Parable of the Stacked Stones

Someone has gone before me, has found the best trails, and has placed the stacked stones intermittently along the way so when I come along, I don’t have to guess which way to go
I'm Michael Olpin. I'm really good at helping you get rid of your stress ... for good.

Article Highlights

  • Why all the stacked rocks?
  • I want this website to be a path marker for you – to help you along the path to a stress free life

I love to bike, hike, and run in the hills and mountains of northern and southern Utah.

I love the workout of going up.

I love the thrill and speed of coming down.

Best of all, I love the views I get when I reach the tops of the trails.


I particularly enjoy one trail that happens to be located only a few short minutes from where I live. Within minutes from home, I can find myself on a path where it immediately feels like no city exists anywhere nearby. I disappear into undeveloped terrain.

As I ride, walk, or run along this trail, I head to the top that is only about 3 miles up the hill. However, it is a rise in elevation of about 1000 feet. It is a terrific workout by bike or on foot.

Even more wonderful is the adventure I get each time I travel up the hill. The journey is varied and changing.

On occasion, it winds through forests; other parts are more like the desert. A brief bit of the trail near the top even feels very tropical. I also travel through a couple streams when the snow is still melting from high up the mountain during the spring and early summer. Most of the path is an eager reminder that I live in the Rocky Mountains – lots of rocks of all shapes and sizes.

At the top of this trek I always come upon the most magnificent scenery, the most beautiful rocks, and the air that is so clean and fresh. It is a place that is peaceful and serene.

When I first began hiking and biking this trail, I would find myself getting lost. There are many side trails that lead to places other than the top of the hill. Sometimes they lead to other sidetracked trails, winding here and there sometimes even coming to dead ends where dense forest makes the path impossible to continue. When I take these side paths, I inevitably find myself doubling back to the original trail toward the top.

One of the items that I noticed along this wonderful trail was stacked rocks. At first, I wasn’t sure why they were there, but it soon became clear that they had been placed by previous hikers to show that I am on the right path.  They were trail markers telling me to continue along this specific trail if I wanted to reach the top. When the trail came to a fork, a quick look up either trail would show me the one with the stacked rocks. That was the fork to take.

Someone has gone before me, has found the best trails, and has placed the stacked stones intermittently along the way so when I come along, I don’t have to guess which way to go. I simply enjoy the thrill and magnificence of the journey to the top. When I’m not sure I’m headed to the top, I look down, I see the stacked stones, and I trust that I am still on the right path.

That is what we hope this website will be for you, a trail marker, something that will help keep you on the right path of less stress, and optimum levels of health and wellness.

Look around, explore, and check out each category (Stress Prevention, Sleep, Weight Management, Relaxation, etc) to find what you are searching for as we provide the tools and knowledge to help you along your path to a less stressful life.

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  1. Keri C

    I really enjoyed reading this article because I know at times of extreme stress, I tend to “get lost” and lose focus on the things that really matter and are important in my life. It’s so awesome to know that there are those markers–family, friends, etc. that can get me back on track and give me that love, support and encouragement that I need to get back on the right path.

  2. Zack R.

    I like this story. I too enjoy being in the outdoors. I remember being younger around eleven and hiking up to the top of Ben Lomond and taking a wrong path. I remember the fear I felt not knowing where I was. I heard my family calling my name and they found me but from that day on every time we went hiking I always made trail markers or found something out of the ordinary that I could use as a trail marker.

  3. Patrick Raymond

    I like this parable. I feel that it goes along with many aspects of life. Once of which is parenting. Parents set up their “stacks of rocks” to keep their children on the right path. Although, it is still up to the children to decide if they are going to follow that path, or chose to travel a different one. This parable is a good reminder to everyone to set good examples and help others in choosing the “right” direction. When I come to a “fork” in my life, and I am able to turn to others for guidance and direction, it helps to reduce stress and bring peace of mind into my life.

  4. Ashley Peterson

    I think I got a littler more relaxed simply by reading about your wonderful journey to the top. It sounds like a very serene trail. I think there are few places left in this world that leave stacked rocks to help us stay on the right path, but it is amazing how something so simple can make our journeys a bit lighter and more enjoyable.

  5. Rico

    This was a very inspiring parable. Sometimes i forget about the “stacked stones” that tell us and help us keep going to get to that beautiful view at the end. Thanks for the reminder!

  6. Elizabeth U.

    This is a really great analogy. I’m an avid hiker of northern Utah, and it’s great when there are trail markers so clear like this. I think that another significant lesson of this parable is to trust and confide in others. Learning from other people’s triumphs and mistakes is an easy way to make decisions without much consequence for yourself. Thanks for writing this article; I’m going to use this analogy a lot.

