones stacked one on top of the other, and is used to mark an indistinct trail or off trail route. A ducked route is one of the above mentioned routes with ducks strung out along the route to mark it. Another type of marker is a cairn, which is a pyramidal stack of rocks used for the same purpose, where the base of the pyramid consists of more than one rock, as opposed to a duck where only one rock is in contact with the ground. At least that's the terminology I learned in California. Up here in the soggy Northwest, they are all called cairns. Terminology varies from place to place, but the idea is the same.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Ducked Route? on 02/03/2010 02:37:43 MST Print View

See
http://www.bearbnz.net/peaks/trail_etiquette/etiquette.htm
for a photo of a genuine 'duck' marker. Note it is very different from a typical 'cairn' which is a pile of rocks.

Cheers

Robert Blean
(blean) - MLife

Locale: San Jose -- too far from Sierras
Re: Re: Ducked Route? on 02/03/2010 03:00:56 MST Print View

I am not convinced about his remark about cairns not being used as trail markers. I have seen places where the official trail is marked by good-sized official cairns, whose purpose is to have something for those who need it to follow in white-outs (etc).

I'm not trying to argue whether such things *should* exist -- just that they do, and they are put there by the official trail maintainers -- not well-intentioned individuals.

-- Bob

Eric Binder
(Ebinder)

Locale: New England
Ducked Route - Thank you! on 02/03/2010 08:56:05 MST Print View

Thank you very much guys.

I really appreciate it. I’m from the North East and am very familiar with cairns. However, I'm planning an off trail trip into Yosemite this year and I kept on reading about ducks. You’re right terminology is different everywhere you go. Thank you for the web site Roger. If I saw little stacks of 3 rocks I would guess a marker, of some kind, but now I'm glad to know they have a name and a purpose, and not some random marker.

Thanks again guys! See you on the trails!

Eric

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: Ducked Route - Thank you! on 02/03/2010 10:03:05 MST Print View

"I'm glad to know they have a name and a purpose, and not some random marker."

Since you mention Yosemite, you need to at least be aware that ducks can multiply at a prodigious rate on some routes, leaving a bewildering array of options.

Not so much in the backcountry, but quite real in the maze of the frontcountry, unfortunately where you most need clarity.

Just take the longest view possible, and sort from there.

David Olsen
(oware)

Locale: Steptoe Butte
ducks and cairns on 02/03/2010 10:16:04 MST Print View

Most folks I know dismantle the unofficial ones as they
lead people to create new, poorly planned trails where there were none. Same with fire rings.

It is also a ticket-able offense in the US National Parks
to build them. Even a single cairn at an intersection to leave a short term note to a following party.

Ask me how I know.

Dave T
(DaveT) - F
ducks on 02/03/2010 10:18:01 MST Print View

I take a dim view of ducks, and actively dismantle them unless they are specifically needed for REAL route finding (e.g. the "entrance" to a set of steep benches to a off-trail pass). I can't stand when there are ducks every 100' along an obvious Sierra trail. Who makes them? Boy Scouts? Bored hikers? In most cases, I really can't understand it.

The classic duckfest is doing the easy wander up to Mount Langley (14,042') south of Whitney. The way up is just a hike and scramble in DG, but the closer you get to the top, the more ducks there are. Near the top they are ALL over the place. I mean, how can you get lost? Keep walking up the gentle slopes until you can't go up more, take summit photo, then walk down.

Rob Lee
(roblee) - MLife

Locale: Southern High Plains
Re: ducks on 02/03/2010 11:49:52 MST Print View

"Ask me how I know."

I'm askin'

Sean Nordeen
(Miner) - F - M

Locale: SoCAL
Re: ducks on 02/03/2010 11:57:34 MST Print View

"I can't stand when there are ducks every 100' along an obvious Sierra trail"

The places where I've seen that are usually when there is often traffic when snow still covers the trails such as places along the PCT/JMT. What is an obvious route in August, isn't so obvious in June and I was quite happy to find a few of those when I did the PCT.

That said, I've also come across conflicting duck routes which are a PITA since you don't always know which is correct at first. They are nice to have at times, but some people are a little too quick to build a new one.

Edited by Miner on 02/03/2010 12:00:39 MST.

Art ...
(asandh) - F
. . . . . on 02/03/2010 12:07:33 MST Print View

. . . . .

Edited by asandh on 02/25/2010 12:53:34 MST.

Dave T
(DaveT) - F
ducks on 02/03/2010 12:28:30 MST Print View

> The places where I've seen that are usually when there is often traffic when snow still covers the trails such as places along the PCT/JMT. What is an obvious route in August, isn't so obvious in June and I was quite happy to find a few of those when I did the PCT.


But then the snow covers the little ducks too? Unless you are talking about the huge 3-5' talln cairn-style ones. But it's kinda a moot point IMO, since in the High Sierra, the navigation is usually dead easy (at least above timberline). If snow is covering the trail, you just figure out where you will next find it (e.g. along the right side of the lake down in the basin). I guess my general thought on them in the High Sierra (except in specific cases) is that if a hiker needs them to figure out where to go, they probably aren't really prepared (e.g. a topo map) or experienced enough to be there. And I'm really just against the crazy over-ducking of areas, not so much about ones here and there.

Blazes 10' up on trees along a route in the trees (covered in snow) is probably a better idea, although I'm sure they are lots of opinions about this too.

David Olsen
(oware)

Locale: Steptoe Butte
Re: Re: ducks on 02/03/2010 12:54:57 MST Print View

"I'm askin'"


A ranger in SEKI, for leaving a note on a 3 rock cairn for
folks behind me. The note was dated and also said if anyone
found this after the date to discard it properly and kick
the rocks back to the side of the trail. I know, not LNT.

Art-
When trails are not planned, they may be at too steep an
angle etc. and cause erosion problems. During big storms this lead to catastrophic events, other times it may
just add extra sediment to the watershed, which over time
can be bad for fish and such. It is especially bad for
cryptobiotic crusts.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soil_crust

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: ducks on 02/03/2010 18:00:25 MST Print View

"take a dim view of ducks, and actively dismantle them unless they are specifically needed for REAL route finding (e.g. the "entrance" to a set of steep benches to a off-trail pass). I can't stand when there are ducks every 100' along an obvious Sierra trail. Who makes them? Boy Scouts? Bored hikers? In most cases, I really can't understand it."

+1