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The Fire Must Keep Going
..and it went on.
Over the summer, I'd had a bit more than my average amount of psychedelics; I usually trip once a month from May-August or so, then perhaps once in the winter, spring, and late fall. I'd been taking (relatively small) doses of psychedelics roughly once a week, and I was loving it. Not a single trip had gone awry on that summer. Wonderful time. I experienced mainly high level one, low level two trips over this time, the most pronounced and epic visual from psilocybin having come from the utter conviction that everything I could see was illustrated a la the "Where the Wild Things Are" book. That trip, however, is not the focus of this report, and pales in comparison to the hugeness of the trip I'm going to tell you about.
6:00PM - We Arrive at the Campsite
I had decided to go camping at our "secret site" in the next state over, just outside of a National Park. There were to be four in our party, but one of the four got called into work and said he'd meet up with us later. At around 6:00PM, R, his wife C, and I arrived at the site and set up the tent. Because it was such a long hike (roughly 40 minutes from the road) we opted not to start the fire yet - because it would definitely be out by the time we got back from meeting up with N, who we weren't even sure would be able to find the site on his own. R had with him close to a half oz. of nice quality shrooms, from the same batch that had me giddy on about a gram and a half a week or so previous. As I'd just gotten a huge bonus, I was stoked for the eighth that was to be mine.
Once the tent was erected, the chairs were out, and our site was ready, we smoked a bowl and cracked open a few brews. I commented that it was weird that N hadn't called in a bit, then we all realized that we had no cell reception at our campsite. Bummer. We knew, however, that he'd not be getting off of work until 7:30, so we had time to hike back to the main road and get signal. As we grabbed our bags to hike back out, R stopped me and asked if I wanted to go ahead and eat half an eighth. I couldn't see why not, so I did. This was around 6:45.
6:45PM - I've Eaten Half an Eighth, and Now We're Hiking
I chewed and swallowed, figuring that way they wouldn't even hit me until we met up with N. We made our way through the trees, over the creek, and onto the overgrown trail on our way back into civilization. Once we hit the trail, R handed me a Vitamin C pill. I was sure this was going to be a good night. We continued our trek overly slightly rough terrain, stopping only when C's shoe and pant leg became lodged in brambles. I wasn't feeling it yet, just feeling the stone from the bowl we'd smoked, but I was already euphoric. Likely just anticipation. We finally came out on the main road.
7:45PM - Fuck, We Still Don't Have Signal!
Having hitched a ride with another friend who wouldn't be camping with us, we had no car, and no cell phone signal. We begrudgingly began walking even more towards civilization, trying to find the point where we would re-gain signal. It was starting to get dark, and I was starting to feel the tell tale signs of the trip coming on. I had very minor discomfort in my stomach, and in spite of the sun beginning to set, was also aware that things looked much brighter. R had also eaten half of his eighth, and C, who isn't big on psychedelics (really bad trip traumatized her) hadn't eaten any. I asked him if he was feeling it too, and he grinned at me and asked me to check his pupils. They were already dilated. He informed me that mine were, too.
By 8PM, we were still walking and the sun was mostly gone when my phone went crazy informing me of all the text messages and calls I'd missed; we finally had service!
8:00PM to 9:00PM - Oh, Shit, Coyotes! And N gets Lost
The backlight on my phone when I tried to read my text messages was already messing with me, so I finally handed my phone over to C so she could call N back and give him directions. N answered on the first ring and said he'd be with us in about 15-20 minutes, that he was already on his way. We told him which road we were on, and stopped walking to sit on the guard rail and wait.
As we sat on the guard rail, I was really enjoying my high kicking in. It was a pleasant experience, and everything was beginning to take on a dreamy texture. I was on cloud nine, and couldn't wait for more. My thoughts were a little disjointed, but they seemed to lazily drift from unrelated topic to unrelated topic, rather than jump around wildly. It was mellow and happy. I was euphoric. Until I heard the coyotes.
Coyotes around here aren't exactly something you want to come across - they lack a certain fear of people that tends to make them aggressive, asserting their dominance over any unsuspecting human who comes across them. There hadn't been much said about coyotes in this particular park, but I know the sound of coyotes when I hear it. R heard them, too.
We listened intently as they howled and moved around in the woods near the guard rail. I was vaguely frightened, and everything started looking less dreamy and more...stark, I guess, is the best way to describe it. The sun was pretty much gone now, and in spite of my increased sensitivity to light, I decided it was a good time to bust out the flashlight.
