Trolling the Great Outdoors

When folks in and round Denver say, “Smells like Greeley,” they imply that the air reeks of the feedlots ringing the metropolis of Greeley, the state’s slaughterhouse, and in addition that snow could also be on the means. Updrafts blowing off the Plains condense in the excessive mountain air and ship a treasured useful resource: recent powder for the ski areas; water for the ranchers, farmers, and marijuana grow-ops. Renewal comes disguised as rot.

For David Lesh, the scent of Greeley has typically prompted him to fly his single-engine airplane from Denver as much as the mountains, to work and play in the snow. Lesh, who’s thirty-five, has been snowboarding in the Colorado Rockies for sixteen winters. During a lot of them, he was an expert—he carried out aerial tips in photograph and video shoots on behalf of sponsors. In 2012, annoyed with this association, he began designing and manufacturing his personal mountain-sports outerwear, founding an organization he ultimately referred to as Virtika. Effectively, he was sponsoring himself. Lesh, who markets the model totally on social media, initiatives a rogue persona and a lavish life model, filled with decadence and hazard. Rally automobiles, airplanes, parachutes, snowmobiles, machine weapons, medicine, bikinis, booze: “Jackass” meets “Big Pimpin’,” by means of “Hot Dog.” The act has helped him purchase each a viable buyer base—self-styled insurgent snow-riders and park rats—and the contempt of his fellow-Coloradans.

He broadened each constituencies in the summer time of 2019, after he and a pal went snowmobiling close to Independence Pass, simply earlier than Independence Day. Three girls from Aspen, together with the govt director of an area conservation group, occurred to be out in the excessive nation gathering knowledge for a analysis venture on the altering bloom instances of alpine wildflowers. Lesh and his pal roared into view, driving their sleds under the snow line, throughout the fragile tundra. The girls took photographs of them, and of shrubs and grass that regarded to have been torn up by their treads. The two males had apparently been driving their machines in a federal wilderness space, the place motorized automobiles are forbidden. The girls reported them to the U.S. Forest Service and to the Aspen Times—“Environmentally unconscionable,” one in all the girls stated—whereas Lesh posted photos that his pal had taken of him snowmobiling earlier in the day, shirtless underneath his crimson Virtika bib overalls. Lesh then posted a picture of the Aspen Times article and wrote, “I’d like to thank everyone that made this possible,” with prayer-hands and laughing-face emojis. The Forest Service related the dots, I.D.’d the perp, and filed prices. (Lesh had additionally just lately posted photographs of himself on his sled on the summit of Mt. Elbert, Colorado’s highest peak, additionally off limits to motorized transport.) Conservationists and editorial writers denounced him, as did three snowmobile commerce associations, in a joint assertion. “Stupid behavior for social media is never OK,” the head of one in all them stated. Lesh had misplaced even the sled-necks.

Other provocations and federal prices ensued in the months that adopted. By final summer time, Lesh had change into a Rocky Mountain pariah. Coloradans circulated a petition to have his enterprise license revoked and to have him banished from the state. Death threats piled up, concentrating on not simply him however his little one (he doesn’t have one) and his canine. He posted all of them on his Instagram: “I hope you starve to death and your whole family dies”; “You have TINY DICK ENERGY”; “Lock your doors tonight”; “Go suck a fuck.” People protested exterior Virtika’s headquarters and spat on Lesh’s automotive. Three of his sponsored athletes ditched the model. In the native press and on social media, folks unearthed earlier sins. Some years again, Lesh had been arrested for arson, after setting fireplace to a tower of purchasing carts and plowing via the blaze in an outdated Isuzu Trooper for a Virtika video. The identical yr, he bought a ticket from the Colorado Division of Wildlife for chasing a moose. A Reddit consumer with the deal with FoghornFarts (really, a chemical engineer and his spouse, a Web developer, in Denver) described witnessing his deplorable conduct on a 2019 journey via the Galápagos: Lesh and a girlfriend had apparently sneaked away from their information to get photographs of him astride an enormous tortoise. Lesh’s Instagram posts prompted the Ecuadoran authorities to threaten to revoke the information’s and the clothes shop’s licenses. One headline referred to as him “THE WORST TOURIST IN THE WORLD.”

