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Queso's Cairn

Our golden retriever Queso has a (bad!) habit of bringing us rocks daily. We regularly let him loose into our back yard to do his business, to enthusiastically alert us if anyone has the gall to walk the wrong direction on the golf path 🤪, or simply to enjoy fresh air and sunshine. But, like many dogs when left to their own devices, he finds things to entertain himself. And in his case, it’s finding the perfect rock to sneak into the house. 😅 We keep a receptacle by the back door to collect his treasures, and he always reluctantly relinquishes his “prize” upon reentry, complete with low slinking wagging body language and squinty eyes. 🤣 This week I decided to re-purpose his daily gifts and make a cairn out of them. We went to a nearby creek, and I built the cairn (and rebuilt it when Q knocked it over, lol) while hubby and kiddo 2 (home from school – yay!), threw sticks for Queso to retrieve.

“Queso’s Cairn”:

Wet golden retriever next to a small cairn in Parker, Colorado

The behind the scenes (BTS) look of how I created it:

Behind the Scenes (BTS) of a dog photography session in Parker, Colorado

I bet some of you are wondering what the heck a cairn is. LOL. I first heard the term “cairn” while hiking Wilcox Pass in Alberta in 1999. It was a fairly wide point in the hike surrounded by fields, and we were unsure where the actual trail was. Other hikers passed by us going in the opposite direction and told us there’s a huge cairn up ahead to guide our way. Karen? Carrot? We had no idea what they were talking about! It wasn’t until later that we understood they had said CAIRN – a pile of rocks serving as a trail marker, used by hikers to indicate the path. Once we knew what they were, we would recognize them everywhere on our outdoor adventures – nestled tastefully into various landscapes as a simple, natural guide. Then somewhere along the line, “rock towers” came into vogue and they were EVERYWHERE, to the detriment of the natural spaces. I’m the first to admit that we built our fair share as a family – it seemed like a fun and harmless activity for an active, outdoorsy family with young boys. It wasn’t until much later that I realized it goes against Leave No Trace ethics, which was constructed to keep the wilderness pristine. In light of that, our cairn building has ceased – except for the above photo, after which I packed up our rocks, took them home, and scattered them back into the back yard. And, as you might suspect, Queso promptly found one of the ones we had used and brought it inside. 🧀😂

For some light reading about cairns, and to see how the National Park Service feels about them check out these resources:

For kicks, I went back to my old scrapbooking days and pulled out this gem, documenting our first encounter with the term cairn – straight from the pages of 1999! It seems like a lifetime ago!

Scrapbook pages from 1999 describing an experience with a cairn on Wilcox Pass in Alberta, Canada

And here are some of the beautiful “rock art” pieces we made as a family before we knew any better (all created back in 2018):

Cairns built in Breckenridge and Grand Lake Colorado, and in the Canadian Rockies at Grassi Lakes and the North Saskatchewan RiverSke


This concludes the educational portion of this blog post, LOL. More important than the (unethical) cairn building we accomplished this week, Queso had a BLAST in the creek!! Here are some fun (unedited) images from the session:

Filmstrip of (unedited) golden retriever images playing in a creek in Parker, Colorado   


Ginger Wick Photography is an award winning dog photographer specializing in creating beautiful custom artwork of dogs & their people. Based in Parker, CO serving the Denver area.





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