I love hiking. My bucket list is full of different trails I have yet to explore. The weather is finally cooperating so I am able to take my hiking companion and not worry about overheating. The summers are brutal here, so I use those months to cultivate my indoor hobbies and interest, but we finally reached acceptable (by my standards) temperatures and I am super excited.
Trails that are relatively easy and don’t have much weekend traffic are my favorite. Recently, we went to check out the Prick Country of Ninja Cholla. Not a real name, it is what I call it and for a good reason. Those fuckers are the Ninjas of the Desert!
Did you know that Jumping Cholla is the most dangerous cactus of Sonora Desert?
We have many cacti here, but this one is a real prick. It looks pretty on the outside, and all covered in what it seems a soft, fuzzy hair. The moment you narrow the distance and come closer to check it out, it will launch right at you with malevolent intentions and hook itself into your skin like an industrial strength velcro. Those one-inch needles are covered with sharp microscopic barbs as dense as a fish scales. Your first reaction will be to rip it off of you and that is where you realize the Ninja capabilities of that little ball of needles. It will relocate quickly and latch onto another part of your body so panic needs to be set aside.
Staying calm, breathing deeply and making sure you remove that ‘thing” in its entirety is the key. Those reversed barb wire-like spikes can stay under your skin where they actually can start growing. You will bleed. You will hurt. But hey, you packed those pliers or tweezers, right?
My friends make a lot of homicidal jokes when they see me pack my taser, Kbar, duct tape, rope, rubber gloves and a few other tools in my backpack. Needle-nose pliers are my necessity, but I suppose you could get away with a large pair of tweezers. Those you can use to detach yourself from those “killer ninjas” and help your hiking buddy if needed as well. So for those who are not familiar with Jumping Cholla, this is the real version of what to expect while exploring the beauty of Sonora Desert.
How to treat cactus pricks?
Clean the wound. Wash the skin with water and use disinfectant wipes.
Use your pliers or tweezers to remove visible thorns and remove any remaining spines or barbs.
To ease pain and itching soothe skin with a moisturizer or aloe vera.
Cover with a bandage and monitor for any signs of infection.
Enjoy your expenditures and stay away from the Cholla!