Jackson Hole Stone Stacking Rock Balancing

Cairns have traditionally been used as markers for trails in the western US.  There is a new use that is more creative and beautiful, rock stacking.  We invite you to find a quiet place and give it a try, many people enjoy this activity and describe it as being very relaxing.  It is a great activity to do with children as well.

Most of us live a life of stress, and we are conditioned to remain in permanently stressed world.  If we don’t work we wont have a roof over our heads, once we have the roof, we buy toys to put under that roof.  Since we bought the toys on credit, we have to work harder to pay them off and oh yeah, if our lifestyle costs $75k a year and we want to retire at 50 and might live to 100, we need to build income streams that will pay out $3,750,000.  Also, the TPS reports are due.

Jackson Hole Stone Stacking Rock Balancing

One of the reasons we love “diversions” in life is that they are needed for our mental health.  I recall being introduced to Ice climbing near Dubois by legendary mountaineer Steve Saez.  As I dangled 3 pitches above a rocky creek bed (well, OK, 15 feet) Steve interrupted me as my ice axe sunk in to another hold.  The muscles in my arms were shaking from exhaustion, ice shards were on my face and I was sweating.  “Thinking about work right now?”  Steve’s question was right on, no, I was not thinking about anything other than the task as hand.

Diversions don’t need to include danger, even though many do choose this type of activity.  When I was a young man, the thrill of 100 MPH winds as I throttled my motorcycle along were perfect, but as an old man I now see the benefit of more quiet and meditative diversions.  Precision long range rifle shooting, rock stacking and photography are all excellent “peaceful” diversions.

Stone balancing can be done almost anywhere in the Teton region.  River bottoms are an excellent place, as is just about everywhere.  The Slide Lake area in the Gros Ventre mountains is a great place.

Rock balancing can also be a performance art, a spectacle, or a devotion, depending upon one’s choice. Basically, it involves placing some combination of stones in arrangements which require patience and sensitivity to generate, and which appear to be physically impossible while actually being only highly improbable.  No glue, cement, rope or other supports are allowed, and the stacker must think several steps ahead as she determines weight, shape, flatness, friction and other factors.

There are four basic styles according to Wikipedia,

  • Balanced stacking – rocks lain flat upon each other to great height
  • Counterbalance – lower rocks depend on the weight of upper rocks to maintain balance
  • Free style – mixture of the two above; may include arches and sandstone
  • Pure balance – each rock in near-point balance

Balanced stacking

Free style balance

Pure balance

One reason that this is such a fun activity to do with children in Jackson Hole is the patience that it requires.  Many young folks enjoy playing video games or using other electronic devices that give them instant gratification.  If they attend government schools, they are expected to follow orders, think what the authority figure wants them to think when the authority figures tell them to, then after 50 minutes to stop thinking about that thing and move on to something else.  The horrific style of schooling in the US that John Taylor Gatto warns us against helps put our children’s minds in a place of disease.  Their minds are always in a state of hectic hyper bounciness and their brains are never at peace when awake.

While giving your children the moral gift of unschooling might not work in your lifestyle, while visiting Jackson Hole, you CAN at least provide them with some quietude.   This activity requires the stone balancer to focus intently on a quiet activity, to make their own choices and to suffer safe, immediate and natural consequences for both good and bad choices.  There are plenty of other fun activities in Jackson Hole if they want excitement, and this activity is a good counter balance.

Is there ANYONE that could have a problem with stone stacking?  Believe it or not, there exists in our world fun haters that are opposed to it.  I encourage you to ignore them, their reasoning is petty, MIMBY and sophomoricly selfish.  Get out into nature, find some stones and stack them.  Your tired brain will thank you.


Jackson Hole Stone Stacking Rock Balancing

More things to do in Jackson Hole?

Things to do in Jackson Hole