This report is about the second shroom trip I took during my 200 mile walk across England. I recomend reading the first "Coast-to-Coast" report before reading this one.
At this point in my journey I had been walking for about two weeks and had traveled about 150 miles. The previous 40 miles or so had been agony due to the incredible pains in my feet and my left ankle. But I had managed to limp my way to the friendly little village of Osmotherly just before the boundary of the Yorkshire Dales. I decided to take a few days rest there to see if I could recover enough to finnish the journey. Besides, the locals were nice and there were several pubs to spend time at.
Well, after three days I was still limping and I decided that I would have to give up and head home. I took a bus to North Allerton to get a train back to London. It was a sad morning for me. I hadn't traveled by any means other than my feet in over two weeks until I got on that bus. So I bought by ticket and trudged up to the platform to await my train. Soon it would come and take me away. I held my face in my hands, on the verge of tears. I would have to live with this failure for the rest of my life. This just wasn't acceptable. Suddenly, I came to a descision. I got up, threw my pack on my back and walked away. A taxi took me back to Osmotherly where I spent one more night. I could endure three more days of pain better than a lifetime of dissapointment.
(Don't worry shrooms are coming.)
The next morning I set out on my way, and to my surprise my feet and ankle felt considerably better. It was an absolutely beautiful day. This section of the journey was supposed to be about 12 miles from Osmotherly to Clay Bank Top over numerous hills. After about a mile or so I stopped and took a seat on the grassy bank of a stream to swig down a couple grams of powdered mushrooms that I had brought from Amsterdam. The area around me was made up of steep grassy little hills and a gravel road which I had been following. Nearby was a small parking area where a couple of school busses had pulled up full of kids on a field trip. They all got out and were led by their teachers up the path past me, carrying little containers (for holding samples I suppose). I was still washing down the shrooms when they walked by me completely oblivious to my naughty halucinogens.
I wound my way up the road to a gate that led into a thick forest of pines where my path continued. My bootlaces had come undone so I bent down to tie them, and when I stood back up I realized that the shrooms were coming on. It wasn't a headrush. Bam! "I'm trippin'." As I began to walk again I could litterally feel by heavy backpack getting lighter and my pain receeding to nothing. Colorful patterns of light flickered through the trees and danced on the path before me. I came across an opening in the woods where there was a lookout point with a bench. There were three guys sitting there looking over the rolling plain below. They were laughing their asses off at something. I could only see them from behind, composited on a background of quilted farmland. Their laughter sounded like an intoxicated crowd. I went on down the path without disturbing them. The trees changed from pines to some sort of broad-leaf trees. I'm not good at identifying species of trees. They were quite pretty though. The path traversed the hillside through the woods which were carpeted with purple iruses. It was like being in a Van Gogh painting. There was a gentle undulation to everything. The colors were intense.
Eventually I came out of the forest and into a sheep pasture snuggled in a bowl of wooded hills. I had seen sheep on every part of my journey, on the sea cliffs, on high mountain ridges, desolate moors, everywhere. So when I passed some sheep as I crossed the meadow I turned to one of them and said, "How the hell do you keep getting ahead of me"?
So I continued along through woods and pastures. The path began to wind its way up a large hill at the edge of the range overlooking the flat farmland patchwork to the north. Then I came upon the smell of death, a sweet rotting stench mixed with the fragrance of flowers. Normally I would find this to be an unpleasant smell, but I came to me as a sign of the cycle of life and I was pleased. As I contunued up the path I thought of my grandmother who had died a few months earlier at the age of nienty. She had never done much of any traveling away from her home in Rochester, NY, but she loved to oilpaint landscapes and still-lifes. I thought about how she would have loved to have been able to see what I was seeing.
The shrooms continued to build as I climbed the steepening path up and out of the woods. I found myself on a rising ridge covered in heather. The wind was getting stronger and stronger as I went. I was following the front ridge of hills that overlooked the low flat countryside that spread to the horison. I could see many farms and villages to the north and ahead of me to the east the line of steep heathered hills that I was to follow to a high plateu of rolling moors. With the combination of wind, the high perspective, and the shrooms, I felt as though I was flying. Amazingly free and energized.
