The latest victim

Fall is a season of easy beauty. Days of gleaming perfection occur here in autumn, where the light is richly golden, the air is azure spotless, the temperatures usually agreeable and the plants all yellow, green and tan. It’s one of the great seasons, for sure. Maybe the greatest.

But in even-numbered years, autumn is unfortunately marred by The Madness. Political madness. Election madness. Citizen United madness. Sheldon Fucking Adelson madness. “The candidate with the most ads wins” madness. It’s dreary. It’s tiresome, and, for those of us who have known for quite some time that we wouldn’t vote for no stinking ReTrumplican no way no how, quite over the freakin’ top. (So why the hell isn’t Jacky up by 20 points?)

A good way to minimize the scar tissue inflicted by the Great Onslaught in even-numbered autumns is to hook up the trailer and head for the hills. On the Thursday afternoon of Sept. 26, I pulled into a campground tucked into what are possibly the finest hills in the state of Nevada—the Ruby Mountains, 30 miles south of Elko. I wandered up the road into wondrous Lamoille Canyon, a glacially carved marvel that’s without a doubt one of the prettiest places in the West. My timing was excellent. The hills were aflame with a glorious display that rivals those of Colorado, highlighted by blazing Cheeto-dust aspens. The air temperature was about 77. It was going to be an absolutely perfect happy hour in the excellent campground in the middle of this stunning place. Space 12 was waiting for me, that day’s refuge from The Madness.

It didn’t occur to me for even one nanosecond that afternoon that I was witnessing the next-to-last sunset of Lamoille’s stupendous beauty. But, I’m crestfallen to report, that’s exactly the case.

The Spring Creek shooting range is in the flats below the canyon, and on Sunday morning, Sept. 29, a fire broke out behind that range, kindled, one might reasonably assume, by a spark from a stray shot. (Authorities now agree.) Very quickly, the wind pushed the blaze straight up into the canyon, and there, a truly heartbreaking disaster took place. Nine thousand acres of superb scenic natural splendor were mercilessly roasted, charred and blackened.

So when we tally this year’s gun victims, don’t forget Lamoille Canyon. I’m sure it was innocent. I’m sure it was an accident. I’m sure there was no malicious intent. But make no mistake, Lamoille Canyon got killed by a gunshot. And that sucks on a scale that is truly beyond words.