Checking the news, message boards, Facebook, and a couple of subreddits are part of my morning ‘coffee and news’ routine before digging into work for the day. As I went though my daily ritual, I stumbled across a thread (now removed) that showed a picture of graffiti discovered by a packer along a trail near Vernal Falls. This graffiti was signed with a name “creepytings”.

Yosemite 'creepytings' vandalism

Yosemite ‘creepytings’ vandalism: image via reddit thread

The name on the graffiti corresponded to an instagram account (now private). Within the first page of pictures on the account, I saw two more pictures of graffiti in National Parks. One at Crater Lake:

Crater Lake Vandalism

Crater Lake Vandalism via ‘creepytings’ instagram account

And another on Telescope Peak in Death Valley:

Death Valley Vandalism

Death Valley Vandalism via ‘creepytings’ instagram account

Scrolling through her other images, it quickly became clear to me that this account was linked to a New Yorker on a long trip through the parks of the western US. Within a few minutes I saw she had also visited Bryce, Zion, Joshua Tree, and other public lands. She seemed proud of the ‘art’, and appeared to take a lot of pride and happiness in the ‘work’, based on the image comments.

At this point, I posted a link to the above image on the Death Valley National Park Facebook page, where it quickly gained traction. People browsed the tumblr account (NSFW) she linked to from her instagram account and soon found evidence of defaced rock in both Zion and Canyonlands. She actually posted a picture of a person defacing rock near an archeological site in Canyonlands.

Fortunately, an investigator from Yosemite National Park quickly responded to the original reddit thread and has the information above despite the accounts being made private (nothing can be unseen on the internet!) The vandalism has been reported to the parks in which she posted pictures of the ‘work’, and undoubtedly more examples will turn up along the path of destruction through the West.

My first reaction is naturally anger – what gives anyone the right to make land that belongs to all of us their personal canvas? Then it turned to sympathy – maybe this poor person has never experienced the feelings these awesome places give us, and this was their way of expressing joy. Maybe they had never been taught the principles of Leave No Trace. Maybe this was just an example of someone not being educated enough? Is it chalk? Will it wash off? Then I saw this comment on the image of the vandalism at Crater Lake:

Screen Shot 2014-10-21 at 6.21.06 PM

 

Oh, she knew. Back to anger.

In my mind, there are two things that lead to people defacing public lands: ignorance and narcissism. After seeing that comment, this person clearly falls into the second bucket. The question is, how do we turn this into an opportunity to educate the ignorant and (frankly) embarrass the narcissists? I doubt this is the exposure the ‘artist’ was looking for. There’s no going viral with these ‘beautiful’ images, they’re going viral as an arrogant vandal who is a mediocre artist at best.

Right now it is the hands of the authorities. While vandalism is common, I don’t recall any case of such damage by the same person across multiple National Parks. It will be interesting to see how this one plays out. I hope the next time I am on Telescope Peak I see the responsible party up there, scrubbing away the awful ‘art’ with their own personal toothbrush.

Update: This post has gotten a lot of attention and inbound links. Hello reddit!

The original goal of sharing this vandalism was to bring it to the attention of the necessary authorities so the proper procedures could be followed to bring this vandal to justice. It appears that this goal has been met.

I’m a bit (a lot) disturbed by a lot of the responses of hate speech and advocating of violence. I know a lot of you are angry (I’m with ya) and want to vent, but that kind of speech gets us no where and reflects poorly on you, not the vandal. I’m looking forward to her time in court and (hopefully) appropriate punishment.

I think a much more valuable use of our energy is a discussion about how to prevent this in the future and handle these situations when we come across them in our own time in the back- and front-country.

Update #2: The National Park Service has issued a statement

Update #3: The Tumblr is back up with plenty of statements that indicate zero remorse or regret for what she has done. Maybe the work of a hacker, maybe not.

Update #4: According to Trailmob.com, the vandal has turned herself in and is cooperating with authorities.

