On my last day in Prescott, I headed out to the city’s famous landmark, Thumb Butte, hovering over the town like a guardian. The last I’d seen of it in January included a lot of snow:
But yesterday the temperature was at least 75, the skies were clear, and I panted my way up the trail to the top. Here I am about halfway, the dome of the butte contrasting with the valley below. Did I mention it was a gorgeous day?
On the way, I stopped to say hello to one of my favorite friends, an alligator juniper (Juniperus deppeana), named, of course, for the alligator-skin pattern of its bark.
I always feel delighted to see the alligator junipers. Can’t say hello to enough of them.
A rock with a lot of quartz in it glistened beside the trail. This fragment is magnified about twice its in-person size. I suppose it was the promise held in quartzite rocks that fed the hungers of the Gold Rush, for gold is often found in quartz, and evidence of mining excavation could be found here and there close to the trail.
A glorious Ponderosa pine snag sliced the blue sky:
Another old friend of many years, manzanita (genus Archostaphylos) , caught my eye with its red branches and light green, fleshy leaves. In another week or two the white, sweetly nectared flowers will open—great for sucking a drop of sugary pizzazz:
Back at the parking lot, I lay down below a tree, listened to the seasonal creek trickling near my head, and wondered how to get back downtown:
About that time, Barb and her muddy-happy golden retriever, Jersey, wandered by on their way to their car. They hauled me straight to my hotel door, where I could catch the airport shuttle. Thanks, Jersey and Barb!
Back in town, I reveled in the first lilacs of the season:
And enjoyed an all-time favorite friend, California poppies (Eschscholzia californica), striking here against a beautiful rock wall:
The shuttle ride to the airport was spectacular, the northern Arizona desert in full bloom. Seas of yellow and green on the ground framed blooming ocotillos with their flaming red-orange tips and clouds of orange paintbrush. I only regretted I was flying by at seventy miles an hour.
Note to self: come back to the desert in April again!