Citation: Look to the Sky. "War Amongst the Clouds: An Experience with Cacti - San Pedro (exp100145)". Erowid.org. Jul 9, 2017. erowid.org/exp/100145
I had little experience prior to this trip with any form of drugs psychedelic or otherwise other than one mushroom trip and two experiences with weed. My first mushroom trip left my mind wide open to the possibilities of hallucinogenic compounds and led me to trying San Pedro Cactus.
I ordered the San Pedro from an online retailer and received 3 roughly 18 inch sections of fairly thin cactus. The cactus was thin but still had an about a 3 inch diameter so this led to a large surface area which apparently is one factor in determining potency. I am normally fairly cautious with any type of substance the first time I try it but I really wanted the full experience so I decided to split the cactus between myself and my friend who had slightly more experience than I did at the time.
I prepared that cactus by slicing it into 1 inch cubes and freezing it overnight. The next morning I thawed it out and poured an ungodly amount of lemon juice over it (roughly 2 cups) to aid in the extraction of the mescaline and then refroze the cubes again until thoroughly frozen. The next morning I thawed them out and blended the mixture in a food processor (note: I would recommend a blender as the food processor added a lot of air to the snotty mixture). I put the disgusting lime-green gloopy cactus puree into a large pot and simmered in on very low heat for 2 hours adding water to keep the liquid level constant. My theory on extraction was to do a thorough extraction on very low heat so as not to destroy the more temperature sensitive alkaloids in the cactus first, and then vigorously extract the remaining alkaloids on high heat. Following this idea I then strained the mixture through a pillow case and squeezed out every ounce of liquid and stored it in the fridge. I was left with roughly a softball sized lump of bright green cactus fiber and pulp to which I added roughly 2 liters of water in a pot and boiled on high heat for 2 hours. I strained this mix again and added the two extractions together. I boiled the combined mix down to a drinkable volume. This ended up being about 40 fluid ounces, split between the two of us.
At 11:00 AM we started to imbibe the dark green sour mixture. We had heard about the vile nature of the drink and our first sips confirmed this. It was horribly sour and bitter; however I think the taste was made much worse by the huge amount of lemon juice I added. By 11:30 we had finished a little over half of the drink. I noticed that my friend’s pupils had become hugely dilated already, and this was when I knew that we were in for one hell of a trip. After an hour of trying every method to finish our drinks I still had roughly 3 ounces to finish and my friend had 5 ounces left. We were battling very strong urges to vomit so we both just laid down in my living room for about 30 minutes until the sickness passed. After this initial nausea we both felt fairly good and decided to get my friends friend who was sober to drive us to a local lake with trails to walk on.
We got in the car for the 15 minute ride at 12:30 and during the ride I was doing everything I could to not to freak out our sober driver as I was already starting to trip heavily and my friend, who always clams up both physically and socially when tripping was huddled in the corner of the car not saying anything. He told me later the he was already tripping more heavily than he ever had before only 45 min after finishing drinking the mix. As I looked at the clouds I was sober enough to know that what I was seeing wasn’t real, but even so the clouds we morphing into animals, shapes, people, anything really and they seemed to be battling each other trying to gain the most size; constantly pulling off some cloud from their neighbor and losing it the another cloud—it was epic and amazing to watch.
We arrived at the park and as I stepped out of the car I felt a surge of confidence and self-assuredness. I immediately led the way into the forest along the trail we had parked near. Our sober driver had never done any type of drug and I had never met him prior to this so I felt the need to act as normal as possible so as not to frighten him as well as to keep my friend from getting scared and going to dark places within his mind. Now I was tripping extremely hard at this point (roughly 1:00 PM) and had no concept of the world outside of what I could see or anything else associated with regular life but I was still completely confident and even began to feel euphoric as we advanced along the path. The speckled sunlight filtering down through the tree was absolutely indescribable and I had to actively try to not look around because the world around me was becoming so brilliant and infinitely intricate that I knew if I stopped I would never want to leave. About 10 minutes into the walk I asked the sober guy to give me the remaining cactus juice because I wanted to finish it. I finished another 5 ounces or so and strangely it didn’t really taste bad at all and the after taste was a little pleasurable in my mouth as we continued to walk. Now normally when I am coming up on a big high I am somewhat frightened so it was strange to me that even though I was tripping wildly and I knew I was nowhere near peaking that I wanted to consume more.
