As many on this blog know, I am a lifelong hiker and backpacker. I often do dawn hikes on the Billy Goat trail along the Potomac, one of the most cherished and beautiful areas in the Washington metropolitan area. This morning, I decided to celebrate my birthday with one of my dawn hikes and it was glorious. I had the trail to myself as the sun was coming up over the Potomac. It was a perfect hike until I made it to the end of the trail (one the Angler’s end) where the beautiful rock face is now defaced with anti-police graffiti.
People ruin these natural areas to achieve a type of infamous notoriety. Despite being one of the most beloved and used trails in this area, there has been virtually no graffiti for decades. I suppose it was too much to expect that our age of rage would not reach such pristine areas. Someone hiked down the trial with a spray can to deface nature to convey their hatred for the police. Among the graffiti was the common phrase used in violent protests in cities from Portland to Seattle to Washington: “F**K 12.”
There is a debate as to the origin of the common anti-police phrase but some believe was popularized in Atlanta, Georgia as an anti-police slogan and refers to police radio code “10-12” and the 1968 TV show Adam-12.
I have notified the Park Service at its website on graffiti.
As someone who has hiked the trial for decades, the appearance of the graffiti was crushing. I often thought that nature remains common ground for people from every political and cultural group. Whatever anger we experience in our lives, nature offers us a release as a place of contemplation and inspiration. The belief was reinforced by how the trail remained free of graffiti and largely free of any trash. It was reassuring that we all seemed to be joined by our common connection to nature.
For those who still value natural beauty and its transformative elements, here are a few pictures from my dawn hike: