Saturday, April 20, 2024

Pretty but mean

I like chollas. I like the ecosystem they grow in. But that cute fuzzy glow is actually thousands of barbed spines. You can avoid brushing against the live chollas but those prickly bulbs fall off, turn brown and blend with the ground where they wait to attack. If you’re lucky only your shoes get stabbed and not your body.

Although I watch my step around cholla I get stuck now and then. Like yesterday. I didn’t notice I had picked up this hitchhiker until I was back at the Rolling Steel Tent.

DO NOT USE YOUR FINGERS to remove these death balls. The simplest method is with a very common tool: a fork. Slip the tines between the spines and flip it — in a safe direction. Then, if there are any remaining spines, use pliers to pull them out. If I were the smartly prepared Boy Scout type I would have a fork and pliers with me at all times in cholla country. Or a Swiss Army knife. But I’m a foolish old man with a false sense of invincibility.


  1. Pliers to pull the splines out, I used my Leatherman. I'll remember the fork if I get back to the desert.

  2. A pocket comb works well and carries easily.

    I wish all cholla would burn in hell but I think the skeletons are lovely geometric things

  3. Mentioning a Boy Scout knife brought back a weird, kind of creepy, memory. Our scoutmaster never brought his own food on campouts. Instead, he'd go around with his Scout knife and take a bite of each boy's meal. I'm sure there was a significant life lesson in that.

  4. I don’t own a fork. Only a spork