Colorado Man Photoshopped Images of Himself Defecating in Iconic Lake to ‘Bait Them into Charging Me’

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Maroon Bells, Aspen Wage
The famed Maroon Bells near Aspen, CO. Photo Credit: Photo by Mike Scheid on Unsplash

Former pro-skier David Lesh was in court yesterday, facing petty offenses over his alleged abuse of public land, where he pleaded ‘not guilty’ and requested that his case be heard by a jury.

Lesh, called ‘the most hated man in the Rockies’ in a recent New Yorker article, is facing six charges relating to trespassing incidents in Glenwood Canyon’s Hanging Lake and snowmobiling in a closed Keystone Ski Resort. He is also currently banned from all national forest land for an image he posted of himself defecating in the iconic Maroon Lake near Aspen, CO. His attorney claims the image is a fabrication, and an image of Lesh defecating was photoshopped onto a stock image of the Maroon Bells backdrop for Instagram. As such, he should not have been banned from forest service land.

US Magistrate Gordon Gallagher denied Lesh his request, adding he isn’t entitled to a jury trial for petty offenses, reports Vail DailyNo trial date has yet been set, as the prosecutor would like to further investigate points raised by the aforementioned New Yorker article.

“It raises a number of new issues that I think require additional investigation. I’m not prepared to schedule a trial at this point.”

– Assistant U.S. Attorney Peter Hautzinger

In the New Yorker article, Lesh claims he has a video ready to release demonstrating how he Photoshopped the infamous ‘defecating in Maroon Lake’ image, and also the image of him trespassing at Hanging Lake. He claims both images were in response to his charge for snowmobiling on Independence Pass in 2019, for which he claims there was ‘no evidence’. He used the alleged Photoshopped images to ‘bait them into charging him.’

“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.”

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

– David Lesh tells the New Yorker

Whether the image was real or not, the judge said just by posting it:

“…is clear evidence of the defendant’s contempt of the Court and the judicial system. It is evidence that he believes he can do whatever he wants to wherever he wants to, without regard for what the Court has ordered.”

In April 2020, Lesh posted images on Instagram of him riding a snowmobile in a terrain park at Keystone Resort. The resort had been closed to the public since March 15th when the Colorado Governor ordered all ski areas closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The incident was one count of the allegations.


View this post on Instagram


Moved to Colorado 15 years ago, finally made it to Hanging Lake. A first impression with no one there was worth the wait.⁣

A post shared by David Lesh (@davidlesh) on

A further five counts were tied to Lesh’s alleged entry of Hanging Lake in Glenwood Canyon on June 10, an incident again documented on Instagram.

The Hanging Lake charges included:

  • Entering an area closed for the protection of threatened, endangered, rare, unique, or vanishing plants, animals, or fish when entering the Hanging Lake National Natural Landmark Area
  • Entering an area closed for the protection of special biological communities
  • Entering an area closed for the protection of property
  • Entering an area closed for the protection of historical, archeological, geological, or paleontological interest
  • Entering a prohibited body of water
  • Each charge holds a potential penalty of not more than six months imprisonment, not more than a $5,000 fine, or both, according to the filed document. The U.S Attorney’s Office indicated it would not seek imprisonment.

Each charge holds a potential penalty of not more than six months imprisonment, not more than a $5,000 fine, or both, according to the filed document.

In June 2020, Lesh was fined $500 and ordered to perform 50 hours of public service this summer to illegally ride his snowmobile near the summit of a snowless Independence Pass near Aspen, CO in summer 2019.

Lesh is no stranger to ‘bad publicity,’ often engaging in stunts that garner public attention. In August 2019, he crash-landed his plane into Half Moon Bay off the California Coast, live streaming the plane sinking and the whole rescue operation.

In July 2014, Lesh was arrested and charged with arson following a fire at the Virtika warehouse in Boulder, caused during a promotional video filming.

David Lesh
David Lesh

Lesh, a Denver, CO resident, posted pictures on Instagram in April of himself snowmobiling in a terrain park at Keystone, with the caption “solid park sesh, no lift ticket needed.”

David lesh, plane crash, California , virtika
Lesh’s plane sinking to the depths following last year’s stunt.

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