All Alone Stone. A lonely islet with a lonely name, a microcosm of Haida Gwaii that sits like a siren in the middle of tempestuous Juan Perez Sound, on the eastern edge of the Gwaii Haanas protected area. Although crowned with a toupee of wind-sculpted spruce, the curved dome of this tiny islet has been stripped bare of vegetation for 30 meters by the fury of Hecate Strait’s storm-driven swell.
For nearly two decades the stone has fired my imagination, calling to me on literally dozens of kayak trips along the more sheltered coast of Moresby Island to the west. As I paddle past, the stone slides slowly by in the distance, encircled by breaching humpbacks, a pod of cruising orcas or a herd of rambunctious dolphins. but I never go out to it.
Until this past summer.
Bruce Kirkby and I were in Gwaii Haanas, British Columbia, for a light and fast, four-day paddle mission, documenting the first traditional Haida monumental pole raising in the park area in 130 years. After leading guided trips in these unforgiving waters, it was sheer delight to be there with a strong paddling partner and no agenda.
On the second morning, Juan Perez Sound was glassy calm. We reached the All Alone Stone just as God rays burst through cracks in the grey sky. This made for tricky, high-contrast shooting—perfect conditions for the backlighting of this photo. I really wanted to capture the remoteness of the islet, but in the end, i opted for a simple silhouette of paddler and beckoning stone.
it is an image of contrasts: light and dark, hard rock and supple water, a lone paddler isolated in a vast marine wilderness, and a millpond in the stormy north Pacific.
This article first appeared in the Adventure Kayak, Spring 2014 issue. Subscribe to Paddling Magazine and get 25 years of digital magazine archives including our legacy titles: Rapid, Adventure Kayak and Canoeroots.