Update #5: I was asked to write an Editorial that was published today on theguardian.com about why this is terrible and why we should care.

Update #6: Casey Nocket has officially been named the suspect under investigation in this NPS press release.

Categories: Outdoor News

Rebecca Sowards-Emmerd

Mountain sports addict. Dog Mom. Craft beer drinker. Tech nerd. The best days are those spent above 10k ft. Meet me on Twitter, Facebook, or Google +

82 Comments

pat · October 21, 2014 at 9:38 pm

That really makes me angry. They really need to upgrade the penalties on crimes like this.

Death Valley Jim · October 21, 2014 at 9:55 pm

You said it all!

saucetin · October 22, 2014 at 5:29 am

Vandal has the funds for an extreme wide-angle camera lens unless it’s just a
$60 screw-on adapter on a mobile phone. Kid with a trust fund and an attitude.

    Rene · October 29, 2014 at 7:19 am

    you really don’t need a trust fund to get a wide angle lens, if you get it second hand it’s not THAT expensive.

      saucetin · October 29, 2014 at 9:13 am

      You’re right. She probably just sold some Molly to pay for the cross-country trip to all those exotic locales. Turns out she’s a plumber’s daughter. The ‘trust fund’ part’s more about her sense of entitlement.

Barrison Hughes · October 22, 2014 at 7:16 am

Unsurprisingly, she’s been in trouble before, though for a different charge:

http://www.dailyfreeman.com/general-news/20120110/law-disorder-jan-10-2012

Last Adventurer · October 22, 2014 at 9:54 am

The vandals I ran across as a Ranger in Yosemite in the 90s were so much more…tame, and dare I say, it mild. Something like this reeks of premeditation, intent, and willfulness – all factors that should support a conviction. I personally would like to see all of the charges brought in one omnibus complaint against her, which would in theory, lead to a stronger case. Its very sad – and infuriating to see something like this. In response to your comment about how to educate someone like this, I think that some people just lie beyond the educational realm, unfortunately. Her comments about how she *knew* that it was bad support this. Very unfortunate.

    calipidder · October 22, 2014 at 10:53 am

    If these had been in chalk and could wash away, or not personally identifiable and no vandal to be found, I might say this could be a great educational opportunity. Instead, I’m just left shaking my head at the attitude exhibited in the instagram comments.

    By the way, her IG and Tumblr have all been deleted. Not that it will help her – the investigator had screenshots of the images and comments long before she took them down.

noahvolek · October 22, 2014 at 10:41 am

Vandalism or art? I think it’s nice.

    calipidder · October 22, 2014 at 10:51 am

    Art? Debatable. I’m not here to debate what I think of her ‘art’ – it’s entirely subjective and we’re not settling that matter here. What is black and white is that it is vandalism, plain and simple. Defacing federal lands is a felony. If you don’t like that, write your representatives.

    chickadee · October 22, 2014 at 6:51 pm

    You’ve missed the point entirely; it wound’t matter if Leonardo da Vinci painted the rocks, it is defacement.

      Guest · October 22, 2014 at 6:53 pm

      And it’s not art, by any standards.

    Guest · October 22, 2014 at 6:52 pm

    And it’s not art. Not by any standards.

    MEOregonian · October 23, 2014 at 12:43 pm

    Nice try, Casey Nocket

    ptptp · October 25, 2014 at 7:47 pm

    It’s vandalism whether it’s art or not.

    Mare Arthur-Reasons · October 26, 2014 at 5:22 pm

    That land belongs to all of us.. we the people, I did not receive a phone call asking permission, what a piece of crap her drawing are, I’ve seen an elephant draw better than her.

TEEJAYZ · October 22, 2014 at 2:58 pm

You did an awesome job in breaking this and yeah…it’s starting to gain some real traction. Myself and others have been submitting it to news organizations and there’s even an online White House petition to find and arrest this woman.

While I haven’t seen a lot of calls for violence against this woman I personally have NO problem in what I’m sure were the countless messages to her (now closed) Facebook account. And if “hate speech’ is calling someone out for their abhorrent actions that will negatively impact countless people; then I’m guilty as charged.

