Crested Saguaro Society
Crest Quest Reports
December 16 - 18, 2022 — Sonoran Desert National Monument
Report by Joe Orman
The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious ...
the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle
of true art and true science.
— Albert Einstein
What is the Crest Quest but a journey into the mysterious? One never knows what one will find in addition to a crested saguaro, or even that alone!
After making a quick late-night camp just off the freeway, my first excursion of the day was a long hike into the wilderness on an old road that's now closed to vehicles. Where will this road lead me? If nothing else, into a beautiful and isolated corner of the desert:
I didn't find any crested cactus on the hike, but this red-tailed hawk brought a familiar burst of emotion. If only I had your eyes, and your ability to soar — how I envy you these things!
As I continued my drive around the mountains, I saw several Y-split saguaros ... sometimes a clue that a crest is near:
On my next hike, my spotting scope picked out what I thought might be a crested arm about a half-mile away. But I determined it was a glomerate mass and decided not to hike out to it:
From one hill, I spotted what may have been a crested saguaro, a couple miles away at the limit of my spotting scope and telephoto lens:
I debated whether it was worth the time to check out ... in the end the pull of the mysterious won out! I found a way to drive around the other side and hike back to it; turned out to be just a broken-off saguaro:
Another night's camp under the infinite artwork that is the night sky, then back on the quest. One dirt road brought me to an abandoned paved section of highway, where I found scattered artifacts. What was this place? The wind whispered no answer. From the scant clues, I guessed that it was probably a service station. This looked like some kind of fountain made out of colorful rocks:
And two cars, in barely-restorable condition:
From the ancient to the modern. Atop one hill, I took this telephoto shot of the Palo Verde nuclear power plant, far in the distance:
Beside another dirt road, I found this saguaro. After much internal debate, I decided to classify it as "crested" — it would turn out to be the only crested saguaro I'd find on the entire trip::
Another Y-split saguaro that I passed:
On another hike, I detoured far out onto the desert floor just to confirm that this multiple-Y saguaro wasn't hiding a crest:
Who says that saguaros don't grow arms close to the ground???
Along one road I spotted a saguaro with a golden (variegated) arm:
On my last hike before heading for home, I spotted another glomerate mass:
Thus ended my adventure into the mysterious. Like I do at the end of all trips, I felt a twinge of sadness at its ending. I may not have found as many crested saguaros as hoped, but what I found instead had its own beauty.
Revised: January 16, 2023