Wow ~ I haven't gone so long between posts in a long time. It's a good indication of how busy life has been these past couple of weeks! I have, however, been posting daily photos (along with some watercolors) on my Annual Project blog, so feel free to check it out!
Today was such a nice day that I just had to get outside and enjoy it. It was still somewhat cool in Flagstaff, so I drove south towards Sedona and spent some time in Oak Creek Canyon. It was lovely to see hints of early spring, such as the catkins on the tree tops and fresh green grass coming up through the ochre thatch of last year's grass.
I took a short hike down along the creek. Here I stopped and spent the longest time watching the birds. The trees were filled with Hairy Woodpeckers and White Breasted Nuthatches. I don't think I've ever seen so many woodpeckers in one place before!
Oak Creek is peaty brown and all along the banks, there were more signs of spring. The wild watercress and duckweed were brilliant spots of green! All sorts of fun critters to watch, including a fuzzy winged bug I've never seen before. I'll have to get the guidebooks out and figure out what it was.
I spent some time with my watercolors and tried to capture some of the things that I saw and enjoyed! While I was sketching away, a woman stopped and told me that I brought beautiful energy to this spot!
After a few hours on the northern part of Oak Creek, I drove southwest of Sedona to Red Rock State Park, where Oak Creek continues the journey south towards the Verde River. I'd never been there before, but had seen the signs. It was getting late in the afternoon, so I didn't have a lot of time before the park closed for the day, but it was enough to take a short hike along one of the many trails in the park. The Smoke Trail goes along side of Oak Creek for about a 1/2 mile. The creek is at a much lower in elevation at this point and the flora and fauna are completely different than further north in the canyon.
The trail was a lovely walk. In one spot, it went over long a ledge of rock with cliffs above and the creek on the other side.
Here is a view looking back the way I came.
You can look at the cliffs above and see the faint markings of petroglyphs carved into the sandstone (at the center of this photo). Evidence that people have been enjoying this area for nearly 1,000 years!
Another view of the trail ~ I love the tree shadows across it!
Oak creek in this area appears to be green from the thick algae growing on the rocks in the creek!
I loved the "window" in this old sycamore.
The bark on the juniper was fascinating. The stripes of color were amazing, as though someone came along and painted stripes around the tree. And the bark seems to braid and weave itself in places.
In other places it is simply weathered gray, but still beautifully textured.
Across from the visitor center, there is a nice little walk with interesting signs about the local plant life. It culminates at this metal sculpture of a heron that I thought was quite fun and whimsical!
What a lovely day it was! Warm and sunny and filled with the wondrous sights and sounds of God's magnificent creation!