Mary Sojourner · October 22, 2014 at 3:01 pm

Wow, you nailed it. She does that “Oooooo, I’m so bad bullshit.” that creeps like her fall back on. It’s supposed to be charming. I want to explore this further. Thank you so much!

Mary Sojourner · October 22, 2014 at 3:05 pm

Her name is Casey Nocket.

Nate K · October 22, 2014 at 8:58 pm

Vandals are easy to deal with if you have a large flashlight, or even better a camera and a cellphone on hand to report to the local sheriff. Vandalism, especially on rock should be dealt with immedite and swift force.

jkf · October 23, 2014 at 6:40 am

it belongs to them

    John Lubeck · October 24, 2014 at 11:28 am

    What sort of moronic statement is that? What does it mean? Are you suggesting that because the national parks belong to the citizens of the US that anyone can do anything they choose to them?

Brian · October 23, 2014 at 9:33 am

As much as I was replused by the vandalism, I was also nauseated by all the misogynistic comments and threats of violence. I understand the anger, but c’mon! You can condemn the vandalism without resorting to behavior that’s equally as repulsive.

    ThatDCGuy · October 23, 2014 at 6:20 pm

    Sorry, but she is literally destroying our national heritage. Calls for violence are a tithe too far, but this entitled asshole deserves everything the legal system has to offer, and I don’t blame people for venting. If it was a guy, the vitriol would be equally as harsh. What makes it worse is that she has tried to hide behind the banner of feminism in her Tumblr – which is why I am going to let the sex-based insults slide in my personal opinion.

    cnn_5tOJwL1PZsnnIttnosbUcfokgH · October 25, 2014 at 11:24 pm

    nah. exterminate all subhuman garbage.

Art Historian, Northern Europe · October 23, 2014 at 9:55 am

If it was art, she would have approached the parks as a legitimate artist for permission to do a temporary installation or hold a show in an exhibit space. If it was graffiti there was no statement. Her work is repetitive, banal, narcissistic, shows no cultural reference, and lacks technical skill. She is, at best, a hack. A self-involved, disrespectful hack, with little brain matter and lots of hubris to spare. Daddy done well with his millions in Dutchess Tekcon heating. I were to see her name on an art school application, I’d tell her to apply at the corner diner instead.

Knuckles Mutatis · October 23, 2014 at 10:50 am

Considering the deeply serious level of destruction brought upon natural places by modern civilization, and seeing how few pristine places actually remain, it is anything but Art to walk into a National Park and bring about that same destruction. Such is not Art – it is cliché. If I came across someone doing this sort of thing to Pictured Rocks or the like (I’m over in Michigan), I would do my best to make sure that they would not be leaving any other way than under arrest.

Ramon LP4 Medina · October 23, 2014 at 11:38 am

Thanks so much for the update. I was really taken aback and saddened by some of the responses I’ve seen and I’m glad to see you call those folks out. We should naturally be outraged but we should be civil as well.

Rob Smith · October 23, 2014 at 1:14 pm

Fine the perpetrator the full cost to remove and repair all damages, plus a penalty – and require education about why this is earned. That should be fair.

Anthony R · October 23, 2014 at 7:25 pm

I’m saddened that someone with the initiative to visit the backcountry also possessed such ignorance and disregard for other’s experience of wilderness.

    Mare Arthur-Reasons · October 26, 2014 at 5:19 pm

    you said it.. hope she falls of a cliff in the back country

Pat · October 23, 2014 at 8:13 pm

It’s obvious that this girl is just another narcissistic, selfie taking, moron, who takes pride in her horrible behavior. Probably never heard the word “No”, or made to take responsibility for any wrong doing in her life. Punishment should be the maximum prison sentence, fined and made to work with a trail crew during a summer season as public restitution.

Hubblay-Bubblay · October 23, 2014 at 10:59 pm

Looks like folk art to me. You guys need to lighten up.

