Mushrooms - P. cubensis
Citation: Swami. "Mush Ado About Nothing: An Experience with Mushrooms - P. cubensis (exp66519)". Erowid.org. Dec 12, 2018. erowid.org/exp/66519
WINNIPEG FOLK FESTIVAL 2005
We stepped foot on the campground at about 7:00am. Once we reached the end of Trailhead 1 we paused for a quick moment and looked out at what was before us. During this time, Dick took a deep breath in, smiled, and exclaimed 'Ah! Folk Fest!' This was my first time attending this crazy festival, and after only the first 10 seconds I knew I was in for one Hell of a memorable weekend. We had driven all night long to get here as early as possible. Who were 'we', you ask? Well, we were a strange mix of individuals with loose connections to one another.
There was, of course, me. Next, we had Dick. Dick had worked as a cook at Strawberry's before I was hired there in July 2002. Dick owned The Melvin House, which is a house notorious for its parties and its interesting blend of visitors. It was the kind of house you could just show up to at any time of day and, as long as you knew someone there and you weren't terribly annoying, you were welcome to stay for a few drinks or hit of weed. You could even stay for supper, as long as you did your fair share of the cleanup afterward. The general rule was that you respect the privacy of those who lived there, you take out what you bring in, and you respect the property. Anyone who could abide by these rules and who didn't overstay their welcome could drop by during any reasonable hour of the day and just relax with whoever else was there. This system worked better than you might think. Everyone got along, and nobody got the place into any trouble. This paved the way for some monumentally successful parties around New Year's and July 1st.
Also part of the Folk Fest crew that year was Bev, whom I'd worked with quite frequently at the 'berry. And, finally, there was Tedray. Tedray was by far the standout member of our group. While Dick, Bev, and myself were all within a year of each other in our early-to-mid twenties, Tedray was 50-something. He was also a Caribbean immigrant. Blacker than the dead of night. His long black hair was quickly going gray. He wore it in loose dreadlocks that hung almost to the ground. He spoke with an extremely thick reggae-type accent. He not only stood out among our group of four - he stood out among everyone at the festival. On top of it all, he was by far the most outgoing and social of us all. This was a blessing. In large part thanks to Tedray, our small group of tents became the centre of attention on Friday night. I'll get to that...
Getting to Folk Fest was a bit of a fluke in itself. First of all, as late as Thursday afternoon, we didn't have our tickets, which had already been paid for and were supposed to have arrived. The plan was to leave The Melvin House after Dick got off work Thursday, drive overnight and pitch our tents bright and early Friday morning before the Sun came up and scorched us. I got to The Melvin House sometime in the afternoon on Thursday and sat around in the living room chatting with a few others about the upcoming weekend. Some of them had gone previous years, and they all had positive things to say about their experiences. I was getting psyched just thinking about it. Dick showed up after not too long and asked if Paco had shown up with the tickets yet. Paco's real name is Anthony (I'm not sure why everyone calls him Paco), and he was a cook at Strawberry's. We had all given him our money for the festival and camping passes with the understanding that he would put it all on his credit card. Paco didn't plan to go that year, but for some reason it was easiest to have him buy the tickets. Maybe he had a Ticketmaster account or something. I'm not sure. Well, Paco had not shown up, and repeated calls to his cellphone had gone unanswered. Dick starts to worry. I held my cool, figuring everything would sort itself out. A few hours later, maybe around 9:00pm or so, Bev shows up at The Melvin House. 'Can anyone get ahold of Paco?' To relieve the tension that was quickly building up, we all sat down and passed around a few joints. It was approaching 10:00pm now, and we were dreading having to either postpone the festival by a day, or worse yet, a year. Soon enough, lights flood into the living room. Paco's white car pulls into the driveway! There is much rejoicing, although we did give him shit for not answering his cell. Nonetheless, he takes out his wallet and distributes the tickets to Bev, Dick, and myself. 'Alright, Benson, Bev, pack your shit up, we need to collect the black man, and then we're off.' says Dick after a huge sigh of relief.
After organizing all of our stuff in the back of Bev's very small car we went and grabbed Tedray. We definitely could have used a bigger vehicle. Tedray and I were in the back, each having to hold at least two backpacks full of gear on our laps. Now, we had brought along a fair amount of mary jane under the assumption (the very wrong assumption) that it might be difficult to find any once we got to the Fest. We had an 8-hour drive ahead of us, so somewhere around Kakabeka Falls we decided to put some in a pipe, throw on some Tragically Hip, and get in the zone for awhile. We couldn't have picked a worse time to do this. After the pipe had made its way around the circle twice, we turned a corner on the road. And that's when we saw the lights. About 500 meters ahead of us was a RIDE program. Immediately, the sunroof was opened, all the windows were rolled down, Visine was passed out. The bag of weed was quickly hidden in the dashboard (a very obvious location, in retrospect). 'Looks like no Folk Fest this year,' said Dick. We argued. 'Let's just keep everything cool, do whatever the cop asks, don't debate anything with him. Let's be straight about this. Just keep it level.' Bev was driving, so we agreed not to say a word. We would let him do the talking.
'Good evening, guys. Any of you been drinking tonight?'
'No, sir, officer. Haven't had any tonight.'
'Where are you boys headed to? Looks like you're going camping.'
'Yeah, we're heading to the Folk Festival in Winnipeg.'
And then the Rastafarian speaks up out of nowhere.
'Jah, maun! Gonna mek some myoozik drummin' on some pig skin, donch'know!'
'Oh yeah?' said the cop. 'Do a little drumming. Smoke a little reefer. It stinks like Hell in this car, boys. Let's see the dope.'
