Citation: DayTripper. "The Enjoyable Lightness of Being: An Experience with Mushrooms (exp80588)". Erowid.org. Jan 2, 2010. erowid.org/exp/80588
During a cross-country trip out west to New Mexico, a friend and I decided to venture out into Cibola National Forest and enhance the experience with a solid dose of psilocybin. Cibola Forest is on the side of a massive mountain in the middle of the New Mexican high desert and because of some quirk of geography/geology, it is a beautiful lush forest instead of the surrounding barren desert.
We parked around noon in one of a series of randomly placed empty parking lots and starting slowly dosing as we walked along the approach trail. There weren't many people around and I was trying for the first time what my friend G termed the 'Escalator Method.' It involved taking a mushroom or two every 5 or ten minutes (washing the taste down with some juice) and then seeing how we felt. Once we starting feeling it come on we stopped. It was hard to tell how much we took using this method but I'd ballpark it around 2.5 grams.
This was my 5th or 6th time with mushrooms and I'm usually very careful measuring doses and brewing mushroom tea. But this method felt much more natural as we were walking through the woods and slowly opening up our minds. Because of the dosing method, the come-up was much more gradual and comfortable. Instead of suddenly realizing that I was tripping, I could feel it slowly affect my nerves, my skin, my vision and my head-space. The 'Escalator' analogy is very apt as I felt like I was easing my way upward into the experience. This method also had a favorable effect on the peak for me.
As we reached the opening of the main trail, I noticed for the first time that the ground was a deep, earthy, orange-red. The soil had been this color the entire time we were walking along the approach trail, but I hadn't really noticed it until the we starting coming up. It wasn't exactly like being on Mars because of the dense vegetation, but it did have the quality of suddenly feeling like I was on another planet. The vegetation all appeared novel and different, even the shrubs and stray rocks seemed original and impressive. This was partly the actual scenery and partly the beginning of the trip. The wind was very still and calm but when it did blow, it felt it acutely on my skin. I suddenly became aware of how quiet the forest was. G and I had been saying very little, just focusing on the enjoyably feeling of coming up. In my past tripping experiences I generally am pretty quiet early on. For me, most of the early experience of the trip is an enhanced appreciation for nature and a kind of child-like wonder at the world. The cerebral qualities generally take place for me further on into the trip and this instance was no difference.
As sometimes happens to me, we were getting a bit of a sleepy feeling and sat down in a clearing on the side of the trail. G and I marveled at the unique orange coloration and patterns on what I'd call 'Orange-Wood' trees which had the appearence of Red Woods but smaller and with an Orange Hint. They appeared very dream-like. As we sat there drinking water, a group of hikers walked past and told us they had spotted a 300 pound bear further back on the path. I think we expressed some sort of wonderment but I can't recall exactly the exchange, and the hikers soon moved on. At this point it had been about an hour after we had stopped dosing and I was enjoying myself immensely. As we got up and proceeded down the trail, I thought about how I had just driven across the country, camping and meeting new people along the way, and here I was, enjoying a psychedelic experience with one of my oldest friends in a gorgeous, impossible forest in the middle of the desert. The weather was perfect: Warm, Sunny and Dry. A calm euphoria engulfed me.
At about this point we came out upon the first beautiful vista of the day. It was a view that consisted of the entire city below to the left, of the endless forested mountain to the right, and of a field of recurring clouds in uniform pattern stretching off as far as the eye could see. I was instantly cemented to the spot and stared at it for what felt like hours. While staring out into the view, G and I started talking about living in cities. G had just moved to a new one and we discussed the unnatural stress it places on you but most importantly, how it was easy to not notice that stress. As we had walked into the forest we both noticed a feeling of leaving the city, like walking out of a massive din of traffic and pollution and bad vibes and walking through a doorway into the peace, and for lack of a better word, naturalness of the forest. I seem to recall G saying a number of times, 'This is what I need more of.' or something to that effect.
We pinpointed the moment when we'd just felt like we escaped the city and we turned around and looked back at it and exclaimed, 'What the hell was that all about?' This seemed like an appropriate time to yell down into the city from up above in the forest. Just then we spotted up to the right a massive stone outcropping that looked like a Native American face. I felt a strong pull from that spot and G expressed his belief that we could get up there by following the trail further. The standard mushroom epic feeling of space and experience was upon me and I expressed my disbelief that there was any way us two little humans all the way down here could ever get up to that massive structure way up there. But he convinced me of the possibility and off we went.