Anyway we continued to trek through the forest without seeing another person. My friend later told me that he had followed within a foot or two of me the whole walk because he felt like I was some sort of guiding power and that he would be safe with me, strange because that was exactly how I felt—like I was more in control of this walk than of anything I had ever done in my life. I felt simultaneously as though I was both leading and being led by the drug. After about a mile of walking covered in roughly 30 min I noticed large flies buzzing into and around me -- great. I didn’t even comprehend the idea that we could turn back I only knew that our walk in the woods was done and we needed to go back to the car. I continued walking for 5 or 10 minutes until I felt the need to veer off the path and walk through the thick underbrush. Somehow after a minute or two of this we ended up on the shore of the lake, and across a 70 foot inlet of the lake was our car! I didn’t even think about how strange this was that we ended up here in the perfect spot because I felt so confident in where I was leading that it didn’t even seem possible to end up anywhere but here.
It was midsummer so the temperature was about 100 degrees at the time, (although I felt great and didn’t notice the heat at all) and so I knew the water would be warm enough to swim across. I told both my friend and the sober guy that we need to swim across and my friends face turned ghost white. He mumbled a bit but all I got from it was that he could barely walk let alone swim because he was tripping so hard. The sober guy also thought it was a bad idea and that we should just walk along the shore back. I didn’t even register their ideas as I was being guided by a force that would only allow one option—we were swimming. We all had cellphones, keys and wallets in our shorts so I said I would carry things across the lake. I went in first, and the feeling of the hot, still water licking at my feet and enveloping my body as I slowly walked into the river was amazing. I was stripped down to my shorts and had to carry my wallet, cellphone, shirt, shoes and keys in one hand as I swam across the lake with one arm carrying all the valuables in the air; it was a hard task. I swam back and repeated the trip with the sober guys stuff.
This was when the trip starting getting to a whole new level. Each time a made the crossing I felt like I physically and mentally entered a deeper level of the trip. It was a tangible sensation and was completely euphoric and exciting; never once was I scared swimming across even though I would never have done this sober. I had to focus really hard on staying above the water because it was so warm and nice as well as being difficult to cross while holding all the crap in the air with one hand that if I didn’t focus I felt like I might have happily floated down under the water. After both guys had crossed the river I was on the far side with one trip left, and naturally the heaviest stuff to carry across this trip. I entered the water; it was very warm so it was hard to tell where my body ended and where the water began. In the middle of the crossing I turned on my back to rest for a second and as my ears submerged all sounds were instantly cut off. I looked up at the sky while floating on my back in the complete silence…. It was the most singularly beautiful and indescribable thing I have ever experienced. As I looked up I saw a small speck of black—a bird gliding without flapping it’s wings hundreds of feet above me against an impossibly infinite expanse of blue sky. I was completely overwhelmed by the infinity of the blue, broken only by the small white puffs of clouds. In that moment I feel as though I was able to truly understand the concept of infinity, and it was beautiful. This whole experience lasted less than a second I started to sink just as I rolled on my back and stopped paddling. In that moment I had to choose between the most excruciatingly beautiful experience I had ever felt and survival… ultimately I never had to decide as my arms started to flap again and I rolled over to continue swimming without a conscious effort.
I reached the other side and unable to communicate the experience just walked several feet up the shore and sat down on the bench with the other two guys.