Well, that was it, I thought. We were going to get charged with possession, driven to the nearest station, our parents called, and worst of all, we were going to miss Folk Fest. After a bit of hesitation, Bev eventually gave up the bag of weed and the pipe to the officer. He apologized on behalf of us all and admitted that we'd done something stupid. None of us had breasts (Dick had small ones), so we had no way of getting out of this. We were all told to get out of the car and stand on the side of the road while the vehicle was searched. Another officer came around and asked us for our wallets so he could jot down some of our credentials. We very eagerly gave them up, hoping that our 100% cooperation would help get us off the hook. But how? We were already caught. After a few minutes, the officer came back over to us and asked Tedray to follow him. We watched Tedray being brought to a cruiser and before we knew it he was being handcuffed and put in the back seat. WAIT A SECOND! Was this actually happening??? Were they scapegoating the black guy? Bev had admitted to the officer that it was his own weed. Why were they taking Tedray away? I had to speak up.
'Excuse me, officer. That wasn't his bag of dope. The officer who stopped us already knows this.'
'Your friend has an outstanding unpaid fine for an unrelated incident. We're just talking to him.'
About 10 minutes later, we were told to get back in our car. The three of us, anyway. So, we did. The officer that first stopped us came back to the car a few minutes later.
'Alright, the car looks clean and so does all your stuff. Except, which one of you is John?'
'...uh, that's me, officer.'
'I found a film cap with some pills in your backpack. Want to tell me what those are about?'
I thought for a second. What was he talking about? Did he get my bag mixed up with someone else's? I didn't have any pills. Oh, yes I did! But they were nothing illegal.
'To be honest, officer, I'm not exactly sure what those are. I found that film cap a few days ago at work in the break room. I had meant to turn them in to the front desk, but I forgot to. I think they're someone's medication. I really have no use for them, though. If you need to take them, that's fine.'
He was happy that I answered honestly.
'Alright, that's fine. Look, you boys know that marijuana is illegal. I don't have to tell you that. It may be legal someday, but it's not yet. And, until it is, I don't want to see you guys with any of it. We're taking the dope and your pipe. None of you have any criminal history, so I'll consider this a one-time offense. I'm going to let you go to your festival, but this is being noted in the books. Next time, we're not going to be so forgiving. Have a good weekend, gentlemen.'
The officer left us alone and within seconds, Tedray was opening the door and getting back in the car. We started down the road and Dick asked the obvious question:
'Tedray, man. How did you convince them to let you go?'
'Because I'm a maun of da world, Dickery. I know tings you won't eva know, maun. Don't ask a black maun a stupid question li' dat. Let's get to dis festivool so I ken start drummin'!'
Classic Tedray :) And, with that, we were off!
As previously stated, we arrived onsite around 7:00am Friday morning. The sky was one huge gray cloud. Everything was wet. There was a nice cool breeze blowing, which was wonderful to step into after spending the last 8 hours in a small car with three other men and 20 pounds of camping equipment on your lap. We began to make our way through the maze of tents in search of an area big enough to pitch four of our own. We had a couple options on where we could do this. Ideally, we were looking for a fire pit, if possible. We also wanted to be not too far from a shower or a water tap. We wanted to be out of the way of the rows of toilets, out of the main flow of traffic near the trailheads. In short, we wanted to be pretty much centralized so that we weren't too far from the action, no matter where the action happened to manifest itself over the following days and nights. As we were walking around in search of the ideal spot, we were approached by a hippie with red dreadlocks and a large beard.
'You guys just getting here?'
'Yeah. It must have rained last night, eh?' asked Dick.
'Yep. There was a pretty good storm. Nice electrical show from Mother Nature. You guys would have loved it.' said the hippie. 'My name is Heart.'
We introduced ourselves. Tedray joked that his dreadlocks were longer than Heart's. We talked for a bit, and inevitably mentioned our close call on the way to the festival.
'That sucks about your weed, man. But, good on you for making it here. If you're looking for anything, just come find me. I'm the tent with the Canadian flag above it over in Campsite 3.'
'What exactly do you have to offer?' asked Dick.
'Well, I can sell you some pot since the cops are getting high off yours. It's from BC, so it's pretty good. Also, if you're into it, I've got mushroom brownies. There's about a gram in each brownie.'
'We'll come see you about the brownies later, but do you think we could pick up some weed right now?'
And with that, we had our connection for the weekend.
We walked past the first lining of trees that separates Campsite 1 from Campsite 2. There was an incredibly large open space that nobody had yet occupied, and it had a fire pit right in the centre. Our first instinct was to set up there, but I suggested against it. Upon closer inspection, we noticed that there was a very large circle of white boulders separated by about 3 feet each, bordering this wide open area. We concluded that this area was being reserved for some sort of activity. So, we parked our gear a few feet outside of the circle. Whatever was going to take place here, we would have front row seats :) Predictably, we rolled up a joint with the stuff we'd bought from Heart. As the Sun started to shine brighter and hotter, I began to notice more and more people walking around the campsite. I took a walk around, just to explore, and I was absolutely shocked at the amount of people there were! There was barely enough space to walk between the tents without tripping on the cords helping to peg them down! Once nighttime hit, I didn't know how the Hell I was going to find my way around. I was having trouble figuring it out in pure daylight! I figured that the wide open area would be a fairly good indicator of where I was, so I didn't spend much time worrying about this problem. Several of the tents had homemade flags or decorations flying above them or pegged into the ground beside them. I tried to picture how this whole place would look lit up once nightfall came. Let me say, the picture I had in my mind was NOTHING close to what it's actually like.
