giants by connie sobchak

About fourteen kilometres from Pemberton, heading south, lurks a boulder patch that is only partly visible from the road. There is a rock quarry there now and a gate prevents trespassers in vehicles but one fall day last year we stopped to see if the brushing under the hydro lines might yield some firewood. Since that first visit, I’ve gone back several times for though we got no winter fuel supply, the immensity of the rocks and the mystery of how they got there lit a fire of curiosity in me.

Now, boulders as a whole don’t interest me all that much-or they didn’t till I took a closer look-but these particular rocks immediately intrigued me because of their size and because of their location. The nearest mountain, from which said mammoths must have fallen, is about three kilometres away and it doesn’t tower over the patch as you might expect. When these rocks sprang free, they must have bounced and bounded across the landscape as if they were pebbles. It would be like watching houses roll by. Oddly, the boulders don’t seem to have broken into smaller bits but perhaps they did and my mind is not adjusting for the size factor when it comes to hunks of mountain rolling about. It is impossible to consider that they could have been even larger.

After a friend loaned me a geological study of the area, I learned that the likely cause of the landslide was either, tectonic settling, yearly cycles of freezing and thawing or a large earthquake. Though several bits of research support alternate dates for the occurrence, the study favoured a time frame between 2,200 and 3,600 years ago. It was also somewhere in this period that Mt. Meager last erupted. (Blais-Stevens, A; Hermanns, R; Jermynn, C)

giants by connie sobchak horizontal

Trees have found a way to grow up and through and maybe even on these boulders. Their composition bears exotic sounding names like basaltic, andesitic, lithic and quartz diorite. Blooms of sulphurous coloured lichen paint many of the mostly grey and greenish surfaces and moss covers other planes. It is very difficult for a person to climb amongst them but I saw some pikas who live there and perhaps other creatures inhabit this vast stony landscape. Mostly it appears inhospitable.

Thinking about the events that created this three to five kilometre patch of boulders has the same effect on me as staring up at the stars; I feel small; my perspective on what matters shifts; I consider the obvious analogy between these enormously heavy rocks which I’ve nonchalantly driven by for years and never noticed and the formidable burden those around me may be carrying. In the latter case, as in the former, it is worth it to abide awhile and learn a little.

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