Over the past few weeks, record levels of rainfall in Southern California have caused a so-called "super bloom" of wildflowers, carpeting hillsides with patches of colorful buds. They're rare, they're beautiful, and unfortunately—thanks to humanity's insatiable desire to see them—they're turning us all into a bunch of terrible monsters, apparently.
On Sunday, city officials in Lake Elsinore, California, announced they had to close the popular Walker Canyon poppy fields after "Disneyland-size crowds" descended on the area to see the bloom and sparked a "public safety crisis," the Washington Post reports.
The whole thing may have started as a pure, innocent pilgrimage to witness the beauty of nature, but it quickly spiraled into what Lake Elsinore Mayor Steve Manor dubbed a "poppy apocalypse." First there were the brutal traffic jams, caused by drivers slowing down to take in the blooming poppy fields while they passed by. Then there were the unhinged tourists, who wandered off paths and trampled plants just to get a good photo. People were even apparently running each other over in their desperate, lawless quest to see a bunch of pretty flowers.
"One of our employees was hit and run by a driver. A rattlesnake bit a visitor. Residents have been screaming at the people directing traffic," Manos wrote in a Facebook update on Saturday. "Estimated 50,000 visitors. Twice as many as last weekend. People lined up since 5:30 am. It's insane."
The city was severely understaffed to handle such a massive influx of tourists. According to Manos, some toilets in Walker Canyon are backed up from overuse, and the traffic is so bad that city workers can't get in to empty them. The situation got so dire that even the employee who got hit by a fucking car didn't have time to go home and ice his wounds or whatever. He just "got up, limped off, and worked a 12-hour day," Manos wrote. "This is the commitment from your city staff."
Now, it's all over. The site is closed, and "no additional shuttles or visitors will be allowed" to check out the superbloom at Walker Canyon.
"This weekend has been unbearable, Lake Elsinore," the city wrote in a very sad post to its townspeople. "We know it has been miserable and has caused unnecessary hardships for our entire community."
Thanks a lot, everybody. Now no one gets to rack up any more sweet, sweet likes with a Walker Canyon #superbloomselfie. Spring is ruined.
Sign up for our newsletter to get the best of VICE delivered to your inbox daily.