I should try to give a bit of a description on the layout of Folk Fest. This can be hard to explain without drawing a picture, but I'll try my best. For the sake of this description, assume that once you actually enter the campground itself from any of the trailheads you are facing north. Directly to your north is the main camping area. If you've just entered from Trailhead 1, then the whole campground is to the right of you. Trailheads 2a and 2b bring you closer to the middle of the camping area, so you would have tents to both your left and right if you entered from there. Further to the right are more Trailheads (3 and 4) with still more camping ground in front of you. Most of the loud, crazy parties (and the bulk of the people) camp in the areas directly north of Trailheads 1, 2a, 2b, and 3. A little further to the right you'll hit Trailheads 5 and 6. These are considered separate from the main campgrounds and they have a different feel to them. One of them is generally filled with tipis. I'm not sure what goes on there. Another smaller area in the far right is where you'd find your RV people. If you wish to bring your RV and camp in it, you can, but you have to go to this specific area. Frankly, I can't see why anyone would want to RV instead of tent it. WAY down the road a few kilometers you'll find the Quiet Campground. This one is entirely separate from everything else, and is for families who have small children or who want to actually sleep at night. The main campground area is separated not so much by which Trailhead leads to it, but by rows of trees. For example, if you're in Campground 1 and you want to get to Campground 2, then you follow a small path through a single row of trees. Trailhead 2a is not a path to Campground 2. It kinda leads between 1 and 2.
Assuming we're back at the entrance to Campground 1 after walking through Trailhead 1. To your direct left is the campground exit, which is basically a pathway leading to the street. If you follow this pathway to the street and cross the street, you are on your way to entering the actual festival grounds. You first go through another shaded path which leads you to festival parking. At night multicoloured lanterns light up this path and others, creating an absolutely stunning effect. Once you hit the parking area, you turn directly to your right and eventually get to the path that leads to the Handmade Village and the 5 stages. In this area you can watch tons of musical performers, buy CDs at the Folk Music Store, buy all kinds of food and drink from a variety of multicultural vendors. The Village is made up of vendors of clothing, art, jewelry, and other types of goods.
Again, let's assume we're back at the entrance to Campground 1 to reorient ourselves for the next description. Behind you (following the Trailhead back to its start) you'll find the most convenient parking area. You have to get here very early if you want to score one of these spots. Otherwise, you're lugging your gear at least 3K to the overflow parking area, which is not fun in 40-degree Celsius weather. Also in this area is a place you're guaranteed to see at least a few times over the weekend - the supply store. Here you can buy firewood, ice, glow sticks, matches, lighters, rope, first aid supplies. Anything you could reasonably expect to need can be purchased here. A bit beyond the store is where you would initially show your tickets and get your Folk Fest bracelet.
Entering Campground 1 again. As stated before, directly in front of you is Campground 1, and further to the right Campgrounds 2 and 3 which make up the bulk of the party zone. However, if you go to Campground 2 and then travel through the campground to your north, you will eventually reach Pope's Hill. It is called Pope's Hill because back in the 1980s Pope John Paul II came and delivered a speech of sorts at the top of the hill to a slew of spectators. This is a massive area downhill from the campgrounds. Once you're at the base of Pope's Hill, you're in a wide open area about the size of a football field. Surrounding this are grassy hills leading upward. Pope's Hill is where the magic happens on Saturday night. There is usually a fairly large drum circle at the top of the hill on Friday, where several hundred people go to party, but this is NOTHING compared to Saturday. Pope's Hill has changed the lives of many people, including myself.
Sporadically placed throughout the campgrounds are water taps and showers. These aren't organized in any way. They're just sort of randomly found as you go walking. They just stick out of the ground. The only problem is that the showers have no hot tap. It's just cold water. You would think that this is good since you're sweating bullets all day, but the water is VERY cold. Cold enough to numb you after a second or two. In fact, it's unbearably cold. People generally don't shower because of this. This suits most people fine though, the majority of the campers being dirty, filthy hippies anyway. I mean that endearingly.
For most of the day, the four of us stuck together, exploring the campgrounds, heading to the festival site itself to check out the Handmade Village and some of the musical acts. We didn't hang around down there for too long, partly because none of the music that was playing at the time really interested us too much, and the whole Village area was one big mud pit after last night's storm. This suited me fine, though. I was perfectly content hanging around the campsite just walking around meeting groups of people. At the beginning, I was a bit weary to leave all my stuff at my tent while we wandered, fearing it could get stolen. Dick was very quick to inform otherwise:
'John, I don't think you quite get it yet. You will as time goes on, but you're new to this. You're at Folk Fest. The concept of theft and robbery does not exist at this place. Look around you. There are vacant tents all around, and people's stuff just sitting there. Look over there.'
I looked. He was pointing to a set of three tents with apparently nobody in them. In plain sight, there was a huge bag of weed, several unopened liquor bottles, two wallets, and a very large glass bong.
Dick continued: 'See that? God knows how long that's been sitting there unattended. In Thunder Bay, if you saw this in someone's front yard, you couldn't walk around the block once without it going missing. But here? This is Bird's Hill Park. This is Folk Fest. There's a spirit that lives here that doesn't live in Thunder Bay. It's a spirit of respect and love. Everyone you see here is your brother or sister. Leave your shit at your tent. I PROMISE you it will still be there when you get back.'
Wow. I didn't know what to say. I hadn't heard Dick talk like that before, but I believed him. I looked around. People had left stuff everywhere, and nobody looked even the least bit suspicious like they were planning to steal anything. He was right. The type of attitude you get from day-to-day people in Thunder Bay didn't exist here. Everywhere you looked, people were drumming on djembes or strumming along to a classic Beatles tune as a pipe got passed around their circle.
'Happy Folk Fest!' Dick exclaimed to a beautiful dreadlocked girl as she walked by us.
'Happy Folk Fest!' she replied as she smiled and waved us the peace sign.
As we continued to walk around exploring, we passed several showers where people were showering completely naked, right out in the open.
'Oh my God! Dick! People are really free here!'
'Like I said, you're at Folk Fest. It's a totally different world out here.'
