Citation: Xorkoth. "At Last A Psychedelic Hike and More: An Experience with LSD (exp107585)". Erowid.org. Jan 10, 2016. erowid.org/exp/107585
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LSD for me has always been a really strange thing. When I first began taking psychedelics, it was the second real psychedelic I tried, after a few mushroom trips (which were spaced out over a long period of time). The first time I tried LSD, it was probably my fourth time tripping. Some friends and I all took the same dose from the same batch, and while they were experiencing a classic and enjoyable trip, I literally felt nothing beyond placebo.
Over the next 10 years, I tried LSD a variety of other times, always with the same result (threshold or nothing), no matter how much I took and no matter how hard the others I was with were tripping. One time I even took 3 of the legendary Hofmann blotters and barely felt above threshold. So I came to the conclusion that I have a high natural tolerance for or immunity to LSD and I sort of gave it up as a lost cause, since every other psychedelic I've tried seems to affect me as one would expect, and I was rarely ever able to find it. Then, a year and a half ago, it started coming around much more steadily. I was at a music festival and decided to take 5 hits of what was pretty strong LSD (half a hit of this LSD got my friend tripping nicely). Finally, I experienced a real trip from it, but I still found it sort of lacking, like it never fully developed but I was getting some visuals and a head change that was very enjoyable. Once I 'broke through' to that level, I noticed that I was able to have that same level of trip on it with more normal dosages, though I still needed more than most people. I've had several really nice but light trips on it since then, none of which were powerfully altering, but I enjoyed some really nice effects such as euphoria, light visuals, and an absolutely undeniable increase in my ability to play and feel music.
With that being said, I'd like to tell you about my first real breakthrough into a full and satisfying LSD trip. My feeling is that now that I have been there, I will be able to get back to that same place in the future, much like how once I broke through to getting actual effects at all from LSD, that became my new 'LSD baseline' from then on.
It was Saturday, December 12th, 2015. I was going to be traveling back to see my family for Christmas in a few days, and I felt the desire to have a good trip before that, as a sort of temporary farewell to the place I live that I love so much, before finding myself once again in Chicagoland, which is always a little hard for me. The weather was almost unreasonably nice for this time of year, 75 degrees down in town and beautifully sunny. My good friend and I decided we'd like to go on a high-elevation hike at this beautiful place called Black Balsam, which is at around 6000 feet, above the tree line, across a variety of balds, with incredible panoramic views of the mountains the whole time. We decided that I would drive and we timed it so that I wouldn't be tripping while driving. My friend took his hit as we got in the car, and I decided I'd wait to take my two hits (of probably the best LSD I've ever had) til we were about 10 minutes away from our destination (the drive there took about an hour).
And so we embarked on our journey in the morning. I was rather low on gas, but as we left I passed up the nearest gas station because that one is almost always nearly out of gas and it's a huge hassle to deal with it, so I figured I'd just find one along the way. However, the route we took had very few gas stations and as my friend and I talked, we both sort of just forgot about it. About 45 minutes into the drive, my gas light came on and I noticed, but my understanding was that it was only a few more miles and we'd have had to backtrack a lot to get to one, and we already were getting started a little later than we wanted to since it gets dark around 5:30 at this time of the year, and I really wanted the timing to work out so I wouldn't be stuck sitting in my car waiting to come down later. So I made the decision to keep going, since when my gas light comes on I still have 2 gallons in the tank. However, as we kept going I realized to my worry that it was actually about 15 more miles to go, and it was all uphill. My worry increased as we went on, and it kept taking longer and longer to get there. By the time we rolled to a stop in the parking area, the needle was JUST above the zero-mark. Basically right as we parked, I began to come up on the LSD, and anxiety filled my being. I wasn't trying to worry my friend but as my anxiety built I was having thoughts about how this would go down later when we left... I envisioned it being dark and running out of gas on a very small back-country mountain road that is not very well-traveled, with no phone service. So, entirely and annoyingly distracted by my worries, we set off on our hike.
At first, I was unable to move past it, but soon I resolved to myself that I should view this as a test and a learning experience. Being able to put aside anxiety for something you have no control over is a very useful skill, and it's something I've been consciously trying to get better at this past year. So as I walked, I made a concerted effort to intentionally turn off my thoughts and just take in the scenery and the process of hiking which I love. My friend was coming up too and so it was totally okay that I didn't have much to say, because neither did he. I felt a little self-conscious about it; at the time I thought maybe he was getting weird vibes from me and that's why he wasn't talking, but later he told me he didn't feel like talking then either. But at the time it felt awkward. I realized in the process of dealing with these feelings that I have always been a people-pleaser, sometimes to my detriment, especially as a kid. So I resolved to put those feelings aside as well. As we walked, I found it difficult to enjoy my surroundings, but I remained dedicated to moving past this mental set. We made a couple of stops to rest, and passed quite a few people. I felt a little awkward around other people but it was easily manageable since we didn't have to interact with any of them beyond a cordial 'how are you doing?' or the like. I gradually felt more and more comfortable within myself as the hike progressed.