In October, Lesh posted a photograph on Instagram of him standing ankle-deep in a beloved and federally protected high-alpine lake close to Aspen, earlier than a backdrop of the Maroon Bells, the state’s most recognizable peaks. He’s seen in profile, semi-crouched and bare, shorts bunched under his knees. Against the reflection of the sky on the water, one could make out what seems to be a descending turd. “Moved to Colorado 15 years ago, finally made it to Maroon Lake,” the caption learn. “A scenic dump with no one there was worth the wait.”

The huge outdoor-apparel firms prefer to proclaim their conservationist values and their stewardship of the wild locations that their merchandise allow people to go to. Patagonia, the North Face, Arc’teryx, R.E.I.: such manufacturers have gone to nice lengths to guarantee their prospects—as purchasers of factory-made petroleum-based clothes and as friends in locations that may be higher off with out them—that they’re a part of the answer. Sometimes the firms come by the rectitude actually, and typically it’s simply advertising and marketing, or green-washing. Either means, the presumption is that the public needs, or might be made to need, to purchase items from an organization that takes pains to guard, slightly than poop on, the pure world.

Lesh has stalked a buyer extra like himself: the gearhead, the flouter of pieties, the exploder of gasoline tanks. “Sure, that’s what appeals to a wider demographic,” he informed me, once I requested him about the Patagonias of the world. “But, me being a little guy, it’s not interesting or unique. You’re not getting noticed being super ‘eco this’ and ‘eco that.’ It’s also just not my thing. I got sick of all that crap when I lived in Boulder. It was just a bunch of Northern California, Audi-driving trustafarian kids, what I call ‘hippiecrites.’ Go get your seven-dollar mocha latte with the bamboo straw and think you’re saving the world.”

For a long time, the battle over the nation’s public lands has adopted acquainted political and cultural strains: on one facet, miners, loggers, ranchers; on the different, hikers, tree huggers, dances with wolves. Ford versus Subaru, gun rack versus fly rod, dam versus kayak. Despite all the griping and the apocalyptic speak, both sides often bought a few of what it needed. The wildlands and open areas are nonetheless huge; so are the clear-cuts, oil fields, and uranium pits. You might virtually faux there was sufficient nation to go round. But that delusion has change into more durable to maintain as newcomers have poured in from the coasts and cash has bought its means, and as the tales folks inform each other about reside, work, and play in these previously rugged locations have grown to mirror the nationwide discourse, and all its polarizing baloney, slightly than any severe consideration of frequent sense or the higher good.

The pandemic has accelerated the crowding and introduced on intimations of a reckoning. Bumped out of cities, jobs, ruts, and faculties, folks have taken to the street and, in lots of elements of the West, overrun campgrounds and trailheads. Van-lifers and bucket-listers flaunt their roseate pretenses on social media, luring others with their filtered, unpopulated dawn photographs of Yosemite or Zion, whereas the locals, their trout streams now bumper to bumper with drift boats, speak grimly of Rivergeddon. Many of them moved there to get away, and now the get-away is transferring in on them.

Colorado’s I-70 hall, which runs from Denver via the Front Range, previous Vail to the Colorado Plateau, might be the busiest, most domesticated stretch of the mountain West—closely contested floor. A good portion of it’s occupied by giant second properties whose house owners, once they come round in any respect, accomplish that by non-public jet. The affiliation of conservationism with wealth and privilege has created a gap for the Internet troll for whom the panorama is just not a lot a livelihood as it’s a backdrop for nihilistic tomfoolery and self-promotion. Rocky Mountain excessive: a inexperienced display screen for a goad. A disaster of ecology offers rise to a comedy of manners.

Maybe there’s room, in a land of double requirements, for some nose-thumbing. The evening earlier than I flew to Denver to satisfy Lesh, round Halloween, I flipped via the new catalogue for Stio, a small skiwear firm based mostly in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. On web page 54, there was a selection depicting two fair-haired girls with a herding canine in a snowy subject. The caption learn “Owner of In Season baking, Franny Weikert, and Ellen Stryker hang dry a batch of reusable bread wraps for a fundraiser in Teton Valley, Idaho.” I might all of the sudden see the enchantment of plowing a Trooper via a flaming tower of purchasing carts. I considered Edward Abbey, the high-country scold and authentic monkey-wrencher, who was infamous for chucking his empty beers out the window of his automotive. “Of course I litter the public highway,” he stated. “After all, it’s not the beer cans that are ugly; it’s the highway that is ugly.”

