Nature’s Balancing Act

On a recent trip to Haida Gwaii, we stopped on our drive north from Daajing Giids (Queen Charlotte City) to Masset to see Balance Rock. It’s listed as ‘not to be missed’, for the mystery of its precarious position. It isn’t unique—apparently there are lots of similar examples in the world—but we could get up-close and personal with this one.

How is the rock kept in place? Gravity and contact friction are the glue holding it at such a perilous angle. After being carried by glaciers to this spot, the ice melted and—what luck—set the rock down in this amazing position. It’s estimated to be anywhere from 200-100 million years old, but may have only been plunked here several 1000s of years ago. You can’t see the contact point at high tide, but only when the sea has receded to reveal its unusual nature on the rocky shore. Imagine the sight when storm waves batter it, flinging spray from this immovable object!

Looking south from the rock towards Skidegate

How does it feature in Haida Gwaii folklore? Good question with few solid answers. There might have been a story in oral legend, but many of those tales were lost when 90% of the population succumbed to diseases beginning in 1787 with Captain George Dixon, the British explorer who named the collection of islands the Queen Charlottes. It might be a perfect symbol for the Haida, though, of their enduring land as a sanctuary where all is connected in a fine balance, a quiet place apart from the mainstream of the busy world, striving to find stillness, and subsequently, peace.

The view north, overlooking Hecate Strait

2 responses to “Nature’s Balancing Act

  1. Amazing! But isn’t it so very sad that 90% of the population died from the diseases of the ‘civilised’ world.

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