It’s a little bit wacky up here.
August in the High Country is always hard to figure out, but it happens every year, in one way or another. People just tend to go a little bit haywire in August, this year more than most.
As a run-up to August, there was that brutal beating at a Pearsonville gas station that will probably result in an attempted murder charge, for example. Then, the same guy later is alleged to have stabbed someone up at quiet, pristine Kennedy Meadows.
Then there was the guy who celebrated the onset of August by pulling a gun on a runner while she was on her morning run near Bishop. He then led cops on a high-speed chase to Crowley Lake where the cops arrested him.
And that was just the run-up, for heaven’s sake.
There was a blatant (and unsolved) bank robbery in Mammoth mid-day on Aug. 2, two blocks away from the police station, by a man who appears (at least by bank photos) to be about as normal a looking Joe as anyone else around here.
There was a suicide by a Coleville man in broad daylight near Sonora Pass on Tuesday.
In Reno, August is the time for hot nights; in Mammoth, cool nights; and along the coast, fog, fog and fog. Crazy.
The backcountry is not exempt, either.
We are still looking for a missing climber, Matthew Greene, who seems to have disappeared into our thin air.
Forest Service wilderness rangers have long known August as the time to keep their radios tuned, their batteries charged, and to be ready to work a search and rescue at any moment.
It was in late summer not too many years ago that an out-of-towner tried to climb Carson Peak to “touch the snow” and got lost a few hundred yards from the trail.
He had to be escorted to the trail by Mono County Search and Rescue team members.
The Rainbow Fire, which almost wiped out Mammoth, happened in August 1992.
Steve Fossett, the famous pilot, made his final plans to fly to Mammoth in the last days of August 2003, and he never came back.
That kind of thing happens a lot in August.
It’s probably not over, either.
Mammoth’s Chief of Police Dan Watson says he swears the full moon (later this month) brings out the appropriately named lunatics—and he said every emergency room worker and cop will do the same.
Gosh, that’s something to look forward to, doncha think?
There are lots of other theories about August, many of them related to weather.
More than three days in a row of uncomfortable weather makes people cranky, especially heat or rain, Watson believes.
This year, though, it seems worse.
We think it’s the smoke.
We had two weeks or more of it, and one of our pals has dubbed it “our nuclear winter.”
Another pal of ours, longtime outdoorswoman Sandy Hogan, said the other day she’s been here 18 years and can’t remember anything quite like it.
The smoke, the bank heist, the lost hiker all have dominated the conversation around here for days on end, but that’s what we learn to expect out of August.
And we’re not even halfway through it.