Crested Saguaro Society
Crest Quest Reports
January 29 - 30, 2022 -- Hillside, Arizona
Report by Joe Orman
I'd gotten tips on two crested saguaros one a Jeep road near Hillside, so on this trip my goal was to photograph them myself ... and, as always, hopefully find some new ones! As usual, the quest involved a few more of my favorite things: Jeeping, hiking, and camping.
I left pavement and headed into the hills on a cattle ranch road. The canyon I was following was steep-walled, and I stopped frequently to let my binoculars scan the boulder-strewn slopes all the way up to the skyline. My first discovery was a beauty -- this big top-crest, which I got up to only after several hundred vertical feet of scrambling.
On the same slope, I spotted this arm crest. I carefully traversed a few hundred feet over to where it clung precariously to the boulders.
From that vantage point, my binos picked out two crested saguaros in the distance on the other side of the canyon. Driving down-canyon, I spotted a faint double-track heading toward them. But this old road was too rough even for my Jeep, so I parked and hiked into the hills. Before I got to the two crests I'd spotted, I noticed this ring crest among the boulders; a very steep and overgrown scramble brought me up to it.
The next boulder pile held the first of the two crests I'd spotted from the distance; more boulder-hopping and bushwhacking brought me to it.
The second of the two crests I'd spotted from the distance was down below along a wash. You'd think going down would be easier, but the scramble and bushwhack down to it was the worst of all!
By that time the sun was nearing the horizon, so I had to hustle back to my Jeep. After a pleasant night camping beneath the stars, I continued following the cattle ranch road. I soon came to the first of the two crests I'd gotten tips on, this small top-crest just above the road.
The second of the two crests I'd gotten tips on was just a short hike away.
From there, I decided to continue hiking and make a long loop back to my Jeep. Soon I spotted this arm crest.
Nearby I found this mutant / Y / arm crest saguaro.
On the other side of a steep canyon, my binoculars picked out what looked like a crest seen edge-on. After a steep descent and climb, I was delighted to discover that it was a big top-crest.
A ridge walk and a boulder scramble brought me back towards my Jeep. One last crested saguaro ... I look forward to watching it full crest out in the years to come.
Just a stone's throw from my Jeep, I glanced down and noticed this crested prickly pear cactus. In prickly pears, excess cresting growth along the edge of the cactus pad makes the pad twist like a potato chip.
With that, another fun and productive crest-hunting trip comes to an end. As always, thanks for sharing the adventure with me!
Revised: May 29, 2022