In case you missed it, about 19,000 hippies gathered outside Trout Lake, Wash., over the July 4 weekend for the Annual Rainbow Gathering. The countercultural "intentional community" has been going on each year since 1972. This year's event took place in a remote meadow in the Gifford-Pinchot National Forest.
As The Oregonian hilariously reported, "acid trips are common" at these events. But more importantly, so is widespread environmental damage. Christy Covington, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Forest Service, said the impact to some areas of the forest was severe, but there is no estimate yet of the cost to clean up.
We checked up with Skamania County Sheriff Dave Brown on Wendesday, as the crowds were dispersing, to get his rundown of notable circumstances to law enforcement. He said the Rainbow Gathering wasn't all peace and love.
Brown said the event was marred by one incident of domestic violence and three other assaults—including one with a baseball bat. Another of those assaults took place when a woman recognized a man as a registered sex offender out of Colorado who had sexually assaulted her before.
"That resulted in some inside justice, if you will," Brown said. The sex offender received a beat-down so severe it landed him in the hospital, Brown says.
In another incident, a naked man Brown says was obviously "under the influence of something" began approaching cars on the main road to Trout Lake and ramming his own vehicle into trees. A deputy arrested the man for DUII and took him to a local hospital, Brown said.
And on the morning of July 6, a 25-year-old California woman died of an overdose from an unknown drug. KATU has the story here.
In all, the U.S. Forest Service issued about 150 citations, and Brown says the U.S. District Court in Tacoma had a full docket from arrests made at the event. Brown says it all was too much for an event billed as a peaceful gathering.
"I'm a little bit shocked at the amount of drugs and drug use for a group that doesn't profess to do that type of activity," he says. "There seemed to be a high amount of hardcore drugs. It makes me question the legitimacy of their presence at the gathering."
(Photo from the Rainbow Gathering courtesy of KATU.)