The Virtika headquarters are in the Park Hill part of Denver, east of downtown, in a warehouse that was an industrial laundry. “Two idiots bought the place and tried to turn it into a weed grow,” Lesh stated, after greeting me at the door. Bravo, a French bulldog, acquainted from his movies, attacked my shoelaces. Lesh had purchased the constructing from the idiots 5 years in the past (there are nonetheless a number of marijuana operations close by, together with one referred to as Dank; the neighborhood didn’t scent like Greeley), and now rented out two-thirds of the house, to a golf-instruction gymnasium and an auto-repair storage.

Lesh is lean and robust, with blue eyes and lengthy blond hair, typically pulled again in a ponytail. He had on black fleece pants, a heavy grey work shirt, and Birkenstocks over white gymnasium socks. He apologized for his complexion, which regarded advantageous; the day earlier than, at the urging of a girlfriend, he’d undergone a micro-needling facial process. He confirmed me a photograph of this, and in addition some photographs he’d simply posted on Instagram of him utilizing beeswax to take away his nostril hairs. Fastidious in some methods and in others not: he made clear that he had no concern of catching or spreading COVID. He doesn’t take precautions or put on a masks. Even although circumstances have been now spiking in Colorado, he stated that some medical doctors had informed him the virus was much less of a menace than the media would have us imagine.

The open warehouse house mixed a sprawling stockroom, stacked with bins of Virtika stock, and a workshop, the place he soups up his snowmobiles and sports activities automobiles. In one nook, he had constructed an condo, sparely embellished, which he makes use of as an workplace and, at times, as a bivouac. (His official residence is a one-bedroom condominium in Breckenridge, a block from the chairlifts.) Upstairs, there’s a type of man ledge, with a sixteen-foot film display screen, live performance audio system, and a massager lounge chair.


On the roof, which seems to be out towards downtown and the snowy excessive peaks past, he had a sizzling tub, deck furnishings, and an enormous chess set, the type the place the rooks are the dimension of toddlers. He introduced out a regular chessboard, and we performed a recreation. He stated he’d realized chess from Dan Bilzerian, the Instagram influencer, skilled poker participant, and former Presidential candidate. (He dropped out of the 2016 race and endorsed Donald Trump.) “He’s the one person who beats me,” Lesh stated. Usually, round these elements, Lesh continued, he needed to play with out his queen to maintain the video games honest. By the time he beat me, he had two queens.

“Don’t worry—my pet turtle Freddy is trained to get help in these situations and I’m sure he’s halfway to the castle by now.”

Cartoon by Tim Hamilton

Downstairs, at a kitchen island, Lesh informed me that there was a warrant out for his arrest. Stephen Laiche, his lawyer in Grand Junction, had strongly suggested him to delete the Maroon Lake put up. (“Taking a picture of yourself taking a dump is just gross,” Laiche recollects saying to himself. “Think that’s going to help you sell more clothes?”) Lesh didn’t need to. Laiche stop and filed a movement to be faraway from the case. At the subsequent listening to—held remotely by cellphone, owing to the pandemic—Lesh, out of confusion or intransigence, did not name in at the appointed time, and the choose issued the arrest warrant. Lesh hoped to clear all of it up with the choose the following morning, at his phone-in arraignment.

The prices at hand needed to do with two different Instagram incidents. Last April, with the Independence Pass prices nonetheless pending, and with the state’s ski hills and public lands shut down due to COVID, Lesh determined to poke the bear. He posted a few photographs of him snowmobiling off a leap in a closed terrain park at the Keystone ski space, which, like Breckenridge, is operated by the firm that owns Vail ski resort, on land belonging to the Forest Service. Lesh wrote, “Solid park sesh, no lift ticket needed. #FuckVailResorts.” This was trespassing, not simply trolling. Keystone alerted the Forest Service and the sheriff’s workplace, which launched a brand new investigation. Lesh wrote, in a brand new put up, “Those money hungry half-wits decimate wilderness around the world, build lifts, lodges, and resorts, and treat their customers and employees like shit . . . people flock by the millions and pay $200/day to ski there. I post a picture, harming no one . . . everyone loses their minds.”