As we progressed down the trail we were about two hours in and my senses for touch, hearing and vision were very enhanced and in tune. As we walked, the landscape seemed to change into even more dense vegetation and more greenery than the usual darker toned trees and shrubs. Suddenly we noticed the sound of insects chattering away in the trees above us. It seemed to move with us as we moved on down the trail, with new insects we hadn't heard in front of us starting up while the insects we left behind quieting down as we left their presence. The chattering sounded very rhythmic and soon G began to make vocal and throats sounds to the beat of our overhead watchers. Soon I joined in playing percussion and on G's backpack as I walked behind him and adding short vocal sounds of my own. Soon an impromptu forest jam session was in progress as we moved on down the trail and new members of the insect music community joined the jam. Just jamming with friends sober can be an intense and enveloping experience, but doing it with nature while approaching this peak of a mushroom trip was on an entirely new plain.
The trail became rockier and steeper as we seemed to be heading up to where the Rock Formation would be. And as the trail rose, the Escalator headed up another notch and as we approached the peak, we came out upon a vista that, by a wide margin, was the most beautiful scene I had ever laid eyes on. Describing this scene is probably far beyond my linguistic abilities but I'll do my best. The view offered 5 distinct regions to gawk at, each more stunning the last. The first one I gazed upon as we emerged from the trail was the desert mountains rising and falling for what looked like a thousand miles until the farthest mountains were translucent and merged with the massive sky.
The second was the view below us. It seemed like we were on top of the Native American Face. It was hard to tell but there was some sort of outcropping below us. It's probable that it only looked like a face from certain angles. But thinking that we were on top of that mystical rock formation added to the view below which included long stretches of dark red and green coniferous trees. It looked like the great forests of northern Canada. And very large birds were perched in a few of their tops. Our vantage point put as roughly right at the top of the majority of these giant trees and look almost as if you could walk right out onto the tops of them right down into the valley where the city lay.
The third view was the city, but far larger and more expansive then before. It stretched and stretched and then, very suddenly, for no apparent reason, just stopped. No sparseness, no geographic stopping point. It just stopped. I had noticed this feature of other desert cities but right now this struck as very fascinating and I pondered it for some time. It is very easy to think very hard about something you normally wouldn't and this is one element of mushrooms that I enjoy whole-heartedly.
The fourth view was the snow capped Rockies to the North. There is really no way I can describe them that hasn't already been done so I won't even try.
The fifth view, my favorite, was the sky. It was unlike any sky I had ever seen. The sky had been gradually getting larger and larger as we had traveled West, but out here in the Desert it was massive. The psilocybin certainly wasn't hurting that feeling. And in the sky, the massive birds, possibly hawks or eagles, were floating majestically back and forth, hundreds of feet above us, soaring in and out of clouds from a Dali painting. The clouds were the most amazing I had ever seen. If Kandinsky had painted clouds, that's what these were.
I stood there like a child in an eye candy store, flitting my glance back and forth, back and forth. It was like looking into the most moving painting I had ever seen, and if I had any visual arts talents, I'd probably spend the rest of my life trying to paint that scene. At this point, the escalator was hitting its peak and our energy level was doing quite well. G was excited to see what other amazing things we'd come upon, and although I could have sat there for years, staring out at that impossible scene, I also was curious what else this place had in store for us.
We went further down the trail and G mentioned that he'd never been this far into the this forest before and from here on out, this was all new to him. This feeling of the unknown offered an edge to this part of the experience that was both invigorating and slightly frightening. The tree canopy overhead now became much thicker as we traveled on and it became darker. We were only getting small slices of sky and the sun moved a bit behind the clouds. I was tripping very hard at this point and thoughts in my head were racing extremely quickly. My thought trains were on the express track.
G mentioned that he had no idea what time it was and wondered if it was starting to get dark. As we both knew that time distortion was a common effect of mushrooms, this seemed quite possible even though it felt only like it had been 3-4 hours and judging by us being in the peak, it should be max 4-5 hours in. As we entered the forest at noon, it seemed unlikely to be getting dark. Those were my logical thoughts. But small amounts of paranoia began to creep in. What if it was getting dark. G may or may not have said something about getting back and bears and my mind raced off into all sorts of worst case scenarios. The forest was getting a bit gnarled and almost nightmarish and I began to get very tired.
Next something happened to me that had never happened before on mushrooms. G said something to me but the beginning and end of what he said was distorted in a way that seemed like somebody had hit the fastforward button on an old tape deck. I began to get relatively frightened and tired and I desperately wanted to lay down. But G, sensing my befuddlement with the situation, came over and suggested getting back to the beautiful lookout point. Yes, I thought! If we could just get back there everything would be OK. I was sure of it.