    Wayne Stadtfeld · October 24, 2014 at 9:53 am

    It doesn’t matter what you call it. It’s vandalism and defacement of National Park property PERIOD. I hope she gets a HUGE fine and also has to be personally made to remove them with someone standing over her of course.

    chickadee · October 24, 2014 at 3:13 pm

    “Folk art” my ass. What’s your address? I’ll be over to paint a big ugly face with a cigarette dangling from the lips on your house and car tomorrow, okay?

    I very strongly suspect the criminal’s friends are posting on all the blogs that have reported her crimes.

    GunTotingLib · October 25, 2014 at 3:21 pm

    Will stop by your house on the way home and GIVE you some of my folk art. BTW what color is your car, I want to make sure I bring the right colors to go with the background color when I create some folk are on your fenders. Glad to know you’ll be fine with it.

    Chaparral Hiker · October 26, 2014 at 9:03 pm

    Running to the defense of your idol? Stop the lame hero worship and be mindful of the principle that people are invoking here. Narcissism does not trump the good of what is commonly held, yours or hers.

    Chaparral Hiker · October 26, 2014 at 9:04 pm

    If this was art, it was BAD art. Really bad. If she wants to be an artist, let her compete for gallery space and sell it to someone who wants it.

John Lubeck · October 24, 2014 at 10:38 am

The National Parks are one of the greatest treasures this country has. We’ve been very fortunate to visit a number of them. In Yosemite a few years ago, I was stunned by a girl throwing a cigarette butt into the stream below Yosemite Falls. People that have no sense or understanding of the gift of nature that the US has preserved for the enjoyment of all people. This woman / person should be prosecuted to the fullest possible extent of the law. If existing laws are not sufficient to convince people this behavior is intolerable, then existing punishments should be enhanced until they do.

J.J. · October 24, 2014 at 12:29 pm

Lock up the feminist and throw away the key.

Btw always say no to plagiarism.

    chickadee · October 24, 2014 at 3:09 pm

    Feminist? What the hell does whether she’s a feminist have to do with this?

      Chaparral Hiker · October 26, 2014 at 9:01 pm

      Nothing.

    Chaparral Hiker · October 26, 2014 at 9:00 pm

    I don’t see her as a feminist — more a common narcissist.

Chaparral Hiker · October 24, 2014 at 11:38 pm

I am just in shock. I think she should be made to scrub off her work with steel wool to the satisfaction of park rangers, pay a heavy fine, and then serve a little jail time.

    chickadee · October 25, 2014 at 8:51 am

    Here’s the thing, Chaparral: Though scrubbing may or may not remove the offensive scribbling (and it’s very likely not to, in some cases), the removal process itself could cause further harm. Some of the rock she shat on are sandstone, and precarious as it is. I hear you, but I think a lot of people think the rest of us are over-reacting because they think it’s just a matter of “removing” this shite. Would that it were that easy.

      Chaparral Hiker · October 26, 2014 at 9:01 pm

      I hear you. I suggested steel wool because it would do less damage to the surrounding environment than chemicals and be a lot of work.

Anton Berlin · October 25, 2014 at 8:22 am

They should lock her hot little body up for a long time. And if she needs a cell mate…. give me a call.

Armchair Explorer · October 25, 2014 at 4:35 pm

So far I’ve been creeped out by the idea of drones in national parks, but if it’s a quick way to catch vandals like this in the act……!

Mare Arthur-Reasons · October 26, 2014 at 5:18 pm

you piece of shit gal, your mama should have aborted you

    Jason Michael Baumgartner · November 1, 2014 at 11:21 am

    While what she did is reprehensible, wishing someone dead is just juvenile.

omarsidd · October 27, 2014 at 6:30 pm

How horrible to deface natural beauty in the few fragmented lands that remain pristine for all to share and enjoy. Clearly her parents screwed up majorly if that needs to be explained to a 21-year-old.

