Vandalism on Vedder Mountain slides into malicious territory
Even a skilled mountain biker would not have seen the hidden danger until it was too late.
Anyone taking the jump would have plummeted onto sawed-up chunks of wood — with the unsuspecting rider suffering untold injuries.
Mark Steinebach, president of the Vedder Mountain Trails Association, has never seen trail vandalism like this in his life.
Two incidents of malicious damage to several jump features have been identified, along with sign thefts.
"We love this area on Vedder Mountain. We love the trails and we exist to make these trails better," Steinebach explained in an interview with The Progress. "We're all about making them fun and safe."
One incident was reported by trail users at the end of December.
A contingent from Fraser Valley Mountain Bike Association, Vedder Running Club, Chilliwack Outdoor Club and several VMTA members answered the call to action, and repaired the damaged trail. The end result was an even better trail feature.
Then another report came in last week, with vandalism affecting multiple trail features. The damage required the use of extension ladders and chainsaws to wreak the savage destruction on the wooden structures and to climb up and steal the signage.
These are two well-used and well cared for trails, said Steinebach. The ones affected were known as 'Skidder' and 'Dilemma' by the trail-using community that makes up VMTA.
Dilemma gets the most amount of non-motorized traffic among trail users, but the different groups share the resource.
"We are just outraged about the notion that someone has decided to wreck the jumps, which is bad enough, but it also looks like there was some intent to harm somebody," Steinebach said.
The wood sections were cut on an angle and made to look normal, with the destroyed features just waiting to injure someone.
Chillingly, the evidence of the damage to the jumps, the way they were cut on an angle, appeared identical on both trails.
"It's a nasty piece of work."
Malicious intent to harm riders is the only conclusion, since the structures couldn't even be patched up with a brace.
"We can't stand by and do nothing," he implored. "Someone could get hurt next time. It might be a child."
Of course riders wear helmets and protective gear, but when they come to an abrupt halt, like they would in the case of these vandalized jumps, they're going to get hurt, said Steinebach.
These jumps are taken with speeds of up to 30km/hr by riders with skill. Steinebach knows because he's ridden them.
"They're super fun. But the rider is not on these jumps with the notion that they might collapse."
These incidents have caused unprecented challenges for the VMTA members.
Adding surveillance cameras and more volunteer eyes in the woods, are the some of the ways they're responding.
"There are way more eyes and ears in the forest than people are aware of."
He said he's at a loss to explain the motivation for the damage.
"There have been no reports of any conflicts," he said.
Someone may have heard chainsaws running or seen someone walking out of the bush carrying a ladder and chainsaw.
"We need people to come forward to help us here," he said.
The VMTA plans to offer a cash reward of $1,000 for information leading to the arrest of the perpetrator, and are asking any witnesses to the chainsaw incidents to call police at 604-792-4611.