  7. Arika

    I loved this article. I am someone who loves to be out doors. I seem to feel alot of stress these days. I know if I start making Biking, running, and excersise a priority this will be the best stress release! not to mention that we live in the best location for these types of adventures! this was really inspiring!

  8. Chels W

    This last weekend my husband and I hiked up to see Delicate Arch in Arches National Park. What a hike! Just like this story, hikers before us had placed stacked stones to guide us to such a beautiful, natural phenomenon. Without these stacked rocks we would have been so lost and led astray As is life, we are led by those before us who love and care for us. They want us to be happy in all aspects of our lives.

  9. Curt

    That is a way cool story. It makes me realize how grateful I am for those who pave the way before me in so many aspects of my life.

  10. Melyssa

    This article makes you stop and think about how many times in life your lost… and you search for one thing that snaps you back into reality, or just helps you find the way. You never know when you will take the trail that may lead you to a dead end, or even lose you along the way.

  11. nash

    I like this article cause it helps you know how to keep on track no matter the obsticle that is in your way. just to stay focused and relaxed while getting to the end.

  12. Jamison

    This article really inspired me not to get lost in my stresses. A stress shouldnt change how you live your life. You need to overcome them without altering lifestyles.

  13. Gwen

    I loved this parable and the reminder it is that we are not alone. We aren’t the only one on this path of life and we can not only learn from our life’s lessons but from others who have been on this part of the path before us. We don’t have to take the long way, or the way that won’t really get us where we want to go. How grateful I am for this!

  14. Raquel Sever

    Love this parable. A great reminder for us all.

  15. Jon

    This was a very insightful article. Thank you for sharing it with us.

  16. heidi hidalgo

    I really liked this article it was insproring and a great reminder that people still like nature ! : )

  17. Cait Miller

    This parable reminded me of the fairytale of Hansel and Gretel. They left a trail of breadcrumbs to get back home. The stacked rocks ultimately lead us home, where ever that may be for each one of us. In a sense, it is a guidance to a peaceful and more joyful state in life. It is a reminder that there are people before us that can help us learn from their mistakes and also their successes.

  18. Hadlee Rose

    I also loved this article and relate to how nature can help reduce stress. I find myself taking hikes more often when i’m under a lot of stress or going through something difficult, it helps to get out and enjoy the beauty of this world.

  19. Seth Daimler

    I can really relate to this article. I enjoy hiking and have encountered the same thing. Having the markers brings less stress into one’s life. Less stress is a happier, healthier life.

  20. Kaitlan

    This is a great modern day parable. It really made me realize the importance of following the paths of those who have gone before me and learning from their wisdom and experience. I also thought about the life I am living and hope that I have the wisdom to set paths that those who come after me will be grateful for.

  21. Kandice Hanenburg

    I really enjoyed this parable. It reminds you that it is okay to take a leap of faith.

  22. JaLynn

    I really liked this article. I think that the stacked stones really relate to our lives. We may be going along with life and find ourselvs lost and alone, but if we look hard enough we can always find help to get us right back on track.

  23. Tracy

    I love this story because it describes the exact same thing I do. I go on hikes and runs at the base of the mountain right above my school all time. It is covered in trails and I always take a side trail thinking it will get me to where I wanted to go. But of course I always end up backtracking. I want to be the person who stacks stones to help myself and others find the right path and stick to it. Consider it done the next time I go!

  24. Taylor

    This was a great article! I also enjoy to be outside hiking and riding to help relieve stress. Life may be rough at times and if you follow the correct path you’ll always find your way back home.

  25. Rebecca

    I loved reading this article. I love going hiking, camping, and pretty much anything outdoors. The descriptions made me feel like I was actually there hiking too, seeing the beautiful scenery.

  26. Steff Richardson

    This was a lovely parable and reminded me of this saying, “People take different roads seeking fulfillment and happiness. Just because they’re not on your road doesn’t mean they’ve gotten lost.”~ Daila Lama
    Or, to put it in personal terms, “Just because I’m not on they’re road, it doesn’t mean I’ve gotten lost either.”
    Sometimes it’s easy to think that you are lost until you see that there are many roads to the same destination.

    • Steff Richardson

      Silly girl…that would be “their” ahhh, the 5am comment….

  27. Michael

    I can really relate to this parable as I am a mountain biker as well. Wether i’m at work, at home being a father, or at school, life can get extremely stressful at times. Although there are gyms and other ways to release stress through exercise, nothing compares to being out in nature and getting away from it all.