I think I was starting to get 'it'.
Around mid-afternoon we made our way back to our campsite. Sure enough, everything was still there. Dick rolled up another joint and Tedray brought out his two drums. I took one of them, and the two of us started to jam. Before too long, Tedray decided to get a bit of sleep before nightfall. The rest of us got a couple hours in too. We had driven all night and we'd been out in the Sun all day. We wanted to be ready for a night of craziness.
As the Sun was starting to drop below the horizon, we all woke up except for Tedray. We just sat in our fold-out chairs relaxing for a bit. Doing absolutely nothing can be extremely tiring under the right circumstances. Naturally, we passed around another joint. We smoke a fair amount of pot at Folk Fest. It just sorta happens. And, it's perfectly fitting with the environment you're in. As we were passing around this joint, a man around our age came by and invited himself to sit down with us. We appreciated the company and told him to take a seat. We let him finish off our joint and struck up a bit of a conversation with him. After a short while, he offered to bring over his hookah and share some shisha with us. Shisha is actually another word for 'hookah', but in this case he was referring to a brand of flavoured tobacco. He brought over this enormous hookah. By this time the Sun was nearly gone, and the sky had taken on a dark turquoise colour. I was unfamiliar with hookahs and shisha, so I asked for a bit of direction before using it. He explained about how the ember on top indirectly heats the material you're inhaling, and that you simply suck the smoke through the end of one of the hoses attached to it. He explained that what we were smoking was not necessarily psychoactive, but had a nice fruity flavour to it. Indeed it did! As we each took our turns with the shisha we each individually commented that it was berry-like, and very pleasant. The hookah made its way around the circle once or twice before Tedray woke up and joined us.
By this time, people were beginning to put up tiki torches around their campsites. We did the same, and we invited our new friend to come by with his own drum so we could start up a circle. And, so the night began! I borrowed one of Tedray's drums, and the two of us started up a fresh jam session. There were other drum circles you could hear in the distance, but ours sounded a bit more organized. Tedray was a seasoned hand drummer, and I have been obsessively drumming on any surface available to me since childhood. We synced up quite nicely with one another, and the transitions we made were easily followed by one another. Soon enough, a group of three people came over with their own drums and chairs, and they sat down and joined us. Then two more people. Then a few people showed up with wind instruments. Then more people. I noticed the sound getting louder around me, but I mainly focused my attention on keeping up the pace. An overwhelming smell of marijuana filled the area, and the sound got louder and louder. After maybe an hour or so I finally looked up. What I saw blew my mind. Surrounding us was a huge wall of people, dancing, drinking, drumming, howling. We were suddenly in the centre of people about 15 rows deep. There must have been 200 bodies dancing around our campsite. Minimum. I looked over at Bev, and he just nodded back in my direction. Wow! And then came Tedray's cry:
'EVERYBODY! WE'RE MOVING DIS SHIT TO DA FIRE PIT!!!!!!!!!!'
Without missing a single beat, Tedray stood up and drummed his way to the centre of the pit we'd set up our tents by. We all followed him. The circle only grew bigger. The energy was unstoppable. After another hour or so, I noticed streaks of blood on the drum I was using. My fingers were splitting open, but it didn't matter. I just kept drumming. The entourage had grown to at least 500 people by 3:00am. I finally passed the drum onto someone else, found my way to my tent, and crashed. I would have loved to stay up and keep it going, but I had barely any energy left in me to crawl out of the circle. I had never felt so alive in my life! I fell asleep to the relentless, ever-changing sound of 50 or so drums being battered all at once, the howling of hundreds of people, and the barely audible conversations of those on the outskirts of the circle. So, THIS was Folk Fest! If this was Friday, I couldn't imagine what I was in for on Saturday! Periodically throughout the night I would awaken to the ongoing sound. There was illumination on the roof of my tent. The Sun was coming back out! It was 5:00am. I unzipped my tent and looked in the direction of the fire pit. The crowd had lessened, but there were still probably 100 people or so dancing. And Tedray in the middle, unmoved from the position he was in since he got there. What a trooper :)
I awoke again several hours later because I was overheating in my tent. There comes a point in the day at Folk Fest where sleep is no longer an option. Not that you wouldn't LIKE to sleep, but you can't. Once that Sun crests over the treeline, your tent is no longer a tent. It's an oven. I stepped out of my tent and saw a topless lady sprawled out on the grass and a pair of black hands massaging her back. I said nothing. Neither did Bev, who had just woken up. Instead, the two of us silently took off on a walk.
'So, what do you think so far?'
'Oh my God, Bev. I had no idea. And tonight's going to be even better?'
'Oh yeah! You won't be the same guy tomorrow morning. Kiss yourself goodbye. Saturday night at Folk Fest is a reinvention.'
'So, what's the game plan for the rest of today?'
'We have to go on a shroom hunt.'
'We're doing mushrooms tonight?'
'Yes we are. We need to go find Heart.'
And, so off we went to find Heart and his magical brownies. But, Heart was nowhere to be found. There was no tent with a Canadian flag flying above it. At least, not in Campground 3 like we had been told. A couple shouts of 'Heart!' yielded no response. Bev and I continued walking regardless. We made our way back to our campsite in a short time and noticed that there was a lot of garbage strewn around the firepit. Dick was still asleep, and Tedray was occupied, so we grabbed a garbage bag and started cleaning up what was arguably our mess since our group had given birth to that party last night. We were joined by a couple proactive campers who we later played a bit of frisbee with.
'Hell of a night, eh guys?'
'Hey Dick! Good morning to you.'
