This is about a shroom trip I took while walking across northern England in the spring of 1999.
I had spent the past five weeks backpacking around Europe by myself making my way up north from Rome. There is much to say about all of the places I'd seen but those are different stories. Eventually I met up with a friend of mine in Amsterdam where we spent a few days togeather having a grand ol' time smoking hash and purple haze and getting lost in the maze of canals, coffeshops, and shwarma venders. I was looking forward to the journey ahead, the main purpose of my trip to Europe. I had been planning a coast-to-coast walk across England for more than a year (about a 200 mile hike from the village of St Bee's on the Irish Sea to Robinhood's Bay on the North Sea). It would take me across the mountain peaks of the Lake District, the dessolation of the North York Moors, and the wooded hills of the Yorkshire Dales, passing through many villages and farms. I was going solo.
So I decided to buy several good doses of cubensis from a shop in Amsterdam to take with me over to England. I was alittle bit nervous about transporting the stuff over the border but I reasoned that the three little packets of powdered mushrooms would be easy to hide and that it just wouldn't be worth it for them to train dogs to sniff out shrooms when there are plenty more serious other drugs being smuggled in much much greater quantities over their borders. So anyway, that's where I got my shrooms from.
Now I'll skip ahead to the day of my trip. I had already walked four days from the coast into the mountains, about 50 miles or so. This day was to be the last section of mountains, a 16 mile trek from the quaint village of Patterdale to the small town of Shap on the edge of the moors. In the morning as I set out on my way it was overcast and beginning to drizzel so I put on my rain gear and began my ascent out of the valley and up to the high mountain ridge that I was to follow up in the clouds. This was the first rain I'd run into so far on my walk but I didn't let it bother me. It was to be expected in England. So far, I hadn't shroomed yet. I wasn't even sure if I would on this day. So I hiked on up into the clouds past soggy sheep. Every once in a while the clouds would suddenly open up just enough to expose the patchwork of the fertile valley far below my path. And then, just as quickly, I would again be enveloped in mist and blowing rain. Eventually I made it to the last high peak along the ridge. The rain had let up but the wind was blowing so hard that I leaned into it at almost a 45 degree angle with my arms out. I thought about taking the mushrooms at that point, but I decided to wait until I came down from the ridge to where it might be safer and pehaps the weather nicer. As I descended out of the clouds I could see the second 8 miles that lay ahead. The dark stomy clouds seemed to be stuck mostly on the mountain peaks and the path ahead was sunny and dry.
I scrambled down the steep grassy mountainside to the head of the long curved lake that I was to follow out of the foothills. It was time. I dug into my backpack and fished out a packet of shrooms. I swigged it all down with some Sunny Delight diluted in water and proceeded to follow the path along the steep shoreline. This was my first time using shrooms while doing such vigorous excercise. I was unsure if it would help or hinder my ability to navigate or what it would do to my energy levels. It didn't take long for me to begin feeling the initial onset. A faint tingling like static electricity.
Up ahead I saw a couple of men coming up the path towards me. When we met they asked about the conditions up on the mountain and where I was heading. After a brief friendly conversation we parted ways. Talking with strangers when I'm tripping usually makes me very uncomfortable, but this broke me in and relaxed me to the issue. I decided to sit down for a short rest on a rock beside the path to enjoy the view and to let the shrooms come to life. The clouds above me were breaking off into cottony balls as they drifted away from the stormy peaks where I had come. Across the lake were hills covered in beautiful swaying trees. I watched the wind on the water. The patterns of the ripples defined the shape of the wind and I was able to see its mass folding and undulating as it rolled across the lake. I began to feel a bit dizzy so I decided to resume walking in hopes that I might be able to shake it off. As I walked I realized that I was really starting to trip hard and my walking was feeling a bit impared. Perhaps shrooming while trying to navigate 8 more miles was not a great idea after all. I was feeling quite goofy and my perma-grin was in full swing. As I walked on, the dizzyness began to subside and walking became easier.
Finally, I reached a point where the path became broader and smoother, and the sun had scattered the clouds with its warm rays of irridecent color. So I decided it was now safe to take off all of my rain gear and stow it away. Man, what a difference! I felt so free and energized it was amazing. I felt more intouch with every moment I was in than ever. Further down the path I decided to stop and just enjoy where I was for a while. I took a seat on a rock across the path from gnarled dead tree overlooking the lake and the hills beyond. The tree looked like a perfect perch for an eagle. The colors were brilliant and crisp. I was experiencing the present like I had never before. I felt like I had truely earned the right to be there and take it all in. I had walked nearly sixty miles across the tops of mountains by myself. I had climbed miles beyond the onset of burning pain and exhaustion over and over again, and finally I had weathered blasting rain lost in a void of clouds to descend into this peaceful valley. I had been re-enrgized and was much stronger than when I began. This was beyond anything I'd ever felt before. I felt relaxed and in tune with my surroundings. Beside me I had set out some items from my backpack that had gotten damp. I ate a bananna and watched the wind flip back and forth through the pages of my journal that I had layed open. The idea that every page was being exposed to this place and moment made me smile.