Eventually I was able to put my anxieties aside and start fully enjoying the hike and the growing LSD trip. We stopped to take a breather a few more times, and on a particular stop where we perched on a rock overhanging the edge of the mountain top we were on, I finally was able to take stock of what I was experiencing. My field of vision was absolutely gorgeous, a panoramic view of countless smaller mountains on all sides. The colors I was seeing were greatly enhanced and whatever I looked at up close was slowly morphing, organic shapes seeming to emerge from the very fiber of the being of a rock or plant. Waving my hands around was very enjoyable, as I was experiencing gorgeous tracers; for example, if I waved my arm in a circle I would see an uninterrupted swirl of my flesh forming a complete circle. It almost seemed as if the air itself was made of a sort of substance that I was actually interacting with as I moved through it, an effect that is almost identical to 4-HO-MPT, at least in the one time I've tried it thus far. There was still little head change, like all the other times I've taken LSD... it was something I had become used to and grown to expect so I wasn't surprised or upset about it.
As we progressed in the hike, we reached a steeply downhill part where the trail was an old stream bed, cut deep into the ground. At times the rest of the mountain's ground was up to our chests on either side. Within the groove were large and small rocks and tree roots. It was quite fun traversing them, and suddenly both my friend and I realized we were past not wanting to talk, so we began discussing all sorts of things. I found myself getting pretty personal and telling him about some personal thoughts and struggles, and it was a great bonding time. My overall feeling was verging on empathogenic and I realized the trip had transitioned into something greatly enjoyable, but basically the same state as all of the other times I've taken LSD recently. Of course that's what I was expecting so I was happy to be there, and I considered that perhaps the peak had started. Already the visuals were stronger than any I had had on LSD before, and I felt that smooth, effortless flow feeling that I get from acid. We continued on like this, talking in an animated fashion, when my friend suggested we stop and smoke some weed. That was at about 3 hours into the hike. We stopped on a beautiful overhanging rock and packed a bowl and smoked it. I noticed little change, except that it made me feel even nicer and more euphoric. We sat and talked for a bit, and then continued on.
Eventually we reached the point where you can turn around and the total loop is 5 miles. Just ahead we saw a beautiful little stand of trees (the only trees we'd seen thus far that we were able to get to) and we decided to make it our end point before we turned around. As we walked towards it, I very rapidly began to trip considerably harder, just like when you are coming up into the peak and smoke some weed, except it had been at least a half hour since we had smoked, and the total trip duration was nearing 4 hours. It's as if each step towards these trees was causing a feeling of what can only be described as magic to fill me and the world around me. As I walked through some brush and into the forest stand, it's like a switch flipped in my brain, and suddenly I was THERE
. My thoughts began moving in new and astounding ways, though I did not know what to make of it yet. It turns out the trees sheltered a beautiful campsite that just struck me as being an utterly enchanted place. It seemed a world apart from the rest of the hike, a little sheltered place filled with presences. My vision began to absolutely light up with color and patterns. The very nature of the place was mystifying to me. What caused this isolated stand of trees to grow here and not anywhere else nearby, and then what caused the majority of them to die, leaving only skeletons? As I stared at the bone-white trunks, they seemed to call to me, hauntingly, ethereally, desiring to reveal to me their secrets, yet I couldn't comprehend their message.
I closed my eyes and began feeling the energies around me, and my head filled with conceptual images, a dizzying cacophony of ideas that seemed too large for my awareness to contain. I suddenly found myself in an extremely altered state, though I found it a bit overwhelming and confusing. My friend and I sat there and rested briefly and talked about the little forest stand and how magical it seemed, and then after a bit we decided to head back, as it was several hours before we would return to the car and we wanted to make sure to get off the mountain before dark.
