This week I set out to an Austin hiking destination that has been on my bucket list for a while. I mean it's not technically Austin but that is where it is most known. My photographer friend Rebekah tagged along and we enjoyed walking around and getting creative with our cameras! It's always nice to simply be creative and have fun while shooting. Taking breaks from the pressure of a paid session and having to worry about a client's expectations is definitely an important thing to make time for. But that's not really what this blog is about.
Hamilton Pool is a part of a nature preserve about an hour outside of Austin. It is a natural pool that was created when the dome of an underground river collapsed due to massive erosion thousands of years ago. It is so highly trafficked that you actually need a reservation to visit. It is STUNNING but I can't help but wonder how it would thrive had it not become so well known. A part of me is debating on whether or not to even write this blog because it would inevitably lead to more people knowing about it. The other part of me is aware of how easy it is to find Hamilton Pool though, with a simple google or Instagram search it can be found very quickly. It is gorgeous and super accessible so it really doesn't stand a chance. So instead of writing all about how you can visit or when you should visit I am going to write this to share knowledge of how you can be respectful of this amazing outdoor space if you do visit. Being mindful of your actions when enjoying the outdoors is half of the battle! Some of these tips are specific to Hamilton Pool while others can pertain to any outdoor space.
Hamilton Pool is a beautiful space but there are a lot of signs and areas roped off for restoration. It is a nature preserve after all. Please stay on the trails when visiting, pay attention to signs and don't cross any boundaries!
The water is monitored and upon arrival they will tell you whether or not swimming is allowed, follow their direction! Avoid wearing sunscreen or other skincare products if you do swim. If you are bringing in any items like floats (I'm not even sure those are allowed), buckets or life jackets that have previously been used in the water please please hose them off and make sure they are clean first! This will prevent the spread of invasive species like Zebra Mussels which are a big deal in the Austin area. This goes for any water activities actually, especially boats, kayaks and paddle boards!
Stalactites grow from the ceiling and though it is pretty high I have to mention that you should not touch them. Stalactites and stalagmites take thousands of years to form and the oils from our hands or clothes can cause some serious damage. This goes for any stalactites or stalagmites you come across!
Take nothing but photos. I know collecting rocks or leaves is super tempting, I have done it in the past. But each piece plays an important role in the ecosystem. With that being said If you see any trash on the trails or in the water definitely pick it up and take it with you when you leave.
Stop geo-tagging your exact location on social media. I know this can seem super ironic and hypocritical being that I am posting it in a blog but it's part of the problem. Geo-tagging means ease, you click on the tag and voila a map leads you straight to it. With ease comes more visitors who may not be as respectful or mindful of these spaces that we know and love. If someone works for something they tend to be a lot more respectful and grateful for it in the end.
I love outdoor spaces and I think it's great that more and more people are able to enjoy them! But I also want to make sure that we do our part to protect them so they stay beautiful and can be enjoyed by those who come after us. I am hoping to use my images to help share knowledge of how we can do just that! No one is perfect, I am no expert guys! I know I have made mistakes in the past and I probably will in the future. But like I said before, being mindful of your actions when enjoying these spaces is half the battle! If you want to continue this conversation or have any questions at all please don't hesitate to contact me! I'd love to chat about it!
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