From a distance, the thick cactus needles shimmer in the light giving a halo effect and the illusion of softness. I’ve seen children go up and want to pet them, and even adults are tempted to check out the softness of the needles. I guess this why they are named “Teddybear Cholla”.

Do these look like Teddybears to you?

Don’t they just look like little bears reaching up for a hug?

The appearance is deceptive. Rumor has it, and our experience confirms it, that these cacti send off their offspring (a small arm of the cactus) to attach to the unsuspecting passerby. They are known to literally jump off the mother cactus and hang on tight by embedding dozens of hooked needles into a person’s flesh, shoe, or camera bag. Nicknamed the “Jumping Cholla” by us locales, it is the most dangerous and most feared cactus in the desert.

Here they are imprisoned behind a fence (where they should be)  – Joshua Tree National Park: Cholla Cactus Garden

We’ve had our share of encounters with these terrorizing cacti on local hikes and photos shoots. So why would we drive 400 miles to visit a most dangerous place – a whole garden of these cacti? 

That is the million dollar question.

I ran to Jeff, hoping he’d save me from this monster of a Cholla

The Teddybear Cholla – in the right light looks amazing  

This is the shot I was hoping to capture – all the Cholla’s aglow. Was it worth the risk?

Remember, it’s all about the light and a little spice of danger.