Soon afterward, Lesh posted one other provocation: an image of him standing atop a mossy fallen tree trunk that bisects Hanging Lake. The lake, an hour’s hike from the street, in Glenwood Canyon, is a well-liked and far photographed Colorado landmark, identified for its aquamarine shallows and surrounding waterfalls and cliffs of mottled travertine. The Forest Service bans swimming there, and in addition fishing, canines, and drones. An indication prohibits strolling on the downed trunk, however there was Lesh on Instagram, out in the center of the lake, shirtless, in a showering swimsuit: “Testing out our new board shorts (coming soon) on the world’s most famous log.” The feedback got here in laborious and quick, just a few praising the mischief (“Legend!”) however most strafing him as an “entitled tool” and a “fuckwit” who had desecrated one in all Colorado’s most sacred websites for the objective of pitching his crappy gear.

Lesh ultimately settled the Independence Pass prices (he wound up with a five-hundred-dollar advantageous and fifty hours of group service), however not lengthy afterward the U.S. Attorney in Grand Junction introduced that the Feds have been charging him with six new misdemeanors, regarding the incidents at Keystone and Hanging Lake. Each carried a doable jail time period of as much as six months. In setting the circumstances of Lesh’s launch, a choose ordered him to stop trespassing and breaking legal guidelines on public lands, and stipulated that any additional violation would end in the forfeiture of his bond.

Lesh, at the kitchen island, started parsing his authorized troubles. “I love the outdoors,” he stated. “I don’t take extra napkins or use disposable silverware. I’m not wasteful. I’ve never destroyed anything.” He referred to his critics as “environmental terrorists or extremists.” With regard to Independence Pass, he went on, “They said I was in wilderness, I said I was not. They had zero evidence.” He added, “There’s some imaginary line drawn out there.” (The wilderness-area line, although not painted on the tundra, is just not imaginary.) He and his pal hadn’t meant to trip on grass, however they’d discovered themselves working out of snow on the means again to the street.

As for Keystone: “These multimillion-dollar ski areas like Vail desecrate the wilderness more than one snowmobile can. They chop down trees, use water and electricity to make snow, and build lodges, lifts, and parking lots. Here I am—or supposedly me—with one misdemeanor, in a terrain park, and everyone goes nuts. It’s absolutely ridiculous.”

An affiliate named Michelle Anderson, a former college-basketball participant from Missouri, arrived and started working quietly on a laptop computer. Lesh stated they’d met on Bumble and had dated for some time, and when that trailed off he’d employed her. He informed me that she was the greatest worker he’d ever had. He additionally accused her of peeing too loudly in the toilet off the kitchen. “I have a strong vagina,” she stated. It had been eight months since I’d been in an workplace. Was this how folks now spoke to at least one one other at work?

That afternoon, Lesh obtained an nameless bundle containing what was speculated to appear like dung however was most likely simply mud with somewhat straw—he threw it in the trash. He’d been getting loads of these.

“I don’t think Patagonia has to put up with this,” Anderson stated.

“The more hate I got, the more people got behind me, from all over the world,” Lesh stated. “These people couldn’t give two fucks about me walking on a log in Hanging Lake. It was an opportunity to reach a whole new group of people—while really solidifying the customer base we already had.”

Lesh came to visit to me and, standing shut, stated, “We’re going to post this video next week.” On his cellphone, he performed a brief sequence that purported to point out that the Hanging Lake and Maroon Lake photographs had been Photoshopped: the picture of himself, and of his reflection in the water, being scrubbed into inventory landscapes. If this video was actual—and who at this level might say—he hadn’t stood on the log or crapped in the lake in spite of everything. He’d hoaxed a complete state, and the Feds.

“So I’ll release this and then we’ll see how eager they are to take it to trial,” Lesh stated.

I requested if he’d informed the choose or his lawyer about the Photoshopping. He stated he’d been reluctant to inform his lawyer: “I wanted them to charge me with something. The only evidence they have is the photos I posted on Instagram, which I know are fake, because I faked them. I was pissed off about them charging me for the snowmobiling on Independence Pass with zero evidence. I realized they are quick to respond to public outcry. I wanted to bait them into charging me.”

He went on, “I want to be able to post fake things to the Internet. That’s my fucking right as an American.”

