Crested Saguaro Society

Crest Quest Reports

November 16 - 17, 2023 — Off Highway 93 (Canyon and Creek)

Report by Joe Orman


Shores distant shores
There’s where I’m headed for
I got the stars to guide my way
Sail into the light of day
                                                              — Jimmy Buffett & Alan Jackson, "Boats to Build"
                                                                  (songwriters: Guy Clark and Verlon Thompson)

Maps, satellite photos, a glimpse of an saguaro-rich canyon from the highway, a sixth sense — these are the things that guide my way on the Crest Quest. On this trip, they led me into a steep canyon in an area where I'd previously found several crested saguaros.

I'd taken an updated photo of this known crested saguaro from the highway just six weeks earlier, but the start of this hike took me past its other side, so I took another:

As I made my way into the canyon, I quickly spotted this nice arm crest up-canyon and boulder-hopped over to it:

The boulder-choked canyon was more difficult than expected, so after struggling for awhile I decided to bail out by taking a ridgeline back. On that ridge I spotted this arm crest:

In a side-canyon I spotted this top-crest, so I detoured past it on the way back to my Jeep:

Since I was headed for a campsite I'd stayed at before, I was in no great hurry. So on the drive I paused to photograph the day's last light on distant hills:

This rock formation on Highway 93 is known as "Snoopy Rock" — from this angle it doesn't really resemble the famous beagle:

From my campsite, I photographed the crescent moon over the power lines:

Searching is half the fun. Life is more manageable when thought of like a scavenger hunt as opposed to a surprise party.
                                                              — Jimmy Buffett

The next morning, the search took me back to a creek where I'd been finding lots of cresties on recent trips. I parked at a high point I'd identified on the satellite photo, and surveyed my surroundings; I spotted this crest high on a slope but didn't hike up to it:

I also spotted another crest at a more reasonable elevation, and hiked across several gullies to get to it:

From there, I spotted two more cresties close together up a side-canyon:

I pondered my options, then decided to detour over to them. First crest:

Second crest:

All this cross-country up and down was hard going! So I rested at a saddle and took a look at my surroundings. Y-tip saguaro:

Arm crest high on a slope ... I didn't feel like scrambling up to it, so I settled for a telephoto shot:

Right next to the boulder I sat on, I noticed a couple of crested prickly pear cactuses:

My next destination was this magnificent top-crest I'd spotted one gully over — the best find on the day's scavenger hunt!

I angled up to the ridge behind that crest, which gave me a view far and wide. I spotted another top-crest way on the other side of the valley and plotted a course to that distant shore. On the way, I came across a deer antler ...

... and a tall Y-saguaro:

The top-crest shone in the light of day, while cloud shadows skittered across the slopes beyond:

Finally, looping back to my Jeep, I detoured past this big arm crest I'd spotted earlier:

The road that pointed me towards home took me through the creek bottom, the trees aglow with light from above:

Once again, my roaming was over — for now. My journeys are long, and I end them weary, but the saguaros always keep me oriented ... forever pointing upward ... to the stars.

Bubbles up
They will point us towards home
No matter how deep or how far we roam
They will show you the surface
The plot and the purpose
So, when the journey gets long
Just know that you are loved
There is light up above
And joy, there's always enough
Bubbles up
                                                              — Jimmy Buffett, "Bubbles Up"
                                                                                                          (songwriters: Jimmy Buffett and Will Kimbrough)

RIP Jimmy Buffett (1946 - 2023)

Back to Crested Saguaro Society Crest Quest Reports page.

Revised: December 23, 2023
All photos copyright © 2023 Joe Orman