The way back, as I remembered from hiking there months before, turned out to be much more intense physically than the way there, because whereas we had gone steeply downhill across uneven terrain before, this time we had to go back up the same steep terrain. As my heart rate increased from the exertion, I began to peak even harder. The mountain views, when I looked at them for even a moment, would begin to pixellate into fractal coils, separate into distinct colors, and unhinge from one another into a beautiful spinning collage. I was experiencing full-scale perspective shifting, in both color, shape, and apparent function of objects. There was less outright patterning and bending than there was with ETH-LAD, but the visual alteration appeared real, glowing, significant and profound, tied intimately into my emotions. As my level of exertion grew, I began to feel an absolutely coursing euphoria that I felt sure was coming from the dopamine agonism of the molecule I had taken. As my heart pounded harder and harder, I increased my speed and force. I began feeling invincible, tireless.
Slowly at first, I began to notice symptoms of mania creeping in.
Slowly at first, I began to notice symptoms of mania creeping in.
I felt absolutely incredible, and strange ideas of my level of power began to occur to me. I would periodically take stock of this and realize I was thinking delusionally and grandiosely, yet my thoughts seemed out of my control. I began to feel on the edge of insanity, and for the first time in many years the worry crept up slyly that perhaps I had gone too far. My thoughts were half amazing and half frightening to me. I still felt that I was unable to fully comprehend what my brain was doing, and it seemed part of my thought process was splitting off from my ordinary, understandable mental pathways. Despite that, I felt powerfully driven to try to communicate to my friend the vast awareness I was perceiving. But each attempt was futile, I'd get a half a sentence in and realize I couldn't explain what I was feeling with words, and that would make me feel once again threatened. I also felt self-conscious about it; despite knowing intellectually that my friend was having his own trip and was probably not even aware that I was feeling this way, the way I persistently felt
was that I was making him uncomfortable because of my lack of ability to articulate my feelings. Because of this, our period of intense uphill hiking was characterized by a rapid roller-coaster of feeling amazing and revelatory that shifted into feeling out of control and nerve-wracking, back and forth. A very intense ride, not unpleasant but not entirely pleasant either.
At last my friend called for a rest, pulling me out of my manic drive from who knows where to keep moving as powerfully as I could without stopping. We sat down on a rock overlooking a gloriously shifting long-range view and as my heart rate went down, so too did my racing thoughts. I began to feel centered again, and though I was still tripping powerfully, I felt I had made it to just past the top of the peak. I felt that it was suddenly easier to communicate, so that's what I started to do. I explained where my head had been at to my friend, and we discussed the nature of LSD for a while. I came to the hypothesis that, due to the dopamine receptor agonism of LSD, especially in higher doses, I was experiencing some mania as my physical exertion increased. It certainly felt dopaminergic, as it was accompanied by euphoria and feelings of being powerful. The discomfort came entirely from me worrying about why I was suddenly feeling rather unhinged. With my thoughts calmed down, I began turning my mind to whatever I felt like thinking about, and deeply analyzing it internally and sometimes with my friend. I had a lot of insights about the nature of humanity and what it is to exist, as well as my behaviors. After a while we decided to push on through the next leg of the hike.
As we continued our journey, I noticed the change in the quality and lack of control of my thoughts whenever we had to push hard for a while, but since I had thought about it and was aware of it happening now, it didn't alarm me anymore. Instead I observed and analyzed it, and enjoyed the euphoric push. As the feeling would grow, so would the visuals and feelings of magic. Everything looked intensely alive, at all times, but during this rising mania I would begin to almost see through to the underworkings of reality
during this rising mania I would begin to almost see through to the underworkings of reality
, the connections between the various life forms and the Earth itself, as if a veil was lifting and I was able to see things as they really are. Eventually we made it back to much less steep terrain, and the peak had definitely ended. But my mind was whirling with so many thoughts and observations. My friend and I chatted in an increasingly animated way. I found myself in a very introspective state, with the content of my thoughts focused on self-improvement. I was identifying, through my thoughts and interactions with others, aspects of my personality I had never noticed before and that I didn't find desirable. There was no shame or discomfort involved in this, it was simply a sudden awareness of something that was happening subconsciously.
As we began to encounter more people, I noticed that I was judging them internally based on factors I would seem to notice about them. One girl walked by and she was extremely unattractive to me for various reasons. I was surprised to notice that I was making all of these little value judgments about her, subconsciously, automatically. These judgments served to repel me from her and see her in a negative way, without ever having met her or given her any sort of chance. Generally these would have been happening on an entirely subconscious level, but because of the state I was in they were happening in my conscious awareness, but still without me having meant to initiate them. It surprised me quite a bit because I would have thought I was past doing that sort of thing... it reminded me of being a kid when you're in school and everyone is constantly judging everyone else in order to make themselves feel more 'normal' or desirable. I shook my head and resolved to be more aware of that in the future and attempt to break that conditioning, and then my friend and I talked about it for a while.