So I looked around, trying to figure out where the vista was. I really wasn't sure. It is easy to get disoriented when you're tripping and I was in a location I was not familiar with, and being in the peak of a pretty hard trip for me made it quite difficult. Luckily there were only 2 ways to go as we were still on the trail and G and I agreed on a direction and off we went. The paranoid thoughts were still racing through my mind, but now that I had the hope of getting back to that lookout point, I was focused and excited. The walking seemed almost like a trudge as I felt very tired and disoriented in the darker forest and the feeling that we were going the wrong way stayed with me. But after a few minutes, we came out of the canopy onto the very same gorgeous spot as before, bright and sunny, and the paranoid thoughts instantly dispersed.
I collapsed down onto a rock, took out my water bottle, drank, and breathed a huge sigh of relief and sat there marveling, once again, at the view. G took out an orange at this point and started eating it. He offered it to me, but I rarely feel like eating during a trip, especially near the peak. As we sat there 2 bikers came by. They were older, maybe in their fifties and looked like a married hardcore mountain biking couple. This was confirmed as they stopped at the spot and said hello to us and asked us what we thought of the view. I mumbled something about it being the most amazing thing I had ever seen. I assumed they would take it as hyperbole but they weren't phased. 'Yup,' he said matter of factly. 'I took my wife here on our first date.' And with that, they left us and I just looked at G and smiled.
The peak had calmed a bit now and my mind started going in a very pleasant way. I began thinking about all manner of things. But when I tried to comprehend exactly what it was I was looking at, all I could do was stand up and shout at the forest 'WHAT IS GOING ON!' I implored it over and over again but the only movement was the birds slowly floating through the clouds. I sat back down and mulled many things, laughing over and over again. G kept asking me what was so funny but I really couldn't explain it then and I can't explain it now. But I do remember one thing I pondered.
I began to think about the feeling of lightness that had come over me today. One of the feelings that frightens people is how unimportant they feel. Because they are so small and insignificant, they can feel alone and frightened. I'd often had this feeling. I suppose this is the 'Unbearable Lightness of Being.' But, a change had come over me this trip. It was a changing that had been slowly building the entire road trip but was coming to a head at this point int time. I realized that being light didn't have to be a burden. Instead it was incredibly freeing. The anxiety I felt over many of the choices in life I had to make and had made was unfounded. Being insignificant allows me to enjoy things and not take myself so seriously because I'm not that important! This is most likely the thought that kept crossing my mind that caused me to burst out laughing. Haha, I'm not that important!
A common experience for me is that because of my sped up thought processes and ability to really mull things over, I often have epiphanies such as this one. This for me is what the spiritual journey of mushrooms is all about. That and feeling closer to nature. Self-Discovery. After sitting there and loving every minute of it for at least another hour, the trip began to come down a bit, and we decided to leave. But G decided that he wanted to leave a mark and he got out his magic marker and penned a little drawing on a stone. As we left we pondered the reactions of people as they came across it. He guessed those reactions would span the spectrum from amazed to outraged. I concurred.
As we were feeling much more oriented, we decided to take a different path back and the one we chose was packed with butterflies. I had never seen so many butterflies before and as we walked through, we realized that the trip was still going stronger than we had thought. We decided to take it slow going back and enjoy this coming down period. My mind had started to slow down but the appreciation for nature was still going strong and we marveled at the butterflies and their reactions to us. Farther down the trail we came to a gigantic man-made tepee. It was beautiful unto itself but in the stripped logs used to make it were little carvings of various form. I examined them and thought about the come down.
The come down for this trip was much much smoother than I was used to and I attribute this to the escalator method. Often it can be a bit unpleasant and I can sometimes have a hard time getting my mind to calm down. But this time, it was very smooth and comfortable. We came out upon some picnic tables and realized we were starving and took out the meal we had brought with us, woven wheat crackers and sweet mango salsa. After hiking and not eating for many hours, we attacked the meal and finished the entire box in short order. After this we got the overwhelming urge to find out what time it was. It seemed to have gotten darker but we were still feeling uncertain from being fooled earlier and I walked to the car to check my watch. I never bring my phone or my watch with me when tripping because I love the feeling of timelessness. It did cause me some paranoia this time but that was more from being in an unknown place. It was approaching 8PM and the trip was basically done.
We waited a little while longer until the sun began to set and then we drove back into the city just as the sun was setting and the lights of the city were coming on. We each had a very pleasant after glow and even the pollution and the noise of the city couldn't spoil a very enjoyable driving experience.
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