February 15, 2011

Margs Draw and the Red Rock Country

Yesterday, we wandered on over to the east side of Sedona to check out the Margs Draw area. This is yet another beautiful area of slick rock and high red cliffs. Sedona is said to have 78 different trails in the immediate surroundings of town and I suspect we'll probably hike all of them within the next year.

It was an amazingly warm February day, with temperatures approaching 70 degrees. In the direct sun, it was hot enough to be wearing shorts and a T-shirt and to even develop a sweat on the uphill sections of the trail. While a cold front is coming in this weekend to cool it down, we were almost getting worried about this heat. As comfortable as it is now, if it is this hot in February, what will it be like in May? July?

Anyways, there were these neat crystal concretions in the red sandstone. I suspect they were gypsum (calcium sulfate) that moves as dissolved ions in water permeating in the porous sandstone. As this water emerges out to the surface and dries out, the crystals form. I would have to run a few tests to be sure it is gypsum, but that is what my educated guess is.

Our new dog Sophie checking out the area

However, there is another explanation for these crystals which predominates any Google search. They are related to the so called "Vortex of Sedona". There is a lot of mysticism and crystal shops in town. I am not sure what all this Vortex stuff is about. But, it draws thousands of visitors, so it means something to someone.

I personally am intrigued by the flat platforms of slick rock that form and the "rock gardens" of various rock types on top that form as rocks drop from the various sedimentary layers on the cliffs (and the lava cap at the top). There are numerous different types of rocks, such as limestone and lava rock that lay on this beautiful red floor.

Notice the small clouds of juniper pollen in the center of the image

Unfortunately, we couldn't explore as long as we were hoping to. The sudden warm weather has caused the juniper to begin pollinating. Junipers are wind pollinated and produce it in prodigious quantities. When the wind strikes a juniper, a yellow cloud emerges and the entire sky suddenly turns a hazy blue. Unfortunately for Linda, she is allergic to juniper pollen and we had to head back.

The good news is that typically the key period of juniper pollen is just a few weeks, so hopefully by late March Linda will be over the allergies.

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