Today we headed to Taylor’s Lane for a good hike. Beautiful day, warm and sunny. The woods were buzzing–literally–full of mosquitos and gnats. Still, it was a great hike and the cache was cleverly hid about 50 feet off trail in a beautiful spot.

There was a great old tower of some sort–a big hunk of concrete on the river bed which I imagine is covered at high tide. We climbed up to find nothing very exciting, just some graffiti. But the sky was beautiful:

On the way to the cache, we passed a couple sitting on a small swamp bridge with their dog. We waved hello and they waved back. About 15 minutes later, as we stood at a trail crossroads trying to decide where to find the cache, the couple approached us. I’m sure we looked strange standing in the middle of the woods, fidgeting with an iPhone. The woman asked if we were “just out for a hike,” so I attempted to explain what we were doing. She then asked if geocaching involved marking the trails at all.

My heart sank. I knew immediately where this was going, as we’d passed a bit of trail marking ourselves–I’d noticed, not half an hour earlier, that there were some leaves on the trail that had been spray painted a bright purple. However, I told her no, we weren’t marking trails, and offered to turn out my field bag so she could see we only had geocaching trinkets (leftovers from Jake’s Halloween party, actually). She waved off my offer and explained that sometime in the past 15 minutes, someone had tagged the area with spray paint. She and her husband (?) then wandered off the way they came, and D and I located the cache and made for the car.

On the way back to the car, we saw more, fresher evidence of the spray paint–more tree trunks tagged, and the smell of it was everywhere. By the time we reached the trailhead where the car was parked, we found one massive trunk tagged with a bright pink heart and a bright blue smiley face. They definitely had not been there when we headed in to the woods.

We suspect the culprits were a trio of teenage girls–when we were climbing the tower, they passed us on the trail. By the time we left, they were long gone. But it’s frustrating and disheartening, and it worries me that this happens at such a beautiful place.

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