At this point it was roughly 1:45 (2:45 since first sip). I reached down below the bench and picked up an old Shiner Bock beer bottle cap. On the bottle cap was the most quizzical looking Ram head I had ever seen and his expression was hilarious to me. I felt as though he knew exactly what my friend and I had done and were feeling and he was simultaneously curious and skeptical. I told my friend and he laughed but he was tripping so hard he probably had no idea what I was saying. After a few minutes of sitting with the silence only punctuated by the occasional “Holy Shit”, “This is intense” and groans of a tripper getting uncomfortably deep in pyschadelia I told our sober driver to take us home. It felt very comforting to get in the car as being outside was starting to get too intense and a little frightening and overwhelming. On the ride home not much was said but I snuck a few glances at the clouds only to see that they were engaged in what I can only describe as world war 3; a sight that was a little too much for me to handle. Before getting home we decided that my we should get food, not because we were hungry but because we wanted something to ground us a bit. In the Jimmy Johns drive through the driver asked what we wanted to eat however my friend and I were hopelessly confused by the menu and didn’t care. During the trip my only gauge as to whether I should eat or not was to press on my stomach to see if there was food in it as I had no grasp on the sensation or idea of being hungry. We arrived home at 2:00 and began eating in my living room. I have no idea what was on the sandwich but I was convinced this thing in my hand was not food. I ate ravenously anyway because I felt like I should. At one point I noticed I was eating the paper wrapping on the sandwich and remarked to my friend that this sandwich wasn’t food anyway so what did it matter if I ate the paper too. We both found this funny.
By 2:10 we had finished the sandwich and time really started to lose all meaning at this point. We decided we should listen to music at this point both to see what it sounded like and because communication was becoming very hard at this point. I tried to find cool music to listen to but I kept getting impatient after the music didn’t drop or get good after what I perceived to be several minutes. I would be shocked each time as I noticed that only 30-40 seconds had passed by the time I wanted to change the music instead of the dozen or so minutes I had expected. I decided I would listen to the next song in its entirety so I picked The Crystal Methods song “Trip Like I do” from youtube because I remembered how cool the drop was. Little did I know I had chosen a remix that was absolutely horrifying. The video images would have been freaky sober but in my state they were just not bearable so I switched it off and put the music away.
It was 2:00 now (3 hours since first sip) and my mind had switched into overdrive. I was tripping my face off and it was uncomfortable so I dragged an old recliner into a small room adjacent to the living room with a large window that looked out over the backyard. I was stuck in the chair for the next 2 and a half hours and it is hard to describe what I experienced but I will try.
Most of the time I felt as though my brain was putty that was being stretched not only in each 3-dimensional direction but in 4-dimensions. I had dozens of thoughts rocket through my head at the same time, some mundane, some truly unbelievable. It was painful because I knew that in this state my brain was working at 10,000% normal capacity so I could do amazing things with it but the power was more than my feeble mind could handle so I was left with only fractions of a second to comprehend the ideas I was being given. I was also in fairly gripping physical angst, writhing around subconsciously on the recliner, my body extremely tense. I noticed that if I looked at my legs (they were shaved so the visuals were particularly clear) that my muscles were quivering with energy. It wasn’t just a visual effect as I touched them and could feel the tremors beneath the skin. It was wild to look at as I could look at an area and the quivering would move to wherever I was looking. I started to believe that there was something in my body that I was not completely in control of, but I wasn’t too scared by this thought, I felt safe throughout the trip and never went anywhere very dark.