Up ahead I could see a number of people strung out along the path. As I caught up with a couple of them I heard them talking, their voices disrupted by the wind. The man was speaking with an American accent. He sounded so strange to me, like a voiceover from a 1950's "duck and cover" reel or perhaps the exaggerated American accent used by Monty Python sometimes. I said hello to them. It turned out that they were actually Canadians. Supposedly most of the others up the path were Canadians, too. These guys tripped me out. I continued on.
I was so incredibly happy that I had walked away from that train the day before. This was the first time in my life where I could so clearly see the fork in the road of my life. It was so obvious... poetic. My life would have been quite different if I had gotten on that train. I was feeling strong and healthy, like I could walk forever without rest. The whole world was beneath my feet.
I walked on for miles up and down the hills, soaring and diving like an eagle above countryside, the little houses and pastures slipping below me. I came to a high point on the ridge where someone had built a stone monument with a bench. It was made in honor of a man named Falconer. On top of a stone pillar was a plaque with arrows with labels pointing to places on the northern horison. From there I could see to the east just below the line of hills the village that I had origionally planned to stop for the night. And beyond that to the east I could see where the line of hills met with the high plateu that I was to cross the next day. But I felt like I had to go on. I felt too good and energized to stop at Clay Bank Top, and besides, it wasn't even three in the afternoon yet. I pointed to the far east horizon and said, "Mr Falconer, I'm going three times the distance past that horizon. Over those hills and beyond where I can see and beyond that. How's that sound to you"? My depth perception was enhanced to the point that I could almost see around the hills.
I still had a couple of miles to Clay Bank Top and the breathing landscape beckoned me. I came to a hilltop covered with large strange rock formations. Some people were basking in the sun. I met up with a group of Irish hikers just below the rocks. They were uncertain of how to get across them. I just smiled, said hello and began climbing. It was so easy. I felt like an elf springing up the steep rocks. The Irish group followed me figuring that I seemed to know where I was going.
The woman behind me said in her musical accent, "I hope you're not leadin' us the wrong way".
I said, "I don't think there is a wrong way".
"Good answer", she replied.
There were patterns and faces in the rocks. We made it through and ended up on a long level ridge. Eventually the path wound downhill and through some woods to where it met a road. There were several people sitting by the road resting their feet. They were going to follow the road north to the nearby town to sleep for the night. Across the road a path ran up a steep incline to the high plateu of moors that I had origionally planned to cross the following day. The rout follows a dismantled railway and paths for 16 and a 1/2 miles to the next town. About halfway across there was supposed to be a great pub along a highway called the Red Lion Inn. It was hundreds of years old and the only form of civilization on the rout. I figured that I had enough energy to go another eight miles.
So off I went up into the beautiful desolation of the high moors. The shrooms were wearing off but I still felt the energy. Oh man. It was a whole different world up there. The wind was intense, blowing waves of white dust from the path in my face. I had to claw through it. I met up with the dismantled railway and followed it as it wound through grooves in the peat and heather. Way out in the middle of nowhere there was a construction crew building a gravel road. The ensuing duststorm was viscious. A few miles further down the path I heard someone coming up behind me. It was this huge hulk of a guy jogging up the path with a pack on. He stopped to say hello to me. He had one of those thick dopey kind of English accents. He told me that he worked at the costruction site and this was how he got to and from work every day, about eight miles each way. Real friendly guy. He continued jogging down the path and out of sight.
Eventually I made it to the Red Lion Inn. By that point the shrooms hade done all they could do and I was exhausted and my feet really hurt. I had come 21 miles that day. And to think that the morning before, I was prepared to quit. I had a great meal and several pints of beer with people I met in the pub. There weren't any rooms available so I camped outside in my tent next to the ancient pub in the middle of nowhere.
Woa! What a fandamntastic day!
Two days later I made it to Robinhood's Bay on the North Sea.