Cairns & Inuksuks Glossary of Hiking Terms
Cairn: a pile of rocks used to indicate a route or a summit. The word cairn originates from the Scottish Gaelic word carn. A cairn can be either large and elaborate or as simple as a small pile of rocks. To be effective a cairn marking a trail has to just be noticeable and obviously man-made. In the alpine areas around Whistler, above the treeline, cairns are the main method of marking a route. In the spring and fall when snow covers alpine trails, cairns mark many routes. An inuksuk is the name for a cairn used by peoples of the Arctic region of North America. Though an inuksuk can take many forms similar to a cairn, it is usually represented by large rocks formed into a human shape. The word inuksuk literally translates from two separate Inuit words, inuk "person" and suk "substitute". The 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver and Whistler used the inuksuk for the logo of the games. Today you will find several giant rock inuksuks in Vancouver and Whistler at various places. In Whistler there is an impressive inuksuk, several metres high a the peak of Whistler Mountain.
Russet Lake is a fantastic alpine lake that lays at the base of the Fissile. The Fissile is the strikingly bronze coloured mountain so visible from Whistler Village. From the Village look into the distance at the Peak to Peak hanging between Whistler and Blackcomb and you will see the Fissile. Its pyramid shape in the distance perfectly separates the two mountains.
Though Russet Lake is not terribly impressive in terms of size or colour, the valley around it is remarkably beautiful. The colours change from moment to moment in and extraordinary way. The distinctive colour of the Fissile and the stark grey of the mountains around contrast amazingly with the blue of the lake and green grass in the valley. So many different factors fill the place with colour.
There is a considerable amount of exploring available in the valley around Russet Lake. The fissile is a difficult but very feasible hike from Russet Lake. Below Russet Lake is a very accessible glacier as well as a bonanza of glacier formed landscape features, inviting hours of interesting exploration. Above Russet Lake there is a beautiful snow covered ridge that commands incredible views all around and if you have the energy makes for a spectacular tent site.
Glossary of Hiking Terms Whistler Hiking Trails