  28. Jesse Clayburn

    I had a similar experience with my wife about a year ago in southern Connecticut. The place is very familiar for the tv show Gilmore Girls. As we hicked up a small mountain side we notice that there were some odd rock formations directly ahead of us. As we got closer to focusing view we noticed that they were rocks stacked upon each other. We at the time shared the same view, it must be because we are on the right path. As we walked the path the rock formation still continued and at sometime made different shapes, like a rainbow. It was wonderful and marvolous to look apon.

  29. Michael J.

    Parable of the Stacked Stones” caught my attention because I too have hiked a lot of trails in Cache Valley Utah. But the stacked stones reminded me of a trek down in Sedona Arizona where there were countless stacks of stones on every trail. Some reaching impressive heights. It called for me to stop and think about all those wonderful times with nature, the animals, and friends that went along for the ride. The path, meaning our life journey with all it’s obstacles, really is paved with markers along the way, especially now, in the 21st century. There is hardly anything that hasn’t been done, or a place that hasn’t been gone, but we have the tools to get there and nothing should hold us back.

  30. Lacy Simmons

    Wow! I love the connection he made with the stacked stones. I have found the stress management class very useful in my life. I am glad he created this website because I can always come back to it for help.

  31. Jed

    That is so true. What a great story.

  32. Amy Brown

    I love this! It is great to have markers for us by someone who knows about stress management.

  33. Jake

    I really enjoyed this article. I loved the analogy between hiking and stressful situations. I love to hike and bike as well so it was easy for me to connect. Sometimes when I’m feeling stressed about what to do in life I wish someone had gone ahead of me and put stacked rocks along the way. Something to tell me I am going down the right path.

  34. Lexi Archuleta

    I absolutely love this analogy, I know the panic feeling of being lost and not knowing where to turn. The feeling is very similar to life, we get lost and panicked, but being able to get a hand from others to pick you back up onto your feet is what is great about life. I love how the stacked stones were then not only for him but to help out theres. It reminded me of we aren’t alone and many other people have been in our same position.

  35. Tiara Collins

    I really liked this idea. It is nice to know that there are always people who are looking out for you when you don’t even know it. You can always find a way out of being lost, just look for the stones telling you that you are on the right path. I love it!!!!

  36. Ezralyn Belanio

    I really enjoyed reading your personal insight on things; it very refreshing to read. It’s a great analogy that everyone could probably relate to. That’s probably why so may be enjoy it! 🙂

  37. Abigail Budge

    I’m an avid hiker and I often go backpacking during the summer in Wyoming. I usually take several day hikes with my cousins and we usually just bushwack to the top of a peak somewhere near our camp. On occasion we see stacked rocks and when we do we look for more to follow. Knowing that someone has gone before me and marked the best way for me to go brings a sense of peace and comfort knowing that I’m going the right way. I try to look for “stacked rocks” in my own life that are telling me that I am going in the direction my life needs to go.

  38. Holly Parry

    I enjoyed reading this article. think that it would be a great help for recovering addicts. this article would be a great reminder that there are markers to help them stay on the path of recovery.

  39. Nathanael

    Its helpful to know that someone has gone through what I’m going through, and knows the path out of it.

  40. Claudia Hall

    I enjoyed reading this article. It reminded me of my parents who recently passed on and the marvelous life they prepared for me and the many wonderful things they taught me. It is a great comfort in knowing that we are not alone and others have gone on before us.

  41. Melissa Beardall

    I loved this article! First, just reading it took me there. The words are descriptive and beautiful. I am sitting here reading this article but biking through the hills. I had to remind myself that it is really 10:30pm and I’m at home with my daughter doing homework. I am from Utah, I have lived here my whole life and some of the trails that we have hear are just like what you described. I was able to feel it and use it as a relaxation tool, actually. I will be reading this again and again because of the feelings that I got while I was reading it. Thank you Dr. Olpin, Thank you for this article and the beautiful way that you put it down so that I could feel it.

  42. Amy Eskelsen

    Wow! This makes me want to get out and go for a hike. What a great way to grab on to reality and find peace.Also, for me, spiritual and well-being balance in life.

  43. Kellie

    I love to be outdoors and am an avid hiker. I have summited Mt. Whitney in California twice! If you ever have the privilege to go, do it, the beauty of the hike is unbelieveable! On the hundreds of hikes I’ve been on, I have seen many stacked stones. They have given me relief (the fact that I’m on the right path!) and they have given me hope (the fact that someone has made it that far before me!) Regardless, the stones are always a positive reward during my journey. Thank you for the great article.