Crested Saguaro Society

Crest Quest Reports

December 26 - 28, 2023 — Near Florence (Old Friends, New Friends)

Report by Joe Orman


Embarking on new adventures is a million times better with close pals.
                                                              — Unknown

Once again I returned to this area near Florence, to check up on some old crested saguaros, and to try and find some new ones!

As you may remember from a previous report, three weeks earlier I'd spotted a crested saguaro far in the distance but didn't hike out to it. On this day, my old friends Rick and Bob joined me for the hike; it turned out to be a nice tall one:

Check out Rick's fantastic drone photos of this crest:

As is my habit, we made a loop hike back to our vehicles hoping to find another crest. Ths time we didn't; however, one cannot hike very long in the Sonoran Desert without coming across some oddities. Here's a saguaro "boot" — we checked to see if it was our size:

This saguaro looked like a Segmented or Jointed saguaro:

The chollas out here grow mighty tall — Bob served as a yardstick:

The guys refused to carry this saguaro skeleton back for me ... would have looked great in my yard!

Rare "triplet" (three saguaros with a shared root):

After we got back to our vehicles, I bid a fond farewell to Rick and Bob and continued on solo — for the rest of the trip, the saguaros would be my only companions. My first "discovery" would prove to be an embarrassment. When I spotted this arm crest along the road, I thought I'd found a new crest and even photographed it — before a waypoint on my GPS reminded me I'd already documented it three weeks earlier!

I then set my sights on some of Bob & Pat's discoveries from years past, each requiring a short hike from a dirt road. The first hike took me past this big crest (C517), so I paused for an updated photo:

My destination was tall ring crest C752, but I found it down:

Bob and Pat's 2007 photo:

Off another road, I found big top-crest C753 still standing:

One more walk just before sunset ... C754 was also still standing:

I quickly found a campsite, and watched the full moon rise in the east:

... and the twilight colors after sunset in the west:

Every new friend is a new adventure ...
the start of more memories.
                                                              — Patrick Lindsay

The next morning, I photographed the moon setting over the "Belt of Venus" — a pink band above the horizon caused by the almost-risen sun shining through the atmosphere:

As usual, red-tailed hawks kept me company through the day:

Driving a pipeline road to my next Bob & Pat crest, I made another new friend — this nice arm crest:

While I was photographing that saguaro, the "sound of freedom" ripped the morning sky, and I was able to get this shot of the F-35 jet zooming past:

An all-too-often sight in the desert — a mylar balloon snagged on a cactus:

I found Bob & Pat's C453 still standing:

Nearby was the site of C1710, but I found nothing at the coordinates. Here's Bob and Pat's 2011 photo:

But on the hike I did see a couple of Y-split saguaros:

I also passed this remarkably massive ironwood tree ... evidently someone had been harvesting its wood:

Another Y-split saguaro:

Those Y-splits were clues that other crested saguaros might be in the area, and sure enough I made this new discovery:

With its screeches, this red-tailed hawk was telling me it was time to move on:

So I headed down another road, where I found the big top-crest C1725 still standing:

And in the immediate area, I noticed several saguaros with the cresting pattern. I took a waypoint on this one; looks like it may crest in the near future:

It looks like this one did crest, then the small crest immediately died; all of the growth is now in the arms:

Beside another road, I found this arm crest (Extend-O-Cam view):

... and another (Extend-O-Cam view):

... and yet another arm crest (C1723; Extend-O-Cam view):

I turned down another road, where I found C1717 down (and the small crest decaying on the ground):

Arm crest C1718 was supposed to be nearby, but I found nothing at the coordinates. Here's Bob and Pat's 2011 photo:

I made another hawk friend:

Saguaro C1712 was just cresting out when Bob and Pat documented it in 2011, but it has since turned into a tall Y-split — looks like one side may still crest:

Another victim of time and gravity, C1739 was down ...

Bob and Pat's 2011 photo:

... but on the hike to it, I saw this almost-crested saguaro:

One last hike in late afternoon, to two more of Bob and Pat's crests. First, C1813:

Then, arm crest C1816:

I suddenly found myself almost a mile from my Jeep, with the sun getting close to the horizon! I hustled on the hike back, but still barely made it back to my car before sunset:

I made a quick camp before it got dark, and the next morning on the drive out I took updated photos of two crests right beside the road. Unfortunately, this former arm crest was down:

... but this mutant/crested saguaro was still standing:

Thanks for continuing to share my adventures; even when I walk alone, I feel that my friends are with me.

Make new friends, but keep the old;
Those are silver, these are gold.
New-made friendships, like new wine,
Age will mellow and refine.
Friendships that have stood the test —
Time and change — are surely best;
Brow may wrinkle, hair grow gray,
Friendship never knows decay.
For 'mid old friends, tried and true,
Once more we our youth renew.
But old friends, alas! may die,
New friends must their place supply,
Cherish friendship in your breast—
New is good, but old is best;
Make new friends, but keep the old;
Those are silver, these are gold.
                                                              — Joseph Parry

Back to Crested Saguaro Society Crest Quest Reports page.

Revised: January 25, 2024
All photos copyright © 2023 Joe Orman