Be sure you put your feet in the right place, then stand firm.
The remains of Hurricane Andres began showing up early Friday morning as a low pressure area with gray clouds, possibly rain. Unusual for the Verde Valley, but certainly not going to keep us inside
My Nikon CoolPix L830 was just back from a trip to California for repair, and I was eager to use it. I had received it as a gift from Terry to photograph our move, two months ago, and from the start it did not focus or respond correctly. Declared ‘a defective unit’ by a Nikon dealer, and off it went for warranty repair. Now returned, I put the settings on one of the two ‘auto’ features, laced up my boots, packed us water and snacks and we were out the door of the townhouse to hike Courthouse Butte Loop in the Village of Oak Creek. An easy gentle 4.2 mile hike that loops around the Courthouse towards Lee Mountain, heads north briefly touching into the Wilderness area. Then around to the (heavily used by quick photo stop visitors) Bell Rock Pathway, passed the cosmically famous Bell Rock, then returning to the parking lot.
“Why are the rocks red?” you ask. Larry D. Fellows, State Geologist, answered that question quite eloquently:
Red Rock Country is beautiful because of its geology
–colorful rocks shaped by natural weathering and ero-
What is now red rock was originally soft mud and sand
that were deposited during a 50-million-year time period
that began about 320 million years ago. During that time
the area was a low, arid coastal plain next to a shallow sea.
As usually happens in nature, many changes took
place–rivers, wind, and ocean waves and currents deposit-
ed sediment at different times. When sea level rose, layers
of mud accumulated on the sea floor on top of the river
deposits. When sea level fell, wind-blown sand and dunes
covered the area. Later on, all of the sediment was changed
to hard rock (lithified).
The red color of the rocks is caused by a thin coating
of iron oxide on the particles in the rocks. The iron oxide
was formed by chemical weathering of iron-bearing minerals in the rocks in the arid setting.
These sandstone formations are old and trusted friends, whom I have missed. I feel such a sense of belonging and acceptance here. And while over four and one half million people visit Red Rock Country every year, we encountered very few fellow hikers and no mountain bikers. I surmise that the clouds were serving as gatekeepers. Shoes seemed to be the issue of the day, one gentlemen lamenting to his companion that he should not have worn his brand new boots, his wife really uncomfortable in sandals. Then a bare foot young woman leading a couple through a wash, and later we encountered them again, the barefoot lass perched just above the kneeling couple ; they gazing at her in rapt attention. She explained that the Great Spirit was affirming to her that She was in fact the One chosen to speak for Him, that she had brought them to the correct place, it was time, and they must open themselves to the message and words of Great Spirit speaking now through her. Without disturbing them, I placed two bottles of water where the couple could see them, asked Great Spirit silently to immediately provide shoes for the oracle, and on we hiked to the Wilderness Boundary where we encountered no one.
We stretched out near the dome and spoke awhile of all of the busy details and tasks of the last two months, the decisions, blessings, and how synchronicity had showed up so many times making our journey home smooth, pointing us to the answers, the people, the assistance, and choices that created a smooth path for the big change parts of our transformation of our lifestyle. Whether named God, Great Spirit, Universe, or that which has no name…we sat for awhile in gratitude, joined by a raven, a rabbit, and the silence.
Onward we go around the back of Courthouse Butte, past flowering yucca, shaggy bark junipers, and pinon pines. Yes, the ones who produce pine nuts for pesto.
The very best of the days flowering show offs, and our good luck to be there at the right time is that we got to see the agave, also known as the century plant. With very sharp points on their bluish green base spikes , they were a favorite with Native Tribes for needles, and the pulp in the leaves roasted or used for flour. In the same family of plants as the tequila agave, but quite sobering if they break your skin. Somewhere between ten and twenty five years of growth, the agave will respond to some unknown prompt and begin the growth of a thick asparagus like stalk, often over 25 feet in height that erupts into red buds and then blooms into yellow flowers. You can literally see these stalks grow from one day until the next. We were thrilled to see so many flowering.
The raven stayed with us all the way to Bell Rock Pathway, where we weaved the last few steps of our day through the throngs of tourists freed for fifteen minutes from two large tour buses parked in the lot.
A perfect day that I am happy to share with you. Peace and Blessings.