Quickly, the conversation turned to mushrooms. Bev and I explained that our knight in shining armour was MIA. After a bit of deliberation, Dick and I concluded that we would go on a hunt and find some from another source. First, we would go throw all the empty bottles and cans in the recycle and dispose of any trash. And, we definitely wouldn't be embarking on a shroom hunt on an empty stomach. By this time, Tedray's mystery girl had left, so we went back to our site and started to cook up some breakfast.
'Who was that girl, Ted?'
'Wheech girl? Oh, da one I was wit dis marnin', maun? She's some baby's mudder.'
Dick shook his head. 'Only Tedray...'
We ate breakfast, and discussed the mushroom situation. There were some unknowns. Who was paying for them? Were we all pitching in immediately, or were we going to square up later? How much did everyone intend to do? Were we just going to take a threshold amount, or were we going to let completely loose tonight? How were we going to find them? Would we just ask everybody at random? How could we ensure the quality of the product we were buying? We figured that we were at Folk Fest, so we might as well make this a night to remember. Dick and I would be the hunters. We would seek out 16 grams which we would split equally into 4 grams for each of us. This would ensure a pretty intense trip. If we had second thoughts about how much we wanted to do at the time of consumption, we could put some of them in tinfoil and carry them around with us in case we built up the nerve later on in the night. We would all pitch in some cash. Okay, it was decided. We knew we had to start searching soon, or else one of two things would happen: Either we would simply run out of time, or the people out there selling shrooms would run out of stock, leaving us to have a relatively uneventful Saturday night. The prospect of this happening was enough to get us moving.
Dick and I said our 'Happy Folk Fest's to everyone we passed and diligently asked around for where we could find some mushrooms. We circled the grounds once before we got some direction.
'You guys are looking for mushrooms? You wanna head to the trees separating Campgrounds 2 and 3. Go into these trees. There's about 3 tents under a big blue tarp. We picked up some there yesterday. Hopefully they've still got some left.'
We thanked the random shirtless man and headed to find this landmark tarp. We found it, but there was nobody there.
'Shit. I guess we'll have to come back later. Oh well, at least we know where to go. It's just a matter of catching them at their site.' I said.
'We should keep looking around though,' said Dick. 'We might find some at another site. We can't limit ourselves to just one place. If they don't show up, we're fucked.'
'True. We've gotta pitch in the trees next year. Look at the shade these guys have!'
Dick and I started to leave the site, but were stopped by a voice.
'Who are you guys looking for?' The voice came from inside one of the tents under the tarp!
'You, I think. A little bird told us we could find mush here.'
'Well, happy Folk Fest, gentlemen. How much are you looking for?'
'Sixteen grams, if you can manage.'
Two minutes and one transaction later, we had our entheogenic fungus. And, they were beautiful. Dry, crisp, plentiful, blueing stems, a fair amount of shake at the bottom of the bag. This was Cubensis at its finest! Of course, for the first few minutes after returning to base we played it up as if the hunt had been unsuccessful.
'Sorry guys, it's a no-go on the mushrooms. We asked everyone, but nobody has any.'
'Well, what the fuck? It's gonna be sunset in about 4 hours. We have to get some!'
'We can't! Look, we've just been through the whole campground, and it's dry! I'm sorry guys, we tried. You're welcome to go looking yourself.'
'Well, give me my money back then and I'll go looking.'
'Uh, I'm afraid you can't have your money back.'
'Because we spent it on this beautiful bag of mushrooms!!!'
The mushrooms were placed in my tent, under my pillow to shelter them from the sunlight. Bev and I figured it would be a good idea to go take a shower before night hit. We did the best we could to wash up using the ice cold water from the showers. More or less, we only managed to clean our arms and legs. A hair washing was out of the question. When we got back, Dick went and had his shower. Tedray was nowhere in sight. Bev and I decided to sleep for a few hours, if possible. The night air was starting to blow across the field of neverending tents, which helped cool us down. Sleep came easily, especially with the anticipation of what was to come.
Nearing 11:30pm we had all reawoken and were readying ourselves for the mushroom trip. Whenever I had done mushrooms, there was always a brief period before eating them in which I got anxious. I only had about 4 mushroom trips under my belt at this point, and they had always treated me kindly. Nonetheless, despite the expectation of a good trip, and a positive attitude going into it, there were butterflies in the stomach. Nothing unmanageable. I was about to consume 4 grams of the stuff, which would be the largest quantity I'd taken to date. But, I knew that I would be experiencing something out of this world. I was positive about it. Bev had explained Saturday night to me several times before, and with great enthusiasm. But time had run out to ponder how it would be. All that was left to do was to actually eat them down and let them do their job. I joint was sparked, but I opted out of it. I didn't want to also be high on pot. I just wanted to zoom. This was my preference. I wanted a pure trip.
Dick opened the Ziplock bag and began to distribute the little guys equally into four piles on a paper plate. During this time, I uncorked a bottle of Merlot which we used for washing the mushrooms down. The idea was not to get drunk, or even buzzed. Small sips. Just enough to alter the taste of the mushrooms and to provide some liquid to help these dry little boys down. I poured everyone a bit of the wine. We had purchased coloured plastic wine glasses for the occasion.
'Alright guys. Grab a pile.' Dick said.
We each took our share of the drug and placed our piles on separate plates.
'Happy Folk Fest, guys.'
And with that, we started on our psychoactive meal. The wine sure helped the flavour! Looking around the circle, you'd see us each scrunch up our faces in disgust and quickly take a sip to prevent gagging. For a moment, I considered bringing some of them with me, but I decided against it. All 4 grams were down the hatch within about 3 minutes. We all smiled, knowing that we were in for a journey in just a short while.
'You guys are pretty decent for white boys, you know dat? Even you, Dickery!' Tedray said with a loud laugh. This got us all laughing.
'I'm going to go grab some water before these things hit. Once we're on the hill, we're not gonna want to leave for anything,' said Bev.
'That sounds like a good idea. I'll come with you,' I said.