I looked at the wall several inches from my face—cheap faux-wood paneling veneer over drywall. To my delight I noticed the wood grain appeared to by dripping or running down the wall. I found this very fun to watch and after a while I noticed a spot on the wall where the wood had been chipped off exposing the drywall. This spot disrupted the dripping walls visual and made me think coherently within my mind that this was all just an illusion, and a cheap one at that. Just as I was thinking this I was struck by what felt like a physical and mental gust of angry wind. It was the wall! It let me know that it was angry I had insulted its dripping wood display as it was trying it’s best to make it look cool. I immediately felt embarrassed and a little scared and apologized to the wall… he ignored me(Weird Note: the TV program on in the room I am in now while typing this up just started showing how wood veneer is made…weird). Now I know this sounds crazy but it was as real to me as talking to another person. After the wall I studied the 3 handles on a cabinet built into the wall in front of me. The handles on the cabinet looked at me very disapprovingly and I wanted them to know that I was nice and here to stay (I had moved into the house only a month earlier). After 10 or so minutes, again no sense of time, I won over the cabinet handles by letting them know I was here to stay and that I appreciated them until I felt they were happy and liked me.
By this time it was around 4:30 (5:30 since first sip) and the trip was reaching a crescendo. I was overwhelmed and kept staring at my watch trying to figure out what in the Hell I usually did at 4:30 on a normal day. My sense of time had been annihilated and I wouldn’t have been surprised if I couldn’t read or write at this point. My friend entered the room and assumed the fetal position on the couch behind me without saying a word. I kept trying to stare out the window to slow my mind down but I was hardly able to even register any sight because within my mind there was already so much going on. After 30 more minutes at around 5:00 I physically felt as if I had peaked. It was like all the tension in my body had melted away in an instant and my mind was my own once again. I would imagine a man dying of thirst in the desert felt similar when he found water. Obviously it was a very enjoyable feeling. The strangest thing was that right after it happened I looked at my friend for the first time in 2 hours and our eyes met. I didn’t even need to ask because I already knew the answer but I did anyway, “Did you feel that?” “Yeah that was crazy, I think I peaked,” he replied. It was amazing to me that we could both peak at exactly the same time despite having consumed different amounts of cactus and being 6 hours from consumption, but the whole trip I felt very connected to my friend and he felt the same thing. In fact as we were coming down hours later we attempted to read each other’s minds. It didn’t work but we both said we wouldn’t have been surprised at all if we had done it while tripping heavily.
After the peak we spent 30 minutes watching trippy videos, all of which blew my mind. By 6:00 we felt coherent again and spoke about our experience and feelings about it some. We were both fairly messed up and I was unable to vocalize my thoughts so it wasn’t very insightful. My friend was however able to use the time before peaking to analyze his life and relationships and said he felt like he figured a lot of things out. We spent the next several hours feeling very “meth’d out” as we called it. It felt like an amphetamine high or like we had just drunk 10 cups of coffee and we were full of nervous energy and still very far off baseline. At 9:30 I tried to clean the house some to ground myself but it didn’t work, I was still tripping. My girlfriend who had never experienced any mind altering substance before came over at 10:00 and although I knew she wasn’t mad I felt guilty for still being tripped out so I tried my hardest to be normal. We were still messed up no doubt about it. In fact while sitting in the kitchen talking to my girlfriend my friend was sitting so awkwardly in the chair he broke the wooden back off which we found very funny. By 12:00 we were beginning to get irritated that we were still so jittery and unable to sit still, the come down was just soooo slow. The comedown might have been more enjoyable had we not been so exhausted from the come-up.
At 12:30 I had sex with my girlfriend which was nice and grounded me a bit, but I was so emotionally and physically drained that it was hard to focus. At 2:00 we were still jittery but so exhausted we just went to our rooms and attempted to sleep it off. After a restless hour sleep finally came to me. I have no doubt I would have still been tripping for several hours had I not fallen asleep. The next morning I woke up early to run with my friend and we talked some about the experience. We couldn’t get over how intense it was and how long it lasted—15 hours from first sip till we fell asleep.
I didn’t have much time to process the trip as we left for a 10 hour drive to Colorado that morning directly after the run and I am writing this report 9 months after the experience. It was an incredible journey but has left me wary of drugs since then as it showed me a hint of the power they contain. I would be interested in doing it again at a similar or slightly lower dose. Happy travels.
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