Where: Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, near Borrego Springs, California
When: April 3, 2009
They're called teddy-bear chollas because they look so fuzzy from a distance. Up close, though, they're even less cuddly than a lot of other cactuses.
This spiny spheres littered the ground around the chollas. I didn't see them until it was too late.
This one, stuck in my shoe, wasn't so bad. The one that got stuck in my leg (not pictured) was a bigger problem. I had to pry the things off with my car key. People who know better suggest using a hair comb.
Also, next time I go to the desert, I'll take some tweezers and maybe a pair of pliers. Once I'd removed the ball, some of the spines remained in my leg. Pulling barbed cactus spines out of flesh with your bare fingers is not so easy.