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High Altitude 'Shroomin' / Difficult Trip
Mushrooms - P. cubensis, Alcohol & Hash
by rmm
Citation:   rmm. "High Altitude 'Shroomin' / Difficult Trip: An Experience with Mushrooms - P. cubensis, Alcohol & Hash (exp14652)". Apr 7, 2005.

3.0 g oral Mushrooms - P. cubensis (dried)
  2.0 g smoked Cannabis - Hash (tar / resin)
    inhaled Alcohol - Beer/Wine (liquid)


After reading so many great experiential tales I thought it was time for me to attempt sharing a very unusual (for me) experience on psilocybin mushrooms. A little background: I'm 46 years old and have tripped on DMT, mescaline, peyote, LSD, psilocybin and a few other psychedelics I've forgotten, over the last 32 years. My first trip was on a 'double-barrel' tab of BEL (ie Owsley) Orange Sunshine (via Laguna Beach) early '70s. I was 14 or 15 years old. Hard to believe I did it so young, in retrospect. That first trip was excellent and good and wonderful. As nearly all subsequent trips have been. This report describes one of the exceptions.

I'm originally from Southern California but presently live in Asia which has been home for many years. Every few years I make it back to the US for a visit. The trip I'm about to describe occurred during one of those stateside visits. It was a difficult trip as opposed to a 'bad' trip. And it was the only one like it in all the trips I've taken. My psychedelic drug of choice is LSD. I've taken it hundreds of times -- from very high dose explorations to low and micro doses. My experience with 'shrooms is by comparison very limited. But I've eaten them dozens of times. Admittedly no singular heroic (6+ dried grams per McKenna) doses. So here we go: About 10 years ago I was visiting the States my girlfriend (now wife). During our stay we decided to spend the weekend at a friend's house. We'll call him 'M'. The three of us planned to go to the San Jacinto Mountains (near Palm Springs) to do a day hike and eat some fresh cubensis mushrooms which another good friend of mine grew. The mushroom growing friend was an old pro. His fungi were always clean and good. And these were no exception.

The next day we drove out through the desert from Riverside to the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway. The famous tram takes one from the desert floor to the eastern ridge of the of San Jacinto Mountains. Elevation is 8 to 9,000 feet at the top station and Lodge. By the time we got to the top that day it was already early afternoon. Not too good, since we weren't prepared to stay much longer than sunset. So hurriedly we power hiked over to this lookout area that I know about. Beautiful pristine view from there. A perfect place to get high. Now winded from the hike but with great joy and laughter I break out the 'sacraments'. I had about 6 grams of freshly dried mushrooms (educated guess), a good amount of black hashish and a couple of cold beers. M and I divided up the 'shrooms into two piles and unceremoniously ate them, washing them down with a few sips of beer. Some nice bowls of hash followed. We did all of this within about 20 minutes.

So, here we are, a little out of breath from the hike and the altitude, but we're feeling great for a lot of reasons. We're high on smoke, we haven't seen each other in a long time, and we're sitting in one of the most beautiful places in the world. With the hash buzz, we decide to climb to the top of a small granite rock outcropping and wait for the psilocybin to kick in. I had brought along a favorite toy of mine called a KaleidoSky. The KaleidoSky is a plastic device which that looks like a mask made from a child's sand bucket. It has two holes that you can look out but there's also a disk inside with two holes as well. The way it works is you blow into a tube at the bottom of the mask which spins the disk. This basically causes the holes to be alternately closed or open over each eye. Then you look towards the sun (eyelids closed of course) with the disk spinning and the colors come. Beautiful stuff. (Works with or without drugs incidentally.) I was working with the KaleidoSky for about 15 minutes on top of this rock and then set it down. As I did I almost immediately starting coming on...good and strong. Been there before...I just accepted and continued grooving. No worries. Loving it.

Not much later a group of young folks suddenly appeared at the base of this rock formation which was quite a ways off the public path. They were just exploring the area, but they wanted to climb the same rock we were on. Not a problem with that except we were tripping and we didn't need the distraction or to engage in worldly verbal pleasantries. So slowly we started climbing down to move to another location. The sun was starting to head down now. At that altitude the temperature can drop by ten's of degrees in a very short time. That was happening now. As mentioned, we weren't ready for this. We didn't bring jackets for one thing. Due the temperature change and being somewhat chased out of our 'set and setting' I started feeling unsettled. This surprised me quite a bit. Normally I'm better prepared.

This feeling now became the base note of the trip. As an old veteran of LSD I knew I wasn't _that_ stoned, but I hadn't felt this uncomfortable before. It was a combination of physical discomfort (being cold, shivering), a little paranoia, and other things I couldn't sort out. I started to worry. Another factor was my girlfriend. She's Chinese and this was only our second trip to the US. Her English was so-so and she didn't really understand what the mushrooms were all about, she didn't know where we were and how to get back to tram. Fortunately she hadn't joined us in partaking of the 'god flesh'. So I started worrying about her and feeling a little guilty about the situation we were in. Worried too, maybe, I'd get nailed for being inebriated in public (on an illegal substance) and that she would be really helpless and a whole ocean away from home. Worried that she was worrying about me. Interestingly I know how these negative thought loops work. I've been in them and gotten out of them. It comes with the territory... but this time the scales were tipping a bit. In fact I was in new territory.

In the meantime, my friend M seemed to be enjoying his trip. He weighs about 185 pounds (me: 130). So perhaps his larger 'meat buffer' was the explanation since we ate the same amount. It was now about 5:30PM and I was thinking we need to make it back to the tram because it was only going to get colder. We didn't even bring water...just the amber brew (beer). Not very smart. The thought of walking up the long switch-back stairs didn't sit well with me. The typical paranoia of being psychedelic in public places around people who aren't. The feeling was strong. So we just hung back in the adjoining woods awhile, hoping time would help bring me down. As it got darker and colder I knew we had to make a move and thus we started back up towards the tram about 6:30PM or so. The walk up wasn't too bad. There were just a few people, mostly going back up to the tram. As usual most of my fear was unfounded; something I have learned many times before...but somehow forgot once again. Finally we made it to the Lodge, but I continued to feel very uneasy. There was no way I could handle getting into the tram, which hold 50 or so people, for the 14 minute ride down. I was just too stoned. I looked it and felt it.

The tram made a trip every 17 minutes or so and it didn't close until 9 or 10PM so we had time to hang out in the large Lodge. I thought having a cup of coffee would be a good idea. So I walked over to the cafeteria line with my girlfriend to get some coffee. It was taking everything I had to keep my concentration on the simple task at hand. I was shaky and feeling very vulnerable. Fortunately there was no one in the line and I was able to get the cup of coffee, but then I started feeling dizzy....and I had to sit down fast...but I hadn't paid for the coffee yet. I reached into my pocket for some change to give to my girlfriend to pay the lady but then realized she didn't know the difference between the US coins! I just tossed a bunch of change onto the counter and asked the lady to help pick out whatever the cost was and to give the change back to my girlfriend. I retreated to a nearby table with my coffee.

Then I sat down and one of the strangest things happened...I seemed to have passed out...but I didn't fall out of my chair. Just went absolutely blank for a brief time...and during that time I had some sort of dream which I've forgotten now. It was very much like taking a giant hit of N2O or a mild toke of a DMT pipe. But then I came around a bit...and I started sipping my cup of coffee which was good. My friend M was obviously very stoned too, but he was doing OK. I kept asking him over and over: 'Are you as stoned as I am?' This was somewhat an embarrassing and absurd question for me to ask. I've been out there far beyond this before. I've been rendered incapable of speech or physical movement on strong doses of LSD. But there it was. Like there was an answer to this. He would reply, 'I'm stoned, but apparently not as stoned as you are.' Then I'd ask him again a few moments later. Same answer. In the meantime the trams kept coming and going. They would announce it over the loud speaker. I kept hoping I could take the next a tram would arrive...I would think, 'Am I able?'...and then I'd say...'I'll wait for the next one.'

Finally after a couple of hours (actually time frames are fuzzy) I felt I could handle it. My friend M and my girlfriend braced me by holding my arms and walking me into the tram in such a way that it didn't look like they were really helping me that much. I was in. The tram then started heading down and as it did, the city of Palm Springs started spreading out before me and it was utterly beautiful. A diamond city of a million lights and teeming with energy and life. It was wonderful...and I started feeling incredibly better. It also seemed like the drop in altitude was making me feel good... Then we made it to the parking lot. I was completely disoriented but relieved. Funny, I couldn't remember where I parked the rental car. In fact I couldn't remember what color it was or kind of car of it was...but we eventually found it. I asked M if he could drive...because I certainly could not. He said sure, no problem. So down the hill we went, back to M's house in Riverside where we could do some serious chillin' and spend the night. There was water in the car and I was drinking it with a passion...every moment that went by I felt better and better.

On the way back on the highway, M was driving rather slow (understandable). I was in the front seat with the back all the way down...when a California Highway Patrol slides up along side of us and gave us a serious looking over...but then he rolled on. That was nice. Once we got to M's house, a couple-hour drive from the Tram, I was nearly completely down. I felt good, safe, and whole...but still in light shock from how bad I had felt on the mountain... Since then I haven't had the opportunity to do any 'shrooms...but I would under the right circumstance. There have been, though, many LSD trips since then. All good.

Notes/Lessons: Over the intervening years I've looked over the situation to assess the mistakes and problems of this difficult trip. I broke almost all my own rules on this trip thinking my experience could cover it. It didn't. There were most likely a number of causes to bring about the effect. Potentially among them are:

1. I had just flown in from Asia. Besides the jet lag and time-zone influences...there's also the spin of being in a different country, even though the US is my home country. Acclimation.

2. Where I live in Asia is extremely humid. Extremely. Suddenly here I am in a California desert and high mountain environment. Near zero humidity. So DEHYDRATION was one of the major factors. Drinking alcohol just dehydrated me more. Nice one.

3. High altitude and exertion. The altitude definitely had some effect as did the power hiking...I was not tuned up for it physically. Acclimation.

4. Temperature: This is probably the number one factor in changing the direction of trips for me. Too hot and too cold and having no effective way to alter the condition can both deeply influence a trip...but I've found getting a chill to almost always start spinning things in a less-than-positive way. If we had just brought some jackets or a blanket it would've have helped a lot.

5. The one thing we did do right is go to the mountains for tripping. The moral of the story is same moral over and over again: SET and SETTING and, [PREPARATION].
Set: One's mind set
Setting: the physical environment in which you will trip [Preparation: preparation of the Setting]

Cruising around in cars on mind altering drugs, for example, is demonstrably one of the least empowering settings and therefore also one of the leading causes of a real bummer! Wheels present too many variables for trippers methinks; as do the officials responsible for monitoring the avenues on which those wheels spin. If you choose to go out of your mind, you can take full advantage of the situation and do a little preparation in terms of place, people, time frame, and supplies on hand (music, food, drink, toys, books, survival gear). Prepare like an Eagle Scout. Be Careful, and Be of Good Cheer.

Exp Year: 1992ExpID: 14652
Gender: Male 
Age at time of experience: Not Given 
Published: Apr 7, 2005Views: 14,732
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Mushrooms - P. cubensis (66) : Small Group (2-9) (17), Personal Preparation (45), Nature / Outdoors (23), Difficult Experiences (5)

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