So, Bev and I grabbed our empty water bottles and took off into the darkness to find a water tap. As we were walking, we were passed by many people, all heading in the direction of Pope's Hill. Many of them had glow sticks either in their hands, or attached to themselves in some way or another. Some of the designs people had come up with were pretty impressive! There were people who had made themselves look like glowing skeletons, or people glowing entirely red, blue, or green. Some people were wearing flashing LEDs or chaser lights.
'Happy Folk Fest!' we exclaimed to everyone we passed. 'See you at the hill!'
We found a water tap, and there was a small line-up. The mushrooms hadn't hit yet, but I had to thank Dave for convincing me to go to Folk Fest. Someone commented:
'Is this your first time, dude?'
'This is number 6 for me. I'll never miss a Folk Fest. You're gonna love the hill, man.'
'That's what I hear.'
We filled our bottles and headed back to the campsite to collect our friends. Dick and Tedray were both still there. Ted had started drumming, and Dick was laying back in his chair.
'Dick, you cool?'
'Yeah. It's starting.'
'Yeah...' he said lightly and cracked a smile.
We sat down for a few minutes and waited for us to each feel the onset of the shrooms. It didn't take long. I noticed my eyes beginning to water a bit. My jaw was tensing up, and I was getting the classic mushroom yawns. I looked over at Bev. He was just smiling and slowly shifting his view from one patch of nothing to the next, looking mildly perplexed. I clenched my hands into fists and released them, which felt oddly pleasant. The yawns were getting stronger.
'How long has it been, guys?' I asked.
'Half an hour?' Dick guessed.
'Because.....' I started, but couldn't figure out what I was trying to say. 'What did I just.....' I laughed. 'Guys! Haha! It's....'
The rest of them laughed. I grabbed my wine glass and finished the last sip. A little dribbled out the side of my mouth. This was hysterical!
'Fuck you, Dickery.'
Hilarious! We all laughed. The smile on my face was permanent. People were walking by our campsite, but I only saw lights. Moving lights. I shivered, though I wasn't cold. I could feel the psilocybin coursing through me, taking over. I leaned back in my chair and almost tipped it over. The light from our tiki torches allowed me to see my hands, which were breathing at me. Our energy was being drained from us.
'Gueeeeeuuuu.....fffffff. Happy Folk Fest!' I managed to let out. Four grams comes on strong!
'Alright, fuck this. Get up, get up, get up! To the hill, gentlemen!' said Bev with a burst of energy.
'Whaaaa, youuuuuuuu! Oh, man!' Dick tried to speak.
That was convincing enough. People were filing past our campsite by the hundreds. It must have been midnight. I was taking enormous, audible breaths. Each exhale was the sound of letting go. We finally managed to get up off our asses and head in the direction of Pope's Hill. Somewhere along the line, we lost Tedray. It didn't matter. He would do his own thing. That's who Tedray was. In the morning, we'd catch up with him and hear all about it. But when we approached Pope's Hill.......OH! MY! GOD! We just stood in awe. Ahead of us was somewhere in the vicinity of 7,000 to 10,000 people. At least, that's what I assumed they were. My entire field of vision was taken up by millions of glowing lights. UFOs were flying through the sky, grinning at me. Skeletons and robots made up of every colour I'd ever seen were walking and crawling along the ground. Bright neon flowers were twirling across the sky. Balls of light were tumbling down the sides of the hill. The sound was like nothing I'd ever heard before. I could hear every single person individually, but all at once. I could hear cries of joy, drumming from all directions, hollering, howling, invisible orchestras. The sky went from black to blue to green, and back to black. Behind us, the people just kept gaining in number, and they were all heading to the hill.
'This is so........fucking......BEAUTIFUL!!!' I muttered, just loud enough for Dick and Bev to hear. Tears fell from my eyes and I spun around. 'Guys......' I couldn't continue.
'Happy Folk Fest, John.'
'Ha! Thanks Bev! I can't.......you guys.......this.......' I tried to compose myself. 'Oh, God........guys.....let's go......there......down.....down....'
Dick was speechless. Not a word. We ran down the hill into the enormous crowd of thousands. Everybody I looked at glowed, and they were all beautiful. I wanted to laugh and cry all at once. My body was confused all to Hell. I looked at everybody in the eye, and I felt love radiate from them. It was communication without words. Each of these people was on some sort of drug, and yet there was no fighting. Nobody spiraling out of control. Nobody having a crisis. No emergencies. No problems. No disputes. No arguing. People were hugging each other and holding each other like it was going out of style. People were laying on the grass, tripping, talking, enjoying the stars and the sky. I looked up to the sky, raised my arms, and hugged the Universe. And, it hugged me back :) This was absolute insanity! All the combined energy of everyone in this field was flowing through me, keeping me alive. Not just alive, but human.
The three of us sat down in the middle of a large group of people who were also sitting down. Ahead of us was a large videoscreen and a set of speakers on a stage. Before long, an odd group of three people got up on stage. They appeared to be a husband, wife, and their daughter. And, that's just what they were.
'Good evening everybody. I'm Jason Trachtenburg, and we are the Trachtenburg Family Slideshow Players. We've collected slides from various garage sales and whatnot, and we've made songs about them. We hope you like them.'
I wasn't sure what to think. They started up their set, complete with the various slides they had being projected onscreen. They were hilarious! The music was extremely quirky. Very safe indie art-pop type stuff. The slides were very strange. Old vacation slides from God-knows-whose-family. Corporate projections for the fiscal year, discarded in the 1980s by whatever company. Used cars and their salesmen. By far the oddest bunch of musicians I'd ever seen. They provided much laughter, but I eventually got bored of their set. Thankfully, the entertainment value of it lasted nearly to the end of their stagetime. Soon enough, they were finished. It now must have been around 2:00am. I was lost in the mushroom world. By this point, I barely felt like I was in my own body. I could move my extremities, but it didn't seem like this was a conscious choice. They did what I wanted them to, but I got the impression that I wasn't in any control of this anyway. I looked toward Bev and Dick. Bev was there, but Dick was not.
No response. He was in the zone.
'Oh, okayyyyy.....' I said, my voice trailing.
I laid down in the grass, partly out of choice, and partly because the mushrooms were pressing my body down into the ground. I felt like I was part of the earth. An extension of it. I was one with the blades of grass. This was SO COMFORTABLE! And, then I got a treat. The Northern Lights were out, and they were dancing overhead. Not like I'd seen them before. Entire waves of colour would wash over the whole sky, mix with each other, and splash down toward me. I tried to grab them, and smiled, realizing that I couldn't. This was purely for my observation. I told Bev about it, and he laid down too. Wow! The waves started making sounds as they skidded across the sky. They rippled, as if someone had thrown a stone at them. WOW! The sounds got more pronounced, and I eventually realized that they were coming from the speakers. I sat back up. There was a man dressed in a white sheet standing on stage. Beside him was an Arab/Asian/Caribbean-looking man (I couldn't figure out his nationality), also dressed in white. And then....BOOM! A bass note so thick it could drown a fish. And another. This got Bev to sit up. The sound was so heavy, it nearly pushed me backward. The screen lit up all of Pope's Hill for a split second, and then went dark. Nothing for a few seconds.....and then another loud bass hit. Immediately following this (and in fact stemming from it) was a single atmospheric note which resonated and changed pitch. As this note droned on into the endless night, a very loud bass note ripped through us all. The screen lit up very slowly to display plumes of smoke. The smoke slowly dissipated and behind it was revealed a shamanic-looking man dressed in a long red and purple coat draped with leaves. He was blowing the smoke at the screen. He was in the middle of the rainforest. The shot turned to another one of him, this time sitting with his legs crossed on a rock near a wooden hut. He began to speak in a language unknown to probably any of us at Pope's Hill. This was subtitled. As he spoke, more single notes transformed into whispy, distant angelic sounds. He was talking about Ayahuasca, which we quickly learned was a hallucinogenic brew made from a number of distinct plants found in the rainforest where he lives. The video went on to show shots of him preparing the brew, and consuming some as he continued to blow smoke at the camera. As his speech tapered off, he faded behind the smoke and the video slowly became a kaleidoscopic entanglement of colour and shape. There was an audible sound from those of us on the hill and at the base. This video transformation, along with the formation of new slow melodic beats and droning chords took everyone by surprise. Nothing could have prepared us for this. There was no warning. And my GOD, how powerful this was under the influence of 4 very hefty grams of psilocybin! Any conversations going on in the crowd were immediately silenced by the beauty that had just been dropped on us. The voice of the shaman periodically came back in, in samples, mixed with the music. This single piece would continue on for the remainder of the set, changing just frequently enough for us all to take in all it had to offer. I looked around me to discover that I was certainly not the only one in tears. There was magic on Pope's Hill. I believe that with every bit of my heart. And then, as if my senses weren't already stimulated enough...
A hand crawled up my back and came to rest on my cheek. The mystery hand belonged to a mystery arm, which in turn belonged to...an angel. A beautiful angel dressed in white garments. An angel with long, flowing dirty-blonde hair and facial features that were distinct and strong. An angel I was sure I must have been hallucinating, but wasn't. We looked each other in the eye, and our souls embraced.
'Can I kiss you?' the angel asked rhetorically. She was not looking for a verbal response, and so we moved in for what would become the shortest, but most effective and warmest kiss I have ever - and probably will ever - experience. Mushrooms have a funny way of enhancing your senses. Your tactile sensations are somehow both completely removed from you, and greatly augmented at the same time. In fact, this is true for pretty much all the senses. They allow you to be 100% present and aware of absolutely everything around you - often to the point of believing that the world is MORE real on mushrooms than off them - but also very distant and beyond reach. This can be extremely hard to describe, but the effect of it is that you interpret everything very strongly. Thus, the kiss I shared with this anonymous angelic force on Pope's Hill in the wee hours of Sunday, July 10th, 2005 was no ordinary kiss. It was a complete and total redefinition of who I was and what I stood for. It meant the world to me, and I would have traded every single moment of every single day I'd lived for one more second of it. There was nothing more powerful, more honest, more real, more human than that brief exchange between me and....
'Meghan...I'm John. At least....that's who I was 4 hours ago.'
'Who are you now?'
'Mmmm...and thank you.'
'So Meghan, are you on anything tonight?'
'Mushrooms. Hmmm...they've been wonderful.'
Meghan was with a small group of people. After we'd all met each other, one of Meghan's friends approached me.
'Do you want to do some yoga?'
'Me?' I asked. This would be embarrassing. I knew nothing about yoga. This very agile young lady would certainly make a freak show out of me if I even attempted it.
'Come on. I'll teach you some basics.'
Well, I couldn't turn this down. She was offering a free yoga lesson. I was in the middle of a wide open field with thousands of people. Hell, I was at Folk Fest :) Sure, I'll learn some yoga! And so, for the next half hour or so I stretched the muscles in my body and contorted myself into positions I didn't think were possible. Wow! Yoga was really refreshing! I'm sure I must have looked like the biggest novice ever, but it didn't matter. I was up for anything, really. All fears and inhibitions had been sucked out of me by the mushrooms, and I was free to just BE. By this time, Maestro Ayahuasquero had finished up their set, which was a damned shame. I broke away from the group for a brief moment and spoke to the men dressed in white. I told them how amazing they'd helped the night become for me, and asked if they would be returning next year. They didn't know what their plans would be for the following year, and they in fact explained that this performance was a once-only event. Maestro Ayahuasquero was not meant to play multiple shows. They were meant to affect the lives of as many people as possible in one night and to live in the memories of those people for years to come.
I made my way back to Meghan, Dave, and the rest of our new group. Meghan was cold, so I offered her my white button-up shirt, which she accepted. The end of amplified music didn't stop Pope's Hill from being alive and thriving with activity. Drum circles started cropping up everywhere around us, and then I heard a voice which appeared to be coming from a megaphone speaker. It was! Somebody had brought a megaphone and was wishing everyone a happy Folk Fest through it! As he approached us, I stopped him and asked if he'd mind if I borrowed it for about 5 minutes or so. He asked what I needed it for, but seemed willing to let me use it as long as I wasn't going to kill the vibe of what was going on. I assured him that this was not a plan of mine. I wanted to do a bit of beatboxing. Little known about me is that I've been beatboxing and perfecting my own style of it since I was 6 years old. I knew I would be able to do a good job of it, and I was curious how it would sound amplified through this megaphone. I wasn't intending to make a big scene of it or anything, but I was high on mushrooms and this was something I felt I had to take advantage of. When else would an opportunity like this arise?
'Everybody! This guy's going to beatbox for us!' he shouted into the megaphone. Whoa, now! I wasn't expecting him to do THAT! But, I could hear people hollering and cheering for me to start. Oh, MAN! What have I got myself into, I thought! All of a sudden, a good chunk of Pope's Hill had their attention focussed in my direction and they were expecting something of a show from me. Thank you mushrooms for giving me the courage to do this! If I'd been sober, I don't know if I would have followed through. But....
'Alright, gimme this thing,' I said. He passed me the megaphone. I looked at the crowd of people sitting on the hill. I looked at Dave. I looked at Meghan.
'HELLO POPE'S HILL!!! HAPPY FOLK FEST, EVERYONE!' My voice echoed through the night. 'ALRIGHT, HERE WE GO! HOPEFULLY YOU CAN DANCE TO THIS.'
And for about 10 minutes I beatboxed better than I'd ever beatboxed before. I kept a good, steady pace up for everyone. I started off with a trip-hoppy loop which I gradually made louder and louder as I added different beats into the mix. I was surprised at how well some of the more throaty bass sounds projected through this thing. Once I got started though, there was no stopping me. I got into my own groove and motioned for people to get up and join in on this thing. Meghan and her group started dancing around me, which prompted more people to get up. Then, they started humming and singing along, making up lyrics to my beat. It was an enthralling experience, to say the least. I hadn't entered Pope's Hill expecting to be noticed at all, but it turned out that way in the end. Dozens of people were now dancing around me. I pointed the megaphone to the sky to get the sound out to more people. Finally, after I had done a number of preset beats I'd been working on or toying with, I shouted one last 'HAPPY FOLK FEST! THANKS FOR THE ENERGY AND THE LOVE!' and handed the megaphone back to the owner. I got a big cheer afterward which brought me to my knees. Wow! I'd just ACTUALLY done that! And it felt blissful!
We all got up and walked around to sit on the hill itself. The Sun was just beginning to lighten the sky off in the distance. We would grab a nice spot on the hill and watch the sunrise as the drugs started to wear off. People were so incredibly free here. I never expected I'd see couples making love right there on the grass, but it was a fairly common sight. Several groups of people had fallen asleep on the hill, while others had huddled into small groups, passing around a pipe or just reminiscing. The crowd was persistent. Nobody wanted the night to end, but we were all victims to the rotation of the Earth, and the magic had to fade at some point. Nobody on the hill that night will go to their graves forgetting what they experienced. It wasn't just me stuck in the mushroom world. Mine was but a single story in a sea of stories that night. The Sun would creep up and illuminate our glorious world, and the effects of the drugs people were on would dissipate. Water bottles were strewn across the field. Empty ziplock bags with crystalline remnants of psychoactives. Random forgotten pills. Cans. Bottles. Clothing. Most of all, memories. You could clean up the hill of all physical paraphernalia that had been left there in the heat of passion, or in the unrelenting journeys of substances running through the bodies of those present. But the memories would live forever.
Dave and I followed Meghan and her group back to their campsite where we consumed some Emergen-C mix in water to keep ourselves awake during the comedown. Meghan grabbed an acoustic guitar and began strumming a hypnotizing improvisation. Her voice was frail and passionate, and was thematic to the whole experience of the previous night. In time, we all hugged and said our goodbyes. We had all shared a true moment together. A moment that lasted for hours, and would resonate in our hearts for the rest of time. Bev and I began our walk back to our site. What had become of Dick? What stories did Tedray have to pass on?
'So?' Bev asked.
'Indescribable. Absolutely indescribable.'
'Same time next year?'
'Haha!' A smile crossed my face and I nodded. 'Yeah. Same time next year.'
As it turns out, Dick had managed to find drink throughout the night. Before even eating the mushrooms, in fact. This ultimately did him in early. He was out before Trachtenburg was halfway done their set. The poor guy. As for Tedray? Well, he was nowhere to be seen in the morning hours. He had invited himself to a group of tents near Pope's Hill, had consumed quite a lot of wine, and had bloodied up a number of drums. He stumbled back to base with an empty bottle in his hand, and a girl screaming his praises as he walked away from his Saturday night hideout.
'I'm fookin' tired, girl! You've tapped me out, donch'know! Let a black maun sleep, God sayk!'
Classic Tedray. :)
The John B.I once was died at Pope's Hill. In his place was born a new individual with a new identity and a new reason. One interested, and completely invested in the proliferation of peace and love throughout the world.
Happy Folk Fest.
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Experience Reports are the writings and opinions of the individual authors who submit them.
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