There is a place in Texas that is a hidden gem. You likely won't see many photographs of it or stories about it. You may not even see it on a map. In my opinion it is one of the most underrated areas of the state. What is this area of Texas you ask? It's The Big Thicket region.
Historically, The Big Thicket comprised over three million acres. If you look at the descriptions of the historical Thicket it's detailed as the area covering South from the Old San Antonio road to the Gulf Coast plain and East to West from the Sabine River to the Brazos River. It was a region so thick with vegetation that the main means of travel was by boat. Logging, the oil industry, and increased population has tamed the Thicket, however there are still a few areas within The Big Thicket National Preserve that you can get this same sense of wild and what it used to be. The National Preserve now covers less than 120,000 of the once 3 million acres but you can truly get a sense of how dense the vegetation in this area once was via the trails and back roads.
So what makes the Big Thicket so special? The things you find here can be found most anywhere. But the question is can you find them in such close proximity to one another? Can you find Prickly Pear cactus and then find carnivorous plants a short distance away? Can you find a swamp and then close by find a pine savannah? Probably not, that is why you may hear the Big Thicket referred to as America's Biologic Crossroads. This intersection of ecologic regions provides unique opportunities for photography and exploration. The Big Thicket has anywhere from 7-10 ecological regions depending on the reference you go to. One of my favorite references about the plants of the Big Thicket is the book by Geraldine Watson, "Big Thicket Plant Ecology: An Introduction". It's an easy read and helps with understanding the different regions of the Thicket and what types of plants and scenes you may find to photograph.
I love to capture the grand landscape as well as the intimate scenes of the Thicket. The picture that started my love affair with The Big Thicket was taken in 2017. It was a foggy morning that seems like yesterday. I had been looking for somewhere new to photograph and explore close to home and had only been on the Kirby Nature Trail in the preserve so I thought I would check out something new. I decided on the Pitcher Plant Trail just outside of Warren, Texas. It had a short hike (about a mile) and a phenomenal bog of Pitcher Plants perfect for meeting my needs to get outdoors and see something new. With all the fog and humidity, the boardwalk on the trail was a little slippery but manageable. I got a few really nice shots of the pitcher plants and completed my hike. As I headed back to the car, the sun was just starting to illuminate the fog. There was such a soft glow to everything, it was just etherial and magical. I've been back to that trail many, many times in all kinds of conditions and feel like something new is revealed each and every time. The Big Thicket tells you her secrets slowly, like someone you've just met and are getting to know. I hope that you will find her the same as I, revealing those secrets each time you visit. Drop me a line and let me know if you've experienced the magic of the Thicket and learned any of her secrets. ~Michelle~