Crested Saguaro Society

Crest Quest Reports

December 7 - 9, 2022 Near Florence

Report by Joe Orman


Comes the morning when I can feel
That there's nothing left to be concealed
Moving on, a scene surreal
Know my heart will never
Never be far from here

Sure as I am breathing, sure as I'm sad
I'll keep this wisdom in my flesh
I leave here believing more than I had
And there's a reason I'll be
A reason I'll be back

As I walk the hemiphere
I got my wish to up and disappear
I've been wounded, I've been healed
Now for landing I've been
Landing I've been cleared

Sure as I'm breathing, sure as I'm sad
I'll keep this wisdom in my flesh
I leave here believing more than I had
This love has got no ceiling

                                      Eddie Vedder, No Ceiling

Once again I return to this vast saguaro forest, forever seeking more of that which is concealed. Ironically, each time I come back to this wild area, in my heart I feel like I've never left.

I arrived in the area a couple hours before sunset, so I had time to check up on a couple of known crested saguaros. This one, just off the highway, made me sad to see it had snapped off below the crest in the 11 months since I'd last visited it::

Previous photos, dating all the way back to 2004:

It had been ten years since I'd photographed this arm crest::

Previous photos, dating back to 2006:

I made camp and photographed this amazing sunset that almost made me forget to breathe:

On this particular evening, there was a rare occultation of the planet Mars by the moon. The sky was cloudy as Mars disappeared behind the moon, but an hour later it was clear and I got this photo just after Mars once more appeared:

Winter nights are long, allowing plenty of time to photograph my campsite by moonlight:

Another moonlight photo, this one of a nearby crested saguaro::

After the long night, slowly came the dawn. Even before I could feel the warmth of the sun, I took this photo of the full moon setting through the saguaros:

I had just packed up my camp when Ted Codding arrived, and we walked over to photograph the nearby crested saguaro in daylight:

Just then we were joined by Harry Ford, and the "Three Amigos" were complete! We spent the day driving around, hiking around, and looking around in the hope of spotting a big crested saguaro we'd had a vague tip on. We never found that one, but I spotted this crest on a distant boulder-covered slope (telephoto shot from more than a mile away). I'll be back someday when there's more time to climb up to it::

Late in the afternoon, having spent a good day even with no new discoveries, we drove down the highway to the nearest restaurant and enjoyed a steak dinner. Then Ted and Harry headed for home, but I was camping one more night so I drove back into the cactus forest, to a different campsite conveniently located just off the highway. For some reason this spooky moonlight photo came out black & white except for my campfire ... definitely a scene surreal!

The next morning, I parked my Jeep at the "Hug" Ring Crest ...

... then shouldered my pack and hiked into the cactus forest. My route took me past this arm crest I'd found four years previously, so I stopped to take this updated photo:

By hiking cross-country into one of the "blank spots" on the map, I had hoped to find some new cresties. But I never did, even though I made a loop of 4 or 5 miles. I did see quite a few "Y-split" saguaros ...

... including this multipe-Y:

Red-tailed hawk on saguaro:

... and a much rarer sight, a great horned owl:

This saguaro had a pronounced "barber-pole" pattern sometimes a precursor to the formation of a crest:

After returning to my Jeep, I moved on to other dirt roads ... and passed another multipe-Y:

... and a rare Golden Saguaro:

At one point my route took me past this arm crest I'd found six years earlier, so I stopped for an updated photo:

Finally, following a faint double-track out to the highway, I found a magnificent crest that made the whole day of searching worthwhile:

In a way, every time I leave the cactus forest, I feel that I've been healed and that's one of the reasons I'll always come back. In the meanwhile, I'll try as best as I can to keep the secret wisdom that the saguaros have taught me.

Back to Crested Saguaro Society Crest Quest Reports page.

Revised: January 3, 2023