The rest of the hike was more of the same, with the level of intensity gradually lowering until I realized I had no visuals anymore and I felt pretty much sober, but glowing. At last we got back to the car, and I realized I had been entirely successful in my goal of putting the stresses of a potential running out of gas on the way home situation out of my mind and enjoying the trip/hike. But of course it was still an actual situation, so we did have to deal with it. However my mind was in a tremendously better place about it. It had been about 8 hours since I had dosed and I was on the trailing end of it, but I was still feeling that peaceful flow. I told my friend that we just need to think positively and will the result into our lives that we want. So into the car we climbed, filled with positive thoughts about our chances. I looked in the mirror; no more pupil dilation. I took stock of my situation and I felt good about driving, enough time had passed and I was in that afterglow stage, still a little trippy but capable of whatever.
Driving while intoxicated, tripping, or extremely sleep deprived is dangerous and irresponsible because it endangers other people. Don't do it!]
As I turned the car on and began driving, the test to my ability to handle anxiety continued. The gas needle was almost immediately on
the empty indicator. At first I was able to just give it a slight push and immediately put in the clutch and just coast downhill in neutral. But sometimes there was a section of uphill, including one that lasted a few minutes. During those times the anxiety would creep in and I'd start to imagine getting stranded in the dark with no cell service. But then I would push those thoughts out and try to instead imagine making it to a gas station. I felt it was very important for me to visualize the outcome I wanted, so I was diligent in doing so. At last we reached the road we drove in on, which was all downhill for quite some time, and I started coasting. As we got farther down, we started to encounter other cars, and it got less steep, so my average speed was about 25mph in a 35mph zone. I had to wave a few people around me who were probably confused as to why I was sometimes going 40 and sometimes 25 and everywhere in between.
Eventually it got flat enough that I had to give it constant gas. By this point the needle was a good bit below the empty indicator, and my friend's phone (service was back by now) said the nearest gas station was still 10 miles away. I asked my friend how cool it would be if some guerrilla gas station that Google doesn't know about would just appear. About a minute after that, such a gas station did
appear. It blew my mind a little because it looked old and broken down, and instead of a gas company's logo the sign just said 'GAS' in big orange letters, and right around there was when my gas light had come on during the drive in, and neither of us noticed it then. As we pulled into it, laughing and celebrating, I felt the first hiccup of the engine that signifies your gas running out. I bought $30 worth of gas and even though it pumped out at about $2 per minute (ironic given that was the reason why I had passed the initial gas station at the beginning of the trip), I was just filled with the most beautiful, giddy euphoria because I had successfully overcome this stressful issue, and kept my composure the whole time. I didn't have a care in the world anymore!
After that we drove home, where there was a band practice waiting for me. The rest of the night I spent playing music and then hanging out. The band practice was actually a continuing lesson in dealing with stress... I tend to feel the stress from friends acutely because of a high level of empathy, and my friend was intensely frustrated and stressed because one of the band members was super late and not answering our calls, and we ended up getting only about half of what we intended for the night done. It was instructional for me to have to deal with that, and also to try to help him deal with that. After band practice I drank a handful of beers and had a great time in the company of friends I consider family. I discussed my trip with them and we had many interesting discussions about all manner of topics. I slept over there, and in the morning I woke up feeling great, light and content and refreshed.
In conclusion, this was the best and most complete LSD trip I've had to date. The entire thing was a complete storyline, filled with magic, coincidences and lessons. Once I hit the peak, it seemed that every aspect of every experience I was having was perfectly laid out to maximize the learning potential for me. I became aware of aspects of myself that I had never considered before, that I have resolved to become constantly aware of and overcome. It seems to me that this is what life is, a constant process of becoming more intentional and aware. Psychedelics have really been a catalyst for me on this path, especially in the past two years.
The visuals I had were awe-inspiring at times, and very beautiful, and certainly much
stronger than I have ever had from LSD before. And I love about LSD that it almost doesn't feel like I'm on a drug... the trip instead seems to emerge from my surroundings. My state of mind was changed but not in the same way as with tryptamines and phenethylamines. My body and mind felt uninhibited, like I was just seeing things in a new way and not on a drug. The peak really took quite a while to hit, I think it was at about 3.5 to 4 hours in when it peaked and settled in fully.
I really feel like I 'leveled up' with LSD that day, and I understand it much better now than I have in the past. I look forward to future LSD trips, and I hope I can revisit this same state now that I've managed to make it there once.
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