One on One: DC’s Diamond Hikers

by Shilpi Paul

One on One: DC's Diamond Hikers: Figure 1
Peter and Margaret Bakke

In this edition of One on One, UrbanTurf chats with Peter and Margaret Bakke, siblings who decided to walk along the boundary of the District to visit every remaining boundary stone. The Bakkes, who are life-long area residents, spent four days completing their journey last week, and documented it on Twitter along the way.

We talked to the Bakkes about why they decided to walk DC’s perimeter, how they planned their journey, and some of the most interesting sights they spotted along the way.

How did you come up with the idea to hike the boundary of DC?

Margaret: Four years ago, I was designing a tattoo and reading about DC’s boundary, and I learned about the boundary stones. Mark Zimmerman has a website that has a lot of information. People have been to all the stones, they are documented and over the years people visit them to maintain them.

We both are starting new jobs [Margaret, 28, is a nurse at Children’s Hospital, and Peter, 26, is a high school biology teacher], so we thought we should do this now, when we have time off.

Peter: Because of the website, we knew it was possible. They are small stones, so without good information we wouldn’t have felt like we would have been able to do it.

How did you map your route?

P: I used Google maps, and the website has some pretty detailed locations. We used Margaret’s smartphone to pinpoint exactly where the stones were in terms of GPS coordinates.

One on One: DC's Diamond Hikers: Figure 2

How many boundary stones are there, and how long did this trip take?

P: There were originally 40 boundary stones. The DC original boundary is ten miles by ten miles, and there is a stone marking every mile. Now, there are 36 left. We ended up walking about 60 miles, over four days. We decided to dedicate one day to each side, and that worked out pretty well.

Did you guys encounter any other landmarks besides the stones?

M: The southern tip is right under the Woodrow Wilson Bridge at the lighthouse at Jones Point, which is really beautiful. In Alexandria, we passed the Masonic Temple. We walked through Old Town. But the NE boundary, for example, is not very happening.

P: We went through the main water treatment facility in DC, and we had special access to go there.

M: We called ahead, and one of the civil engineers gave us a tour and took us to two of the boundary stones that are within the perimeters there. And they had to keep a close eye on us so we didn’t poison the water systems!

What surprised you along the way? What are some of the cooler things you encountered?

P: Takoma was the most beautiful part, and the farmer’s market there. It was a part of DC we’d never really seen before.

M: We walked along the Capital Crescent Trail for about five miles, and that was really beautiful. We also went into a Tibetan chanting church. They pulled us in and we couldn’t say no! And we got to knock on doors, because some stones are in people’s yards. We trespassed a lot.

Would you guys recommend that other people do this walk?

P: It’s a little tough on your body if you’re not used to walking, and it’s not all scenic. But it was a fun mission for us.

One on One: DC's Diamond Hikers: Figure 3

M: You have to really like walking as a meditation. It was intense and hot and long. Some stretches were super adventurous where we were down under bridges, but a lot of stretches are in deserted neighborhoods.

P: But, there is enough to look forward to, in terms of a scavenger hunt with the stones and seeing parts of the city you might not have seen.

M: You have something to do every mile. As soon as we found the last stone, we were starting to look for the next one, so it was never boring. I wouldn’t recommend it to tourists, but for people who are local, it’s such a new way to see the city.

See other articles related to: one on one, boundary stones

This article originally published at https://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/one_on_one_dcs_diamond_hikers/7497


  1. Donda said at 4:36 pm on Friday August 23, 2013:
    Extremely cool!
  1. daveb59 said at 4:22 pm on Wednesday August 28, 2013:
    That is an uber-geeky thing...and it's so up my alley.
  1. Mark Zimmermann said at 2:39 am on Tuesday September 3, 2013:
    congrats! - and correction: http://boundarystones.org is Mark KENNEDY's web site, not mine ... I just took some of the photos and GPS coordinates that are posted there ... MK is far far ahead of me in visiting boundary stones and researching them!
  1. love you said at 6:08 am on Saturday January 4, 2014:
    I know your'e a Lee High school teacher. A very handsome one... very handsome, you should call me sometime. -Anonymous
  1. Madison said at 11:54 pm on Tuesday March 18, 2014:
    Lol Mr.Bakke!!! Why are you so cute? Haha I see you in biology cracking jokes I love that your my freshman biology teacher.

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