Crested Saguaro Society

Crest Quest Reports

January 28 - February 2, 2024 Off Highway 93 ... and Beyond

Report by Joe Orman


I'm not expecting to grow flowers in a desert
But I can live and breathe
And see the sun in wintertime
                                                              Big Country, "In a Big Country"

Once again I return to this crest-hunting ground, where luck has favored me in the past. Here I can always find clean air to breath, warm sunlight to feel and one more canyon or ridge to explore ...

It had been a few years since I stopped this multi-armed mutant clinging to the hillside above the highway, so paused for an updated photo:

I parked at the end of a faint ranch road, then hiked cross-country to a canyon which had looked promising from the highway. As I reached the edge of the canyon, I saw this maybe-future-crested saguaro arm on the slope below me:

As always; I kept an eye out for interesting minerals; here's a nice piece of mica:

Soon I bagged my first crested saguaro ... a small arm crest:

Nearby, an even-smaller arm crest:

As usual for my hikes, the day would involve a lot of up-and-down! The next arm crest I spotted was at the bottom of the canyon, so I scrambled down to it:

A bit back up on the slope was this top-crest, with some troubling rot visible on the right side of the crest:

A bit farther up the slope was another arm crest:

I continued up-canyon, traversing the slope, and happened upon a couple specimens of crested prickly pear cactus:

Back down in the canyon bottom and around a bend, I came upon another nice top-crest:

Only a stone's throw away, yet another arm-crest:

The afternoon was getting late; time to exit the canyon and follow an easy ridge back. On the way I spotted one more arm-crest:

I struggled to decide if this saguaro arm was crested, and finally decided it was more of a glomerate:

Just before arriving back at my Jeep, I spotted one last arm crest. At first I thought it was one I'd seen from the highway on a previous trip, but I soon figured out it was a new discovery:

When I got back to my Jeep the sun was setting, so I barely had time to find a camping spot. But I found a nice flat spot where a mining shack used to stand, and enjoyed a sky ablaze with sunset color:

Three hours after sunset, a gibbous moon made a haunting scene as it rose behind bands of clouds:

Desert sky
Dream beneath a desert sky
The rivers run but soon run dry
We need new dreams tonight
                                                              U2, "In God's Country"

In the morning, I was back on the highway. Coincidentally, only 3 months earlier Ted Codding and I were in this same area, and I pointed to a saguaro-covered slope above the highway and said "There has to be a crest in there somewhere!" Sure enough, this time I spotted this one on that very slope:

Soon I arrived at the location for this day's hike, adjacent to where I'd found lots of crests on previous trips. I donned my boots and hiked a couple of miles down a ridge, glassing all the saguaros below. But all I found was this one that looked like it may crest out in the future or may just turn into a Y-split:

I was getting pretty pooped, and sat on a rock to take a breather and decide whether to take the boulder-filled canyon bottom back, or return via the easier ridge I'd come down. I vowed that I'd only attempt the canyon if I saw a crest through my binos from this spot; sure enough, on my last sweep with the binos I just happened to spot a short crest way up the canyon. So the canyon bottom it was! With a few more years of growth, it may turn into a "hug" crest:

A bit farther on, I was doubly glad I'd hiked the canyon I stumbled upon one of the best top-crests I've ever found:

The elevation here was about 3,300 feet, high enough for junipers to grow; these were laden with berries:

After arriving back at my Jeep, before making another camp under desert skies, I made one last stop where I could look down into another canyon nearby. I spotted an arm crest far below, took this telephoto shot, and vowed to hike down to it one day:

You say you're tired and you just want to close your eyes
And follow your dreams down ...
I want to sleep beneath peaceful skies in my lover's bed
With a wide open country in my eyes
And these romantic dreams in my head
                                                              Bruce Springsteen, "No Surrender"

The next day I drove into Nevada, where I would spend the remainder of my trip. First I detoured into a neighborhood to photograph Nevada's sole documented crested saguaro. This tip was passed from someone in France to Ted Codding ... to Phil Kozol ... to me thanks to all!

I spent the next couple of days exploring Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, west of Las Vegas:

This is a land of cliffs ...

... and canyons ...

... where if you climb high enough, you can get great views of Las Vegas:

Smaller things also draw my attention ... like seashell fossils ...

... and crested hedgehog cactuses of a group of three I'd found in 2018, this was the only one still living:

Same cactus in 2018:

Lastly, I spent a few more days in Valley of Fire State Park, east of Las Vegas.

Here I marveled at natural arches ...

... bighorn sheep ...

... slot canyons ...

... sandstone formations, including the "Fire Wave" ...

... and balanced rocks:

Once again I return home with new dreams, new memories and new photos. I hope you have enjoyed them all.

In a big country dreams stay with you
Like a lover's voice fires the mountainside
Stay alive
                                                              Big Country, "In a Big Country"

Back to Crested Saguaro Society Crest Quest Reports page.

Revised: May 1, 2024
All photos copyright © 2024 Joe Orman