Tow Hill Texture

Yesterday I presented one of the Haida stories about Tow Hill. I think it is probably typical of most cultures that unusual landforms have such stories associated with them – you could say that they attract such stories, or you could say that the stories tell of their creation. In either case they end up being importantly different places. Tow Hill is one of two or three rocky headlands along the whole coast line from Masset Inlet to Rose Spit, about 45 km of beaches with less than 1 km of bedrock. And it is very much the most prominent in all directions. This coast is characterised by long sand beaches, and Rose Spit is a constantly developing feature – as land levels rise, the spit moves every more northeast. What this means is that just a few thousand years ago Tow Hill was an island, and the incipient Rose Spit was to the east of Tow Hill. You can see stranded beach lines of the historical Rose Spit on this map (make sure you turn on the satellite photo by clicking in the box on the upper right corner of the map).  Tow Hill is on the north side of the island, 17 km west of the tip of the spit, the first break in the even sweep of sand. What this all means is that Tow Hill is, and has always been, a standout feature on this landscape both from the land and the sea. A place of and for stories, a central geographical hub of myth and legend and history and an integral part of the culture and identity of the inhabitants of Haida Gwaii.

Today’s pictures dwell on the textures of the beach to the north-east of Tow Hill, the bedrock shelf that has the bird and whale turned to stone by Taaw as described yesterday, and a blow-hole that at the right tide and swell blasts a jet of water high above the rock – sadly, while we were there it only gurgled. Because of the rain and very low cloud photographic options were very much limited and thus all these shots are in black and white and concentrate on what was close to me as distance was obscured in mist.

Even so, the conditions were good for seeing faces in the rock.




To open the gallery view and see larger pictures, click on any thumbnail below, navigate with the arrows and escape to return to this page.


Canon 5Dii with soaking wet Nikkor-N (pre-AI) 24mm/2.8m lens, ISO320  – various exposures.

9 thoughts on “Tow Hill Texture

  1. Pingback: Tow Hill Flat « burnt embers

    • Thank you 🙂 I was noticing recently in these shots how the barnacles are only in deeper cracks. Gives some idea of the power of the storms in the winter, which probably carry a great deal of sand – the rocks must be scoured clean several times a year – deep cleaning into the rock surface.


    • Thanks Andy – these volcanic rocks certainly weather in interesting ways. Somehow I missed your comment earlier.

      They have not been exposed to wave erosion for very long at all – these would have been in the intertidal zone for a few hundred years as sea level was rising about 11,000 years ago, and then entirely subtidal until probably about 2 or 3,000 years ago, with the flat shelf area probably only intertidal in the past 1000 years, and the land still rising. All this suggest to me that this is quite a soft rock, or at least the hollowed out bands are quite soft, and that if this were to stay in the intertidal zone for a long time, would be worn away. Given that the land is rising out here, and the concerns about a human triggered global rise in ocean levels, maybe this area will be in the intertidal zone for longer than previously ‘scheduled’.


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