“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.