Crested Saguaro Society
Crest Quest Reports
January 13 - 14, 2023 — Congress Country
Report by Joe Orman
We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
— T.S. Eliot
In my Crest Quest, I find myself returning to the same places over and over. Sometimes because enough years have passed that new saguaros have probably started to crest out, but sometimes because I didn't thouroughly check out certain ridges or canyons the first time.
This trip began when I drove a highway that dropped steeply from the mountains to the desert. I pulled over and with my binoculars looked down into an area where several crested saguaros had previously been documented. I spotted this one, and since I had hiked right past this saguaro seven years previously, I knew it had crested out within that time:
I only got a telephoto shot this time, but (spoiler alert!) my next report will have close-up photos.
Once I was down in the desert, I took a side road and glassed a different set of hills — again, an area where I'd previously found several crested saguaros. Bingo! I spotted a crest way up on the ridge. I drove my Jeep as close as I could, but when the dirt track petered out I put on my boots and made the long trudge up to it:
The route back to my jeep took me across a set of railroad tracks:
Luckily, a train didn't come by until later, when I was driving a dirt road parallel to the tracks:
I'd brought with me someone else's photo of a crested saguaro in these same hills, a photo I'd had in my files for several years. Matching the background hills, I found the saguaro — but once again I'd waited too long:
As the sun slid toward the horizon, I drove to the far end of the mountain range, an area that I hadn't thouroughly explored previously. I made camp, then was treated to a gorgeous display of sunset colors:
The next morning I set out from my campsite afoot, up a long ridge sprinkled with saguaros. I passed this Y-split saguaro — often a tipoff that crests are in the vicinity:
Sure enough, my route soon took me right past this top-crest (Extend-O-Cam view):
The higher I hiked, the more dramatic my view along the mountain range became:
From a high point, I paused to rest and to glass the hills and valleys below. I was excited to see a big arm crest in the valley right below me:
The last leg of my loop hike took me within telephoto lens distance of two crests I'd discovered five years earlier to the day:
My hike took me near a quartz crystal collecting area that I'd previously visited with a mineral club. At one point on the cow-trail I was following, I glanced down and found this nice double-terminated crystal — a nicer specimen than any I'd found on the club trip!
I also found two of these small devices at separate points on the hike, identical to ones I'd found many times in the desert. As you might remember, in a previous report I identified it as the actuator from a military flare:
Tired from the hike, I decided to spend the rest of the day driving dirt roads and glassing from my Jeep. One road took me past this crested saguaro I'd also discovered exactly five years earlier:
I didn't find any more cresties, but at the spot where the last road dead-ended and I had to turn around, I noticed this saguaro perhaps just starting to crest. I made a note of the location with the intention to check up on its progress in the years to come:
That spot was also a delightful desert garden — saguaro, cholla, barrel, etc.:
Back on the highway driving home, I paused just long enough to get one more updated telephoto shot:
Even when I return to old places in the desert, they are always somehow different. Familiar sights look new in different light, secret untrodden corners reveal themselves, saguaros have newly-sprouted crests ... the Crest Quest will never end!
Revised: January 26, 2023