Wildflowers and the Balcones Canyonlands
We’ve had a fairly wet spring here in central Texas, which is great for the wildflowers. The weather yesterday was ideal for wildflower photography—mostly cloudy and temperatures in the low 80’s.
I left the house with my Fujifilm X-T2 and a few lenses. The images shown here were taken with my XF16-55mm f/2.8 and XF50-140mm f/2.8 lenses. I used the builtin Fujifilm Velvia profile.
I drove north of Austin, finding many wildflowers along the way. These photos were taken along Ranch to Market Road 1431, between Lago Vista and Marble Falls.
The high season for bluebonnets (the state flower of Texas) was about a month ago. In many locations, the blue flowers have given way to the yellows and reds and oranges of other wildflowers.
As I prepared this post and looked up the names of the wildflowers in the various photos, I realized how close I came to suffering a painful fate. The plants with the white flowers in the photo below are called “Mala Mujer” (Spanish for “Bad Woman”). Years ago, when I was visiting the cloud forest in the Sierra Madre Oriental in Tamaulipas, Mexico, the locals warned me of two very bad things. One was a very deadly snake (dangerous, in part, because I was so far away from medical help). The greater fear was reserved for Mala Mujer. They showed it to us, and told us to stay far away from it.
Here’s a frightening description:
“…the evil in the heart of the mala mujer is the incredibly caustic poison that lives in the trichome and is deployed when it pierces the skin, like a tiny hypodermic needle. [The] poison makes the experience so excruciating that one researcher likened the trichomes to ‘nuclear glass daggers’. And the poison doesn’t just cause instant pain – it can linger for days, even weeks, along with a red and purple rash that continues to discolor skin for months even after it’s been treated.” — plantsofillrepute.tumblr.com
Having survived this experience, I also visited, for the first time, the Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge. After going to the Visitors Center, I drove up Ranch to Market Road 1174 to the Doeskin Ranch Trailhead.
From there, I took the ~2-mile Rimrock Trail. It’s rated “difficult”, which I think is overstating the challenge, with only two or three hundred feet of elevation gain. Here’s the GPS route. I did it counterclockwise.
The beauty of rugged Texas Hill Country ranchland is an acquired taste for some. I am certainly grateful that this refuge for endangered birds is preserved. I was amazed by how clear the waters of Mountain Creek are.
The trails were well-marked. A few parts are overgrown with Spanish Oak, but that’s not surprising given our wet spring.
More photos from the wildlife refuge…