Crested Saguaro Society

Crest Quest Reports

February 23 - 28, 2024 Tucson and Points North

Report by Joe Orman


Well, I don't know but I've been told
You never slow down, you never grow old
                                                              Tom Petty, "Mary Jane's Last Dance"

Sometimes when I look back on these crest-hunting trips, I'm amazed by how much ground I covered in such a short time ...

On this outing, I arrived at the desert late in the afternoon, with just enough daylight to find a campsite. I chose a private spot a bit off the main road, sheltered by mesquite trees, that I first camped at (checks notes) 27 years earlier! As I rushed to set up camp, I paused to admire the colors of the twilight sky:

A full moon rose in the east; its light would cast a pale glow over the desert all night long:

The light of my campfire also kept the night at bay:

The next morning I was back on the highway and on my way. I took a slight detour to check up on Bob and Pat's C748. It has crested out nicely but was a few hundred feet beyond a barb wire fence signed no trespassing, so I had to settle for a telephoto shot:

Bob and Pat's 2007 photo, when it was just starting to crest:

I decided to spend the day in and around Ironwood Forest National Monument. This was not a great spring for wildlowers, at least not yet, but for some inexplicable reason this one hillside was covered in Mexican gold poppies:

I'd been down this side road before, but until this time I hadn't noticed this arm crest just off the road:

A bit farther down the road, I took an updated photo of this arm crest, which I'd first found in 2016. Since then, the top of the saguaro has folded over:

I'd had someone's photo of this handsome top-crest saguaro in my files for years, but only knew the general location. On a couple of previous trips I hadn't been able to find it, but this time I was successful:

As I hiked around the area, I found this rare triplet (shared-root) saguaro:

I also had a photo of this newly-cresting saguaro in my files, and was able to find it too:

I moved on, taking several different back roads; one led my past this historic cemetery:

This top-crest I spotted from the road was a new discovery:

At the most remote point in my drive, I came across this sobering sight luckily my Jeep did not suffer the same fate!

I parked and did a hurried late-afternoon loop hike to check up on three of Bob and Pat's finds. I gave out a heavy sigh when I got to the location of this arm crest (C1338) and found it down and decaying:

Bob and Pat's 2009 photo:

Same sad story for this nearby top crest (C1336):

Bob and Pat's 2009 photo:

But I was gladdened to find another nearby top crest (C1335) still standing and healthy:

Bob and Pat's 2009 photo:

Again I rushed to find a campsite in the dying light. I was up at sunrise the next morning to capture the cloud colors:

Gotta keep moving, never gonna slow down
You can have your funky world, see you around
'Cause I got to ramble ...
                                                              Bob Seger, "Ramblin' Gamblin' Man"

I got quickly back on the pavement, pausing to photograph this multi-armed saguaro (caused by pollution from a nearby mining operation):

I had an appointment to keep in a gated community on the outskirts of Tucson, where the homeowner took me on a short hike to show me this crested saguaro she'd found:

She was surprised when I pointed out this other one nearby that she hadn't noticed!

A gila monster is a fairly rare sight on this hike we saw two!

Then we split up; she headed for home and I chose to continue hiking. When I topped a ridge, I quickly realized I was looking into a wide basin that I'd hiked in 12 years previously. I recognized this big top-crest (C2001) on the other side of the basin and took an updated telephoto shot:

My binoculars also picked out this new ring crest across the basin, so I hiked over to document it:

My route took me right past another big top crest (C1806) I'd photographed 12 years previously, so I took updated photos:

After finishing my hike, I took an updated photo of the newly-crested saguaro in the homeowner's front yard ... coming along nicely:

Just before driving away, I glassed the saguaro-rich hillsides with my binos and happened to pick out an unknown crest high on a ridge. I didn't hike up to it this day, but (SPOILER ALERT) I did on a subsequent visit those photos will be in an upcoming report!

After leaving that neighborhood, I decided to drive the streets of Tucson and check out a few tips I'd gotten. Thanks to Harry and Ted for passing along the tip on this crest behind some houses:

Ted's photos:

And thanks to Harry for the tip on this rare double-crested twin (shared root) saguaro near some apartments:

Harry's photos:

This big arm crest is Bob and Pat's C907, but it was right in front of a house so I could only get a telephoto shot of part of the crest:

Bob and Pat's 2007 photo:

Same story with this big top crest (C911) right in front of a different house:

Bob and Pat's 2007 photo:

I drove by the house that used to have an arm crest (C228) in its yard, but found that the entire saguaro was gone. My 2015 photo:

Bob and Pat's 2005 photo:

Still a couple of hours in the day and gas in the tank ... I drove out of town to check up on Bob and Pat's C1859 double-crest I found nothing at the coordinates, so here's their 2011 photo:

Off of another side road I found Bob and Pat's C1557 still standing:

Bob and Pat's 2010 photo:

One last side road, to check out a patch of crested cholla cactus that Phil had given me a tip on:

Phil and my photos of several specimens:

At the base of one of the chollas, I found a fairy garden of tiny fishhook pincushion cactus:

Time's real short, you know the distance is long
I'd like to have a jet but it's not in the song
Climb back in the cab, cross my fingers for luck ...
Let it roll down the highway
                                                              Bachman-Turner Overdrive, "Roll On Down The Highway"

Whew, that was a long day! I rolled on down the highway and spent the next couple of days in the Phoenix area, and while there I checked up on some old cresties. I got an updated photo of this crested organ pipe cactus that I'd been watching grow since 2017, in the landscaping along a freeway:

I drove by a house that used to have two crested saguaros in its yard, but was saddened to see that both of them were now gone. My 2017 photos:

This saguaro in the landscaping of some government offices has grown into two normal arms above the crest:

I'll leave you with this photo of a cardinal that I saw on a hike at Saguaro Lake, outside of Phoenix:

I'd certainly packed a lot into this trip, but never even noticed it at the time. The promise of another crest down the road always keeps me going and keeps me energized!

When you give yourself completely to your work, the past and the future disappear and you are completely alone with the present! It's a good way to stay young!
                                                              Mehmet Murat ildan

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Revised: May 25, 2024
All photos copyright © 2024 Joe Orman