An iconic sculpture that marks the end point of a 3-mile hike up a popular California mountain was vandalized, reports say.
Hikers hoping for a photo op with the “Mission Peeker” at the top of Mission Peak were surprised to find the top of it had been sawed completely off, SFGATE reported.
— bayareahiker (@bayareahiker2) September 5, 2023
The pole — named Mission Peeker for the sight tubes fastened to it — has been a destination at the top of the South Bay mountain for more than 30 years, the outlet reported.
It was created by Leonard Page, an artist and park ranger, in 1990, the outlet reported. He included the sight tubes so visitors could peek through at the scenery visible from the mountain peak.
“Mission Peak iconic sculpture vandalized,” the Mission Peak Conservancy said in a Sept. 4 post on Facebook, including a photo of the vandalism. “Theft of sighting tubes and destruction of park property.”
Officials with the conservancy later said in the comments that the East Bay Regional Park District confirmed park staff had found the missing piece.
A hiker also shared a photo they had captured of the sawed-off Mission Peeker “sitting on the hillside” over the weekend.
“It had to weigh 80lbs or more given the thickness of the metal,” someone said. “It would be very difficult to carry off the hill.”
Officials with the East Bay Regional Park District did not immediately respond to McClatchy News’ request for information.
In an email to McClatchy News, Mission Peak Conservancy co-founder William Yragui said the parks district will determine how to reattach the sawed-off segment “to restore this very important cultural artifact.”
The easiest way to do that will likely be to weld the two sections together with a portable welding rig, which the parks district sometimes uses to repair cattle gates and cattle guards in the park, Yragui said.
But the restoration process may hit a snag — neighbors at the Standford Avenue trailhead have asked the park district ”to not make any improvements to the park,” he said.
In a statement, officials with the park district said they were “saddened” by the incident, KTVU reported. “Any vandalism from destruction to graffiti affects what should be a positive, happy experience for community members to enjoy open space and the many trails in our regional parks,” the station reported.
While the parks district recovered the sawed off piece, officials didn’t say whether the over 6-foot-tall “cultural monument” would be restored, the station reported.
Hikers and residents questioned why someone would target the iconic landmark.
“I just can’t imagine what would be going through someone’s mind that would compel them to do that because it’s not just a landmark, people interact with it,” Joyce Lee told KGO. “You need a specific tool to cut something like that down, you need to spend time to bring yourself up 2,100 feet over 3 miles. It’s not a low-effort crime.”
The Fremont resident told the station the “one-of-a-kind pole” has four faces that let visitors look at the Bay Area’s iconic peaks to the north and south. She’s been visiting it for decades on holidays and birthdays, she told the station.
“It’s really upsetting because that’s the peak, that’s where you know that you finally made it up, it’s on top of where all the rocks are, all the people kind of gather up just for that picture but not anymore,” Claudia Bejarano told the station.
Anyone with information about the vandalism should contact the East Bay Regional Park District’s Public Safety Department at 510-690-6521.