Behind Oak Creek, Sedona's Cathedral Rock awaits the coming rain. When rains come, plants grow and rivers flow. Deserts are part of a wide classification of regions that, on an average annual basis, maintain a moisture deficit by losing more water than they receive. However, measurement of rainfall alone does not provide an accurate definition of what a desert is. Being arid also depends on evaporation, which depends in part on temperature. For example, Phoenix, Arizona receives less than ten inches of precipitation per year, but is immediately recognized as being located in a desert due to its arid adapted plants.
Sometimes when desert rains do fall, the fall very fast causing sudden flooding. Plants, survive by storing water between rains and the spring storms are a welcome sight to the dry environment. If there is enough water to form a creek, like Oak Creek seen in this image, the flow carries various objects downstream at a speed proportional to the gradient.
Cathedral Rock is a famous landmark on Arizona skyline, and is one of the most-photographed sights in the state. This view is from "Oak Creek Crossing" in west Sedona. The Rock is located in the Coconino National Forest in Yavapai County, about a mile west of Arizona Route 179, and about 2.5 miles south of the "Y" intersection of Routes 179 and 89A downtown. The summit elevation of the Rock is 4,921 feet and is a popular short, steep ascent from the Back O' Beyond trail head to the saddle points or "gaps" at the base of the rock.
Geologically, Cathedral Rock is carved from the Permian Schnebly Hill formation, a red bed sandstone formed from coastal sand dunes near the shoreline of the ancient Pedregosa Sea. Ripple marks are prominent along the lower Cathedral Rock trail, and a black basalt dike may be seen in the first saddle.
Originally called "Court House Rock" on some early maps, Cathedral Rock, like Courthouse Butte or "Church House Rock", has caused endless name confusion to the casual observer.
Thanks to Tom Kelly in Sedona, I eventually found this location but did not attempt the crossing. I still know enough to come in out of the rain!
Be sure to stop by my "Special Collection Gallery" and view this image on canvas!
Photograph copyright Jon Burch Photography
March 19th, 2013
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