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Sunday, September 23rd, 2001

stone sculptures at athabasca

On a Fall day in 1996, walking through the Golden Gate National Recreational Area near the northernmost tip of the San Francisco peninsula, I joined a secret brotherhood. (Readers familiar with the area may wonder whether this event involved sex. Although we were not far from the nude end of Baker Beach, this brotherhood concerns itself with an altogether different kind of stones.)

I strolled along the path near the rocky part of the beach, and happened upon several unlikely, awesome vertical piles of rocks. I’m talking about single rocks stacked one on another, reaching heights of two to three feet. I was amazed at the precarious nature of the structures — I actually touched one to see if the stones were glued together. I felt awful when it toppled over.

Since that time, whenever Nature provides the raw materials, my wife and I like to build what we’ve come to call “stone sculptures.” Of course, height is the main goal, and aesthetics come in a close second. Except in special cases you need to have at least a half-dozen stones before you can begin to feel smug.

stone sculptureI left this sculpture near the Athabasca Falls in Jasper National Park. (Here’s are some great QTVR panoramas of Athabasca Falls.)

The practice of building sculptures of native stone appears to have begun with Inuit tribes, whose sculptures are called inuksuit. (The singular of inuksuit is inukshuk or inuksuk, or if you’re Neil Peart, inukashuk.) Here are some photos of ancient inuksuit.

Here’s are newer articles about building stone sculptures in Germany and Vancouver.

posted to channel: Travel
updated: 2005-02-23 05:47:00

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