Marilyn Brister became a Master Naturalist in 2011–the Painted Bunting Class—after her retirement from Central Texas Medical Center. She grew up in Little Rock, Arkansas, and has lived in San Marcos since 1966. She oversees the two small gardens at the New Braunfels Railroad Museum, working there as a volunteer one morning a week. She likes walking and hiking and has walked in all 50 states.
Why do you value the natural areas?
I like the peace and quiet of these areas, and I enjoy the simple beauty of the land.
What is your favorite trail?
Spring Lake Natural Area is the closest to my house. I have developed a routine that avoids for the most part going up or down steep hills with loose rock. From the point of view of a senior citizen the best route starts from the Lime Kiln parking lot. Follow Blue Heron a short distance to Centipede. Then take Centipede, and turn left at Grey Fox for a short distance to Bluestem. Follow Bluestem to Buckeye, back to Centipede, and then Blue Heron to the parking lot. This route offers a mainly flat trail in the shade where you can walk fast and get your heart rate up, and also have a little time in the sun. This route takes about 45 minutes.
What do you most enjoy doing when you visit the Greenbelt?
I am interested in identifying native plants and trees. On my last walk I identified an Ironwood plant, which I had never seen before.
What recommendations would you give new users of the trail?
Take a map and plenty of water. For new walkers, it is better to enjoy a short trail than to come back exhausted from a long one. There are very few benches on the trails.
What do you like to do as an SMGA volunteer?
I work once a week at the Discovery Center weeding, propagating new plants, and pruning. I am also a member of Team Flora. We gather seeds anywhere we can find them and sow them in the natural areas. Right now, I am gathering mealy blue sage, greenthread, and Texas star