For lunch, we drove to a meals court docket downtown, the place Lesh stated he appreciated to take dates in order that he doesn’t must pay for his or her meals. “I have to drive sane, because of the warrant,” he stated, after which proceeded to surge and swerve aggressively out and in of visitors in his souped-up black BMW, which had no rear license plate. Lesh declined to disclose Virtika’s annual gross sales, although he claimed they have been up thirty per cent since he’d posted the photograph at Hanging Lake; he stated he owns the firm outright and carries little or no debt. “People generally think we’re bigger than we are,” he informed me. “I wouldn’t sell it for less than three or five million dollars.” His life is a tax deduction: his airplane, his automobiles, his snowmobiles. “Everything’s a writeoff. I pay myself next to nothing.” In the previous, he has laid himself off in the summer time, with a view to acquire unemployment. He stated he obtained an array of P.P.P. loans final spring. He manufactures the gear in China, ships it by sea, and sells largely direct to shoppers. It’s not as rigorously designed and examined (or as costly) as, say, the North Face’s, or as uselessly trendy as Moncler’s. With its garish or industrial coloration schemes, dishevelled suits, and heavy supplies, it attracts its inspiration and utility from the terrain park, and targets groms and Newschoolers greater than helipad dads or hang-dryers of reusable bread wrappers.

People typically run Lesh down as a trust-fund brat spending Daddy’s cash. In the intermountain West, such suspicion is justifiably pervasive. Lesh has by no means had a belief fund, however he does have a type of twisted inheritance. His mother and father, who’re divorced, are artists. His father, Scott, is the son and grandson of tool-and-die-factory house owners from Chicago. (His grandfather misplaced each thumbs in the machines.) Scott Lesh made sculptures out of useless animals. He scavenged roadkill and no matter carcasses he might discover and framed them in animated postures. Lesh’s mom, a cellist, additionally from Chicago, is of Norwegian heritage.

After David was born, the household moved to India, first to what’s now Mumbai after which to 2 outlying cities, Palaspe and Panvel. Lesh’s mom, with a guru and a few grants, pioneered the adaptation of Indian music for the cello. Lesh’s father scoured hills and riverbanks for animal and human stays. Both mother and father recall that David mainly didn’t cease crying for the first two years of his life. He realized to talk Hindi and Marathi, and attended a makeshift preschool with an teacher who taught in English. “I was the only white kid in the entire town,” Lesh recalled.

“We were the only white family in a thirty-mile radius,” his mom stated.

Not lengthy earlier than Lesh’s sixth birthday, the onset of the first Iraq War and a concern of retribution from the locals, a lot of whom have been Muslim, spurred the household, now with an toddler daughter, to flee India for Madison, Wisconsin. The mother and father bought educating jobs. “We were fucking broke,” Lesh stated. “Food stamps, hand-me-downs.” Lesh, blue-eyed and blond-haired, spoke English with an Indian accent. He was an outcast, a bizarre child with bizarre mother and father, and he struggled to seek out associates.

“My plan was to do really well and become a business consultant, like my mother’s brother, who was forty and fucking hot doctor chicks,” Lesh stated. “He was the first person I knew who had a cell phone. I never wanted to be a broke artist like my parents. But in middle school I stopped caring. I was a little hooligan.” He was expelled in eighth grade for calling in a bomb menace, and in highschool turned generally known as Bomb Threat Boy. The guys he skied with, at a scrappy native hill referred to as Tyrol Basin, referred to as him the Criminal. By now, he and a gang of associates have been stealing automobiles and bikes and boosting liquor from distribution warehouses. He was out and in of jail. At one level, he appeared as a plaintiff on the syndicated court-TV program “Judge Mathis,” making an attempt to get a lady who had thrown a glass bottle at his new automotive to reimburse the price of repairs. “He’s cynical,” the woman informed the choose. “He’s a little jerk.” The choose dominated in Lesh’s favor. By senior yr, he was residing in a home with associates, dealing pot, and snowboarding competitively. For a time, out on probation, he wore an ankle bracelet, which on one event he lower off with a view to enter a ski competitors out of state. He bought third place, and two weeks again in jail. Somehow, he managed to graduate from highschool, after which started vagabonding round the West, racking up minor felonies for reckless motorcycling, and halfheartedly attending group school. Eventually, he ditched faculty and focussed on snowboarding.

After Lesh graduated from highschool, his mom moved again to India. “He was impossible,” she stated, of his teen-age years. “Every day was a nightmare for me.” She now lives in Turkey.