After a while a local elderly couple came down the path towards me. I had seen them earlier, off the path, birdwatching. They stopped to say hello and to ask me about my travels. Very nice folks. The old man, missing many teeth, seemed an extremely simple soul. His wife with a round cheerful face was more the talker. She told me about the lake wich was really a resevoir and about the village which used to exsit there. They could still remember it. She pointed out towards the head of the lake where a church steeple, until rescently still stood, jutting out of the water. Her grandfather used to play the organ there. They dynamited it a couple years ago because people were swimming out to it and they felt it was dangerous. They told me that at the end of summer when the water gets low you can see the remains of the village and walk the streets. There's even an old stone bridge that went over the stream that became the lake.
The two of them went on down the path and I decide it was time to gather up my things and get moving. The shrooms were still very much in effect but had mellowed to a really nice level. As I began to walk I was amazed at how light and agile I felt. There was no pain in my feet. It was as though my body was getting much more oxygen than usual. Visuals were minimal, but it was the intensity of my senses and perception that was really going. My mind was clear and alert and I just felt good. I was truely at peace with myself and the world.
I found another nice spot to stop beside the path. I was in constant amazement, like having a lucid dream, awake in the fantasy. I was sitting in a spot that was obscured by a flowering gorn bush, so when a couple of men came down the path and passed the bush they were surprised to see me. They stopped. "Well, you've found a good hiding spot", one of them said. They had their rain gear slung over their packs. They told me a story about how they had gotten lost up in the clouds making several very wrong turns. They had considered giving up and heading back to Patterdale but then they manged to find the correct way. It turned out that they were doing the coast-to-coast walk as well. I told them that I had briefly gone the wrong direction up there as well but corrected it after a short distance. They continued on their way and I sat there for a while longer soaking up the gently undulating scenery. I thought about the Del Monte bananna I had eaten. I got a good laugh thinking about how it was the Del Monte organization's task to send banannas to the far reaches of the earth. At the time it was quite funny.
I continued down the path along the resevoir past a couple of beautiful little waterfalls. The hillside on this side of the resevoir was open and covered in many places by these thick thorny bushes of yellow flowers. And in between were other wild flowers growing in the green grass. The small puffy clouds cast their shadows across the scene here and there, moving with the breeze down the path. Finnally, I made it to the dam at the foot of the lake. There were signs posted warning of the hazzards of going into the water there.
Keep Out of Water!
I, of course, found this quite funny. It made me think of a couple of scenes in "Naked Gun". One being the scene where OJ gets shot, his hand gets slammed in a window, he burns his hand on a stove, leans up agains wet paint, falls into a wedding cake, steps into a bear trap, and finally falls into the water. The other scene being the one at the end where Recardo falls from the bleachers and then is run over by numerous things ending with a marching band.
I continued on. Now I was entering a magical forest beyond some old cottages. Green moss covered the ground. The path was soft and carressed my feet as I meandered around the twisted dark trees. I felt like I could walk forever and never get tired. I crossed a road and followed a creek through the the rolling sheep pastures and gnarled trees. The sheep mow the grass like a putting green everywhere. Every angle and perspective was amazingly beautiful like something from a fantasy painting. I wasn't completely sure that I was going the right direction but I didn't care. Everything was so peaceful and soft that I could see absolutely no harm in getting lost. I parted with the creek and headed up a gentlehillside pasture. The sheep parted a way for me. I had a habbit of talking to the sheep even when I was sober. "You guys have it so easy. This is paradise. You have no idea of what your cousins up in the mountains endure. No idea... not a clue. Le'me just tell you, you have it good here."
From the top of the hill I could see the rolling countryside, green pastures and forests. More clouds were coming in and the late sun produced brilliant shafts of light that illuminated patches of land giving it tremendous depth and dimention. All I could do was enjoy it. I was there, fully. I was experiencing it all. Lucid.
I made my way past the ruins of Shap Abbey, its crumbling walls and dark tower set into the thickening mist. It began to rain lightly as I followed a paved road leading to Shap. The mushrooms completely wore off by the time I got there. It had been one of the most incredible days of my life. I scrounged up a few £'s for a room for the night at a B&B. It turned out that the two men I'd met on the path were staying in the room next to me, so we decided to go to the pub down the street and have a few pints and some dinner. A nice end to the day, and I slept very well.
I took shrooms twice more during my coast-to-coast walk. Perhaps I'll do a writup on those as well. One thing I would like to point out was just how much the mushrooms were able to help me out physically. Pain reduction, incredible increase in endurance, agility. I could literally feel my heavy backpack getting lighter as the shrooms began to kick in.