Crested Saguaro Society

Crest Quest Reports


February 12 - 17, 2023 Superstition Mountains and White Tank Mountains

Report by Joe Orman

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I can see clearly now the rain is gone
I can see all obstacles in my way
Gone are the dark clouds that had me blind.

                                      Johnny Nash, "I Can See Clearly Now"




On a stormy day, I arrived at my campsite in a park in the foothills of the Superstition Mountains. As I set up camp in late afternoon, the clearing storm made the Supes a dramatic subject for my telephoto lens:



... and there's nothing like a dead tree in the foreground to add more drama:



Sunset brought patches of clear sky between colorful bands of clouds:



The next morning I took a hike on some of the park's trails. Beside one trail, I took an updated photo of this arm crest I'd found while hiking cross-country through this area back in 2014, before the park and its trails were installed:

My 2014 photos:
crestedsaguarosociety.org/crested/crpinal500/crest585.php

I had a tip on two crested-arm saguaros on another trail, only about a hundred feet apart. Even if these arms had crested out back in 2014, I probably wouldn't have spotted them because they're up above some cliffs. Here's the first:

crestedsaguarosociety.org/crested/crpinal700/crest774.php

... and here's the second:

crestedsaguarosociety.org/crested/crpinal700/crest775.php

I then made a long loop off-trail through the hills outside of the park. But I couldn't escape civilization ... balloons are the most common type of litter I find when hiking in remote areas:



At one point I made the mistake of looking back the way I came; spotted this arm crest and had to back-track to it (Extend-O-Cam view):

crestedsaguarosociety.org/crested/crpinal100/crest101.php

My loop hike took me past the location of a ring crest I'd photographed in 2010; unfortunately all that was left was a partial skeleton:

My 2010 photos:
www.crestedsaguarosociety.org/crested/crpinal100/crest108.php

Throughout the night, rain fell on the campground; in the morning the Superstitions were dusted with snow:




Little darling, I feel that ice is slowly melting
Little darling, it seems like years since it's been clear
Here comes the sun
And I say, "It's all right."

                                      George Harrison, "Here Comes the Sun"




The magnificent view from my campsite:



That morning, I hiked one last trail in the park. Hedgehog cactus cluster basking in the welcome sunlight:



Split-top saguaro along the trail:



Desert scene:



Completing the hike, I was surprised to see this crested arm right next to the parking area:

crestedsaguarosociety.org/crested/crpinal700/crest781.php

After checking out of the campground, I headed to the town of Florence to visit the Pinal County Historical Museum. I was intrigued by the display of cactus furniture:

"R. O. Perry designed and constructed the furniture out of saguaro cactus at his workshop in Phoenix, Arizona, during the late 1930s and early 1940s."

The museum also had outdoor displays of farming equipment, including this old truck:



Nearby in Florence is the Pinal County Courthouse:



I'd had enough of camping in the cold and damp, so that night I stayed in a hotel in Florence. The next morning I drove out of town to visit Saint Anthony's Greek Orthodox Monastery. This chapel on a hill had a terrific 360-degree view out over the desert:



Far out in the cactus forest, my binoculars picked out a crested saguaro:

I think it's this one I documented a couple of years earlier:
www.crestedsaguarosociety.org/crested/crpinal700/crest703.php

Leaving the Florence area, I paused along the highway for an updated photo of this crested saguaro in front of an RV park:

Photos going back almost 20 years; it's rare for a transplanted crested saguaro to survive that long:
www.crestedsaguarosociety.org/crested/crpinal/crest47.php

Late that night I made a quick camp in the foothills of the White Tank Mountains, to the west of Phoenix, and the next day I explored the dirt roads in the area. I was looking for a crested saguaro I'd had a tip on; I easily found it after a short cross-country hike:

crestedsaguarosociety.org/crested/crmaricopa500/crest594.php

Nearby my binos picked out this mutant/Y-split saguaro, but I didn't hike over to it:



Unfortunately, on the hike I also came across another darn balloon:



Driving other dirt roads in the area, I also found this small crested arm:

crestedsaguarosociety.org/crested/crmaricopa500/crest595.php

One last telephoto shot before I returned to pavement and drove home ... this splitting saguaro looks like it may crest out in the future:




Wind blew in, cloud was dispersed
Rainbows appearing, the pressures were burst
Breezes a-singing, now feeling good
The moment had passed like I knew that it should.

                                      George Harrison, "Blow Away"




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Revised: March 17, 2023