Lesh had urged that he fly me in his airplane someplace for dinner—over the mountains to Crested Butte, maybe, or all the way down to Colorado Springs. Single engine, small cockpit, Front Range updrafts, a pilot with a penchant for foolishness: I had misgivings.

For one, there was the time when he crashed a brand new airplane into the waters off Half Moon Bay, California. He had taken to the air with a pal, with a plan to be photographed flying over the Golden Gate Bridge. Another pal trailed in a second small airplane, to get the shot. Lesh’s engine conked out, and he skipped into the Pacific, 4 miles off the coast. He filmed the entire ordeal, whereas his pal despatched out a Mayday name. They treaded water for forty-five minutes, ready for the Coast Guard to reach. Lesh’s poise underneath duress, his Virtika sweatshirt, and his historical past of attention-seeking quickly led folks to suspect that the entire factor was staged.


“How fucking dumb do you have to be to think I did that on purpose?” he informed me. “Maybe I would’ve crashed my old airplane, which I was trying to sell and was overinsured, and not my new plane, which was underinsured.”

Lesh’s first brush with infamy had come 5 years earlier than, when he launched a collection of vulgar movies, underneath the Virtika flag. The first, referred to as “Last Friday,” chronicled a supposed day in the lifetime of David Lesh. To the strains of Gucci Mane and Master P, he wakes up in mattress with two bare girls, chugs a bottle of booze, sparks a blunt, after which, sporting a grill over his enamel, flies his associates in his airplane to the mountains to skid round on icy roads, shoot out street indicators with handguns, pull stunts on skis and snowmobiles, then fly residence for a rager at an evening membership. Naughty white boys taking part in powerful: the video went viral and induced a stir. Among different issues, it bought Lesh and his associates fired from their jobs as coaches of the free-skiing group at the University of Colorado Boulder. A number of weeks later, Lesh put out a mocking non-apology video, a twist on LeBron James’s “I am not a role model” advert (which was itself impressed by Charles Barkley’s 1993 Nike spot of the identical title). One sequence depicts twin bare Leshes having intercourse with one another. In one other, he asks, “Should I tell you I’m an asshole?” after which shoots himself in the head. This wasn’t the type of stuff you often bought from outdoor-athlete-adventurer exemplars on Instagram. This wasn’t “Protect Our Winters.”

A collection of “Friday” movies ensued, every extra incendiary than the final. Some of the sequences are clearly fantastical, some not. Lesh and his associates impersonate bare homeless males asleep in a dumpster, shoot heroin, vomit on each other, pour milk on bare breasts, abandon (after which blow up) a personal jet full of girls in bikinis, chop down timber and set them afire—after which toss tanks of gas in the blaze and shoot these with machine weapons. They additionally maintain snowboarding, snowmobiling, and piling out and in of Lesh’s Beechcraft.

All this was one other argument towards signing on as his co-pilot. Sealing my determination was what I heard at his arraignment, by way of convention name, on the morning of October thirtieth—one other occasion of exhibiting what one would possibly name questionable judgment, this time in the stiff and infrequently cruel wind shear of the federal justice system. I dialled in and listened on mute.

The choose initiated the proceedings by dropping the arrest warrant, primarily on the floor that it wasn’t price placing federal marshals in danger, throughout a pandemic, for such a petty offense. The prosecutor argued that the defendant wanted a tighter leash: “David Lesh has made it abundantly clear he has little regard for court orders, whether those be orders to behave himself on public land or appear in court on time.” He stated that he’d obtained twenty-two letters expressing “appall” at Lesh’s antics. (“Only twenty-two?” Lesh stated to himself.)

By now, Lesh had informed Laiche, the lawyer who was primarily firing him as a consumer, about the Photoshopping of the Maroon Lake photograph. Laiche had nervous that bringing this up in court docket would complicate Lesh’s protection and probably open him as much as different prices. (“I like the shit out of the guy,” Laiche informed me. “We had fun. I wish the best for him.” He additionally stated that folks had been calling his workplace and making threats. “There was some crazy fucking lady from Texas: ‘Let David know we’re out to get him.’ ”)

Cartoon by Seth Fleishman

The choose stated, “It isn’t clear to the point of probable cause when the picture that supposedly purports to show Mr. Lesh pooping in Maroon Lake was taken.” The Forest Service’s forensic investigation had decided, for instance, that the lake’s water degree in the photograph was increased than it had been this fall.