The only problem I have with the (rightful) emphasis on letting the law punish her, is that the penalties are exceedingly minor, and youthful indiscretion for a misdemeanor, esp if she has no record…and with the current court backlog…it won’t even get to a hearing. Whee, she’ll be banned from some parks for a couple of years and pay a minor fine (which her parents will probably cover). That’s hardly punishment fitting the crime.

While both the laws and stewardship of public lands needs to be strengthened (NPS is historically woefully underfunded), we as society need to ensure that stupid “kids” (21 is plenty adult) aren’t allowed to get away with idiotic “YOLO” attitudes towards damage and thoughtlessness like this. Call them out for the bad, shallow people they are, rather than coddling them “oh she’s remorseful, it’s okay!”.

Marilyn Comparetto · October 28, 2014 at 12:15 am

I completely see this as an unwanted act too but the problem is this reaction has provided the coverage and media attention she was after and may even fuel others to try the same path of success!!
The easiest way to get rid of this graffiti,apart from using chemicals, would have been to mix some colours to match the surface it was painted on and cover it over…job done and no fuss.

    chickadee · October 28, 2014 at 3:20 pm

    It’s not someone’s garage door in Queens or a storefront in Long Beach; it millions of years of evolution and those rocks will continue to evolve, as they should. Your soution is far from desirable, even if Pablo Picasso was hired to mix the paint to match.

      Rachel · October 29, 2014 at 6:05 pm

      I do agree, but I have to point out, rocks don’t evolve. Evolution is done by living organisms, rocks change by being weathered, etc.

calipidder · October 29, 2014 at 6:56 pm

For those who are subscribed to updates via the comment thread, I added a few things to this post today.

First, I added a link to an editorial piece I wrote for The Guardian about why this is terrible and why we should care.

Second, some good news to report from the NPS in that they have officially named Casey Nocket as a suspect. I had refrained from publishing her name until if became official.

Petesthousandpeaks · October 3, 2015 at 12:52 am

Atop Mt. Rose last weekend, I was witness to a small child brought up by some person looking with some approval or at least complete disinterest in what the child was doing. He used a rock to scratch into another rock, some carving or impact, and as it was not my responsibility, I merely looked at both of them with some disapproval. Completely ignored, I also noticed a summit register nearby, which looked to have been placed in complete disregard of National Forest directives, given to me by their top recreation officer last Spring. All in a wilderness area, it appears that some rules and regulations are meant for people like me, responsible and wishing to stop graffiti and vandalism, in favor of those who seek exactly the opposite. Being that it was a highly minor scratch, I gave it no much attention, like scuffing by rocks embedded in a boot on rocks on a trail. However, this points out the attitude by users of the national forest. I say, public lands for public use, not abuse, but it looks that even the national forest or ever park service neither agree or ever comply!

Kathy Waters · June 15, 2016 at 9:37 am

Convicted and sentenced! Yay! Not enough punishment I think, but can’t wait to see what the restitution costs will be!

Feds hunt clueless graffiti ‘artist’ in Yosemite, other parks « Graffiti « skaty9.com · October 23, 2014 at 11:53 am

[…] out of the mouth, was etched on a granite rock near Yosemite’s Vernal Falls, according to blogger Rebecca Sowards-Emmerd of San Jose, one of the first to come across the self-incriminating graffiti pics on the Instagram account […]

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[…] out of the mouth, was etched on a granite rock near Yosemite’s Vernal Falls, according to blogger Rebecca Sowards-Emmerd of San Jose, Calif., one of the first to come across the self-incriminating graffiti pics on the […]

National Parks vandal’s fake Tumblr is very entertaining » Gen Y Daily · October 24, 2014 at 9:39 am

[…] discovered by a packer along a trail near Vernal Falls [in Yosemite National Park],” she wrote on her blog, Calipidder. “This graffiti was signed with a name ‘creepytings.’ […]

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[…] story broke when two California outdoors bloggers — The Modern Hiker and Calipidder — stumbled across Nocket’s account and alerted the Internet and the proper authorities […]

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