There’s not much one could easily do to become the most hated person in Colorado. But David Lesh certainly seems to be going out of his way to try and earn the title.
In April, after ski resorts closed wholesale across the state, Lesh decided to rally his fanboy troops and go trespass on Keystone Mountain for a photo shoot. The group rode snowmobiles up to Keystone’s park, and started ripping it up with their motor-sleds.
Later, Lesh posted pictures his friends took of him, launching it off the ski jumps.
Then, in June, Lesh decided he was in the hiking mood. But, instead of hiking any one of Colorado’s thousands of still-open trails, Lesh and his gang drove to Hanging Lake. Which, like the resorts, also happened to be closed due to the pandemic. Ignoring the “closed” signs, however, the troop hiked up to the lake and Lesh insisted on documenting the ordeal for all of his Instagram followers. After all, what’s the point of a hike if it doesn’t get likes?
So, Lesh stripped off his shirt, sidestepped the sign that plainly states, “No Walking on Log,” and posed himself like an Abercrombie and Fitch boy, out there, staring thoughtfully into the water.
He captioned the photo: “Moved to Colorado 15 years ago, finally made it to Hanging Lake. A first impression with no one there was worth the wait.”
Now, at this point, Lesh could have still argued ignorance. After all, he isn’t from here, maybe he didn’t understand how disrespectful he was being. Maybe he’s totally illiterate and couldn’t read the signs forbidding his entrance. Maybe he really just wanted a cute Instagram picture, and couldn’t stop himself.
Lesh was subsequently brought before a judge. The photographic evidence of his trespassing (which he himself posted) was undeniable, indisputable and suggested that Lesh had absolutley no respect for this state, the outdoors, or public land whatsoever. The judge ordered Lesh never to trespass on closed national forest lands again and to abide by all open land rules lest he be arrested.
Well, only days later, Lesh posted another photo. This time he was squatting in Maroon Bells Lake, taking a dump in the sapphire water — his face contorted in a foul grimace. The message was clear: David Lesh doesn’t give a damn about Colorado’s public lands or that judge’s orders, and he was going to shit on both of them.
Naturally, the internet and the state erupted in fury. Lesh’s Instagram photo was bombarded with hate, newspapers started writing articles condemning his actions, and at least one Change.org petition popped up, calling upon ICE and Governor Jared Polis to “DEPORT DAVID LESH!”
“The photo is deeply offensive to us at the Forest Service,” district ranger for the Aspen-Sopris Ranger District, Kevin Werner told the Aspen times. “I think it is deeply offensive to the public who treasure their national forests.”
Too put salt in the wound: Lesh isn’t even from Colorado. He was born in Chicago and grew up in Wisconsin. He’s a visitor to this state, and he’s made it very clear he has no respect for it. Not that being a native would make his actions any more forgivable — but it’s similar to the difference between taking a crap on your own carpet, or going over to your neighbor’s place to crap on theirs. It’s unnecessary, it’s gross, and it seems like a desperate cry for attention.
Which is really what all this is.
I reached out to Lesh, after he posted his Maroon Bells photo, to see if he’d be interested in telling his side of the story. He responded, “I could be down, but in a few weeks. I’ve got a few tricks up my sleeve still.”
Suggesting that Lesh’s “fuck Colorado” antics weren’t yet finished.
However, they were. A few days later, Judge Gallagher, reviewing Lesh’s case and his actions, dropped the hammer of justice, banning Lesh from entering any National Forest lands in Colorado for the foreseeable future.
“I find it appropriate to change [Lesh’s bond conditions] … to protect the land, not only from Mr. Lesh’s direct actions, but also from the influence Mr. Lesh clearly has,” U.S. Magistrate Gordon Gallagher said. He said the ruling was meant to “to ensure the safety of the community.”
That decision will effectively kill David Lesh’s pro-skiing career. He won’t be able to access most of Colorado’s ski resorts, which are almost all on National Forests.
Se la vie.
When I reached out to Lesh again, after Judge Gallagher’s decision came out, he responded, “I don’t want to do any interviews.”
That’s probably wise, bud.