This past Sunday I took an early morning hike looping around Courthouse Butte.
Do you know why it is a butte and not a mesa? Because it is taller than it is wide. Here is another, Capitol Butte, shaped roughly like our nation’s capitol:
Here in Sedona, we like to name rocks. This is muffin top:
And of course, what else could this be but rabbit ears:
The wind was blowing, so the birds were keeping low, hidden in the bushes. They don’t like wind, for when everything moves, they can’t see predators. But a Western scrub jay was out. They signal intruders like me with a harsh caw like a crow:
A gray vireo was also out. Their song is a series of chu-weets, lyrical and sweet:
It’s easy to stay on the trail, for the forest service has constructed these ingenious cairns made out of red rock in wire cages. (That’s half of Twin Buttes in the background).
The bikers don’t like this trail, though, because the middle of it runs through Wilderness area–makes it nice and secluded for us hikers!
The wildflowers are in the middle of their spring bloom. Here is a feathered dahlia. The white-magenta flowers smell like a combination of rose and jasmine and make a lovely tea.
The strawberry hedgehog has a fruit that according to my plant book taste just like strawberries!
You wouldn’t want to eat the yellow berries of this plant, though. This is the silverleaf nightshade. It is an invasive species, often found where there is overgrazing. You wouldn’t think that would be a problem here, but this area’s original name was Big Park, and there were large herds of cattle grazed here.
Here are the berries. Poisonous, but used by native peoples to tan hides and curdle milk into cheese. All sorts of uses for plants.
This little flower is called the Slender Gaillardia, also called the reddome blanket flower. The Hopis used this as a diuretic:
We’ve had a very dry year. Some say we are starting a drought cycle. For that reason, water is precious to the wild animals. Even a small bit like this will draw deer for miles:
As I rounded the bend, I caught a glimpse of our most famous rock formation, Cathedral Rock:
People who say the desert is barren haven’t been to Sedona!