The texture of everything was intense. The blacktop of the road seemed to pulse, and everything contrasted quite intensely. I wasn't horribly afraid of the coyotes the moment I had the flashlight on, and used it to explore the various things around me. A tree on the opposite side of the road caught my attention, the leaves roughly in the shape of a koala bear where the beam of my flashlight illuminated it, and I began giggling. I tried to express that the tree looked like a koala bear, but R and C seemed confused. Eventually I gave up, and just zoned out, staring at the tree. I started playing a game where I would shine the light elsewhere, then jerk it back to the tree, giggling everytime but not talking.
After a little while of this, N called my phone saying he'd passed the road and ended up in some city he knew was past us, and was turning around. He'd seemingly missed the turn-off. I was convinced for some odd reason that he'd crossed into Canada - which is especially strange considering it would take at least six hours to drive to Canada from there. Time seemed kind of funny already. When C set me straight about the time issue, my mind was blown.
Finally, at around nine, N pulled up and we got into his car. He said we needed to buy more smokes and beer, and I was down, as were R and C.
9:00PM - Counting Money Is Hard
R and C had left their IDs back at the campsite in the tent, and N couldn't find his, so I had to buy the beer and cigarettes in the store. Once inside, it was too bright to even be able to stand it, so I was squinting and, I'm sure, noticeably impaired. I grabbed a case of PBR and asked for the packs of cigarettes, and the lady told me the total. I reached into my billfold and pulled out my money, but I couldn't quite figure out money. It's not that I was incapable of adding - it's just that money seemed like the most ridiculous concept in the world to me. Also, the surface of the money seemed to be thrumming with energy - I was thinking that if I tried hard enough, I could see each individual atom on the surface of the bills, and that thrilled me.
The woman was looking at me, waiting for me to pay, but I'd forgot the total so I handed her four bills. She immediately gave two back, then gave me change. The concept of change was also thrilling to me. N and C saw that I was standing there staring at money and ushered me out of the store.
9:45PM - We Make It Back To the Campsite, and I Eat the Rest of My Shrooms
I was feeling great. Everything seemed beautiful, friendly, fun, foreign...and the music on the iPod and portable speakers had so many layers. I could feel in between each layer, the space and placement, and the notes that weren't played because we couldn't even comprehend how beautiful they'd be - but I could at that moment.
As we started to build our fire, I ate the rest of my shrooms. These, I held in my mouth for a few minutes before swallowing. I figured I was starting to peak on the first bit I'd eaten, and wanted to intensify and prolong the peak. I took a nice hearty swig of beer to wash them down.
The other three in my party aren't exceptionally good at building fire, so I ultimately had to take over with the fire building. I finally got it blazing, and the colors inside of the fire were intense and beautiful and terrifying all at once. I stared into the fire as R took the rest of his shrooms and N ate an entire eighth in one go, and I knew that it was the most beautiful thing on the earth. C finally gave in and ate some shrooms, but I don't know how much.
There were unspeakably gorgeous tracers around the flames, the smoke was making shapes of people I'd known but lost touch with as I zoned out gazing at its magnificence. I told the others that fire knew everything, held the secrets to everything, if we just took the time to look and listen. R agreed and began staring into the fire as well. N commented that he was beginning to feel the come-up. It was a beautiful night.
10:30PM - We Drink, and I Begin To Lose Touch
We continued drinking, talking kept to a minimum. We were all unified, but we were very introspective. The fire crackled, and I'd ceased to see anything beyond the fire itself. It seemed like it was the only thing in the world. To my left, N coughed, making me jump: I'd totally forgotten there was more to the world than fire. R looked up, and said he needed to play guitar. He went to the tent and grabbed his case, pulling out the instrument. I stoked the flames to make sure that the fire kept going - it was the perfect night, and I knew it would stay perfect as long as the fire kept going.
I'm not entirely sure when the thought entered my mind that I had to keep the fire going, but once there, it wouldn't stop. It wasn't a terrified desperation which caused this to happen - it was more of a spiritual truth, my destiny. I'm also not entirely sure when I lost sense of myself entirely and became one with the fire, but that happened also.
11:00PM - ??? - Time Gets Funny, I Lose Myself, and I Find the Truth
I found that I couldn't tell the difference between my eyes being opened and my eyes being closed. One way, I was seeing what I perceived as the soul of a friend of mine who passed away a few years back in the fire, in the other, I was the fire. I could hear music, and the crackling of wood in the flames, but I felt that I was orchestrating the music. Everything was patterned and wavy, and suddenly I vaguely felt everything move back in a weird, fluid, detached way that I can't properly describe, and I was seeing the trees and sky between the branches. From far away, I could hear someone asking if I was okay, and that confused me, because I'd forgotten about mankind's existence until that moment.