The prosecutor stated, “The mere posting of the photograph shows the defendant’s intent to flout the orders of this court.”

The choose appeared to agree. He stated that he was banning Lesh from setting foot on federally owned land—“to protect the land not only from Mr. Lesh’s direct actions but also from the influence that Mr. Lesh clearly has by posting these in the messages.”

Furthermore, the choose ordered Lesh to not put up, “or cause to be posted, on any kind of social-media platform” (he named a dozen), something depicting him violating any legal guidelines anyplace on federally owned land. That’s loads of land. The ruling in impact forbade Lesh to ski and snowmobile—nearly each ski space and backcountry slope in the state of Colorado is on federal turf—and subsequently, in his view, to market his firm and make a residing. And, maybe worst of all, it prevented him from persevering with to play the function, on-line, of environmental outlaw. The choose requested if he understood the phrases.

Lesh started to talk. “Your Honor, um, yeah, the post of the defecating in Maroon Lake, um, I—”

Lesh’s soon-to-be-former legal professional spoke up: “Mr. Lesh. Your Honor, I’m advising David Lesh to refrain from talking about that. These issues can be dealt with through counsel, but, Mr. David Lesh, please don’t get into those matters right now.”

“O.K., I won’t get into the details of that image, but I do feel like—”

“Mr. Lesh! Mr. Lesh!”

“Please allow me to talk!”

“No, sir. David Lesh, please stop talking. Your Honor, would the court note my client is speaking over my advice and I’m advising David Lesh not to speak, not to say anything? His matters will be respected and addressed through counsel.”

“Your Honor, I would like to be able to talk.”

The choose stated, “Stop talking for a moment. Your attorney is giving you frankly very good advice.”

Lesh requested for a continuance, so he might discover new counsel.

“That request is denied,” the choose stated.

That evening, the evening earlier than Halloween, Lesh and a lady he was seeing, together with Anderson and one other acquaintance, a solar-power entrepreneur from the jap a part of the state, went out for sushi, indoors, at a restaurant downtown. The election was just a few days away. “I’m not going to vote,” Lesh stated. “I think both candidates are garbage. If I were voting for my personal interests, it would be Trump, but I can’t.” The others have been leaning towards Trump, although they have been entertaining the concept of casting their ballots for Kanye West, who’d just lately taken up residence in the Rockies, in Jackson Hole. They have been all sure that Trump was going to win in a landslide. Afterward, they headed off to go to a haunted home, one thing referred to as the Thirteenth Floor. Lesh had purchased me a ticket, however, cautious of COVID and weary of the firm, I begged off.

A number of weeks later, he launched the video revealing his Photoshop handiwork. It begins with an overhead shot of him in mattress, engaged on a laptop computer, surrounded by bare girls. In the feedback, his followers cheered him on for sticking it to the do-gooders and the snitches: “SAVAGE!!!!” “Absolute troll god.” On Cyber Monday, Virtika had its largest day ever of gross sales. Lesh’s new lawyer, in a bid for a modification of the choose’s phrases, filed a movement detailing the Photoshopping scheme. (“The Maroon Lake Post is inauthentic. Mr. Lesh has never been to Maroon Lake.”) The choose ultimately denied the movement. Meanwhile, on an early-season snowmobiling journey, Lesh wrecked his BMW. Then one in all his tenants burned down an R.V., additionally torching a delivery container the place Lesh had saved most of his keepsakes, private results, and instruments. Lesh posted a photograph of the rubble and wrote, “I think being raised in India by hippie, artist, musician parents helps minimize attachment to possessions.”

I talked to a lawyer in Colorado who’s accustomed to the case. He stated, “I can tell you exactly what is going to happen to David Lesh. He is going to keep up these shenanigans. He’s going to go to trial. He’s going to insist on testifying, over the advice of his attorney. It’s a petty offense, but the judge will be sufficiently annoyed by him that he will give him two years’ probation, just enough to give David the room to step on his dick. He’ll have to meet with a probation officer once a month. They’ll UA him—urinalysis. Or they’ll get him for something. And that’s how David will be the first guy I’ve ever heard of to serve Bureau of Prisons time on a petty offense.” Perhaps that, too, can be good for enterprise. ♦


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