“I took the best picture of the super bloom this weekend,” a friend told me at a party last week. “But I can’t post it anywhere because it looks like I’m off trail.”
I take a look at her phone. She looks like she’s in the middle of lustrous, yellow poppies, having just skipped through them — soft sun streaming onto her face like some sort of golden goddess. It’s a beautiful shot.
“Yeah,” I say, “you definitely look like a monster who just crushed all the poppies just to stroke your ego.”
“The trail is really narrow there,” she promises. “I didn’t kill anything!”
“Frame it,” I advise. “But don’t dare post it.”
Too harsh? Maybe. But tensions are high during the famed Southern California super bloom and getting dragged on social media by scores of people who are apparently perfect and have never plucked a flower in their lives is a nightmare.
For those of you not versed in what the hell a super bloom is, a quick primer: California got a lot of rain this past winter. In fact, some parts of the state haven’t seen this much rain in 20-30 years. And while the desert always has wildflower blooms in the spring, the mass amounts of rain this year resulted in crazy blankets of flowers, stretched as far as the eye can see. Which means cars filled people, also stretched as far as the eye can see, are racing out of the cities every weekend to get perfect photos for Instagram.
This has resulted in a super bloom backlash — with people freaking out about social media influencers potentially ruining the wildflowers. Hence my friend’s moral dilemma.
Look, I get it. Social media influencers are frightening creatures that only come out during the golden hour and have seven sets of incredibly straight teeth and survive on rosé and backless one-piece bathing suits. But the reality is that they aren’t the only problem facing the super bloom. It’s easy to scapegoat “influencers” as we look at the masses of people descending onto delicate, wildflower-covered land, but they’re only a small percentage of the people flocking to the desert to see the spectacle.
Lake Elsinore had 50 thousand people at any given time trying to move through the canyon last weekend — leading to officials finally closing down access. So while it’s easy to drag people on social media, if you’re planning on voyaging out to see the gorgeous yellows and purple flowers over the next couple of days you need to make sure you don’t become part of the problem.
To help you out, we put together the 10 Commandments To Seeing The Superbloom. These simple rules will keep you (and the flowers) safe. Don’t wreck this experience for everyone — looking at you, buffoons who landed a helicopter in the middle of the Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve — you’re better than that.
1. Thou shalt bring a trash bag and pack out all the trash you produce. And since thou are not a douche, thou shalt also pack the trash that others have left behind.
2. Thou shalt remember to bring thy reusable water bottle and not buy one at the gas station for single use.
3. Honor thy park officials and posted signs. Stay on the trail. If one foot strays from the trail cut it off for it has offended the poppies. (Okay, fine, don’t actually cut it off. But, you know, don’t leave the trail.)
4. Thou shalt donate to the park you visit or a wildflower conservation organization to offset the costs of all the extra personnel to direct your dumb car and any cleanup or damage repair that results from those less woke than thee.
5. Thou shalt not bring animals to the trail who aren’t service animals. In many of the parks, they aren’t allowed and you will get a ticket (this is not the time to wonder if anyone will notice). Even on dog-approved routes, the parks are insane;y crowded. Leave Fido at home.
6. Honor the Lord thy Instagram by bringing a friend or lover to take your picture in front of the poppies (with a decent camera) and don’t spend 30 minutes trying to take a selfie. This is more because you look like a real jerkface than anything, but also because retaking a selfie 800 times stops up the other guests. Bonus: Doubling up with people to drive will save on road congestion. If you’re going and have any extra car space, make a status on FB or write a tweet asking if anyone else was planning on going and wants to join a carpool.
7. Thou shalt be kind to area residents, who are doing their best through pretty stressful conditions, and tip extra if you stop for a coffee or bite to eat and be patient if food takes longer than normal. Also, and this should go without saying, but don’t hit traffic attendants with your car.
8. Thou shalt consider more off-the-beaten-path locations than the most trafficked parks. The thing about wildflowers, they don’t know park boundaries, so you are likely to see some pretty gorgeous blooms all along the desert at many random locations. Try somewhere slightly less crazy, or just ask around. You might find an empty field behind a Walmart that’s stunning.
9. Thou shalt not steal any flowers. No matter how pretty they are and how much you like keeping dead things in a vase on your kitchen island. You’ll have to stick with flowers from at Trader Joe’s.
10. Lastly, thou might want to wait until Monday to see the bloom. It will be way more enjoyable and less hectic. Sure, you have to take a day off work, but this is the freaking super bloom. Your boss will understand.
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California poppies, Elsinore. 20 years ago we would drive the fire roads way back into Walker Canyon and were mostly alone the whole time. Those days are long gone but the flowers are still fantastic. #elsinore #poppies #californiapoppies #wildflowers #california #poppyshutdown
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California Gold. . The last bit of sunlight graces a cactus surrounded by California Poppies. A lucky combination of good intel,good people, and several miles of hiking allowed me to shoot the super bloom with only two other humans in sight. Big Thanks to @marlonholden and @rootswalker for letting me tag along. It was a joyful and special experience I won’t soon forget. Shot with a Nikon D800 and Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8g ed. 1/125 sec at f/22, ISO 100. I Recently dunked my D810 in a creek (RIP) so I’m glad that I have a solid backup body. . . #earth_shotz #superbloom2019#wildbayarea #wildcalifornia #awesomeearth #walkercanyon#depthsofearth #wondersofourplanet#californiapoppies#flowers#amazing_earth #got_greatshots#yourshotphotographer #superbloom#bns_earth#lakeelsinore#NikonNoFilter#usprimeshot#wonderearthclub #ig_color#nikon#hubsplanet#globalcapture#igworld_global #landscapephotomag