I moved my head, when I could figure out how to do that, and saw N and C looking over at me, concerned. R was tranced out, playing the same note over and over on guitar with intense concentration. I managed to sit up, and took another swig of my beer when I saw it to my side.
Back in the real world for the time being, I realized that I really had to pee. I made my way very unsteadily out of the campsite and into the woods surrounding it, and began to pee. Once I'd finished, I could hear the creek rushing just outside of the clearing, and instead of going back to camp, I made my way down to the creek. It completely blew my mind. I wondered if all of the water in that creek was billions of years old, and then I began to cry when I thought about stepping in the creek earlier: I had taken water that had been with other water for billions of years, and separated it. If water knew family, which, at the time I was sure that it did, I had broken up the family. I thought about all the times I'd broken up families and wondered how I could ever go to heaven, if there was such a thing, being such a horrible creature.
Back at the campsite, R had put away his guitar and turned the iPod back on. I could hear the music from the creek, and the theme from the television series Twin Peaks began playing. I thought about how much I loved the characters on the show, and thought about what happened to Dale when he was trapped in the Black Lodge at the end of the series. As I thought about this, another wave of the trip hit me, and I lost connection once again with where I was. The body buzz was so intense that I thought my teeth were chattering along with it as it came on, but within a few seconds, I was gone again.
I heard someone calling my name, which, unfortunately, is the name of a character in Twin Peaks. I knew I needed to get back to the campsite because people were worried, and was trying to get back to reality for that. I could, however, not get back into the "real" reality, and became convinced that I was in Washington, a person who resided in Twin Peaks, and we were looking for Special Agent Dale Cooper.
"It's the wrong Dale!" I screamed hysterically, surprised at how my voice sounded, and began screaming it over and over. C got to me, and told me I needed to come back into camp, but I didn't recognize her. I asked her why she was in town, because she wasn't from around here. She tried to get me back to camp again, and I kept saying I didn't know her, and she was probably a spirit of the lodge, sent to take me to BOB. Finally, she realized what I was carrying on about and claimed to be a character on the show's cousin who came in because she was worried, and I accepted this.
Within thirty seconds of arriving at the campsite, I was panicked. I didn't know any of these people. I thought maybe I'd seen them on a TV show, and was convinced that I was in Twin Peaks, tripping my balls off in the woods with people I knew from Twin Peaks, and had become convinced that they were characters from a TV series. Needless to say, I got it a little backwards, but I was losing my shit.
"I'm sorry that I'm tripping, but we need to get Sheriff Truman and get Dale out of the Lodge!" I screamed at them, and they grabbed flashlights so we could go "look for the Lodge". When we couldn't find the proper clearing, they got me back into the campsite...when I realized that the campsite looked a lot like the entrance to the Black Lodge from Twin Peaks. I backed out of the clearing telling them I wasn't going back to the lodge, that I couldn't handle the red room...I also attributed my confusion about time to the fact that time doesn't pass in the Lodge on the show.
Someone told me the fire was dying, and I looked and saw that it was. I immediately stopped caring about the lodge, focusing all of my attention instead on tending the fire once again. It was going to need kindling, and I didn't have any left - so I reached in my pack and pulled out my notebook, filled with writings of the past four years. I threw the whole thing into the fire, crying and telling everyone that the new life was starting and the old one was ending. I didn't think they really caught the magnitude of what was going on, but I finally got the fire going again.
5:15AM - I Kept the Fire Going
I kept wanting desperately to go to sleep from around 3:00AM on, but I had to keep the fire going all night. By 4:30AM, R, C, and N were all in the tent asleep, and I was alone, coming down, and keeping the fire going.
At 5:15AM, N, who can never sleep more than an hour after taking psychedelics, came out of the tent and walked over to me. "I kept the fire going all night," I informed him, simply, and he nodded, lit up a cigarette and offered me one, the last in his pack.
Within half an hour, C emerged groggily from the tent. She asked if anyone had a cigarette. I looked into my pack to realize I had only one left, and no recollection of having smoked at all the night before. There was a telltale ring of cigarette butts surrounding my place in front of the fire, however.
N, C, and I opted to split the cigarette. We sat on overturned logs, passed the cigarette back and forth, and watched the sun rise.
"That was a fucking adventure," said N, and C and I both smiled. I had kept the fire going all night, and everything was okay.
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