Citation: Hypersphere. "Grotto Canyon: An Experience with 2C-I & LSD (exp80893)". Erowid.org. Jan 25, 2010. erowid.org/exp/80893
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Background: This experience took place in July 2008. I am a male, at the time of the experience I was 23 years old and weighed 125 pounds. I am familiar with a broad range of psychedelic drugs including mushrooms, LSD, DMT & 5-MeO-DMT, Salvia, 2C-I, 2C-E, and have dabbled with many herbs and other substances such as ketamine and nitrous oxide. I take no medications, but use marijuana and yerba mate on a daily basis.
For this experience I took my usual dose of two hits of LSD plus my usual dose of 20 mg of 2C-I. For me, 2C-I is easily manageable at 20 milligrams, and I have experience combining this dose of 2C-I with a variety of other substances, though I had never combined it with LSD before. I already had maybe 50 2C-I trips under my belt at this time. For LSD, two hits is the most comfortable dose for me. One hit doesn’t take me all the way in, leaving me feeling stuck in my thoughts and emotions. Taking three or four hits of LSD can become more of a challenging trip for me, I often feel socially awkward or have trouble communicating clearly at these higher doses. So for me, two hits of LSD is the happy medium point, a dose I am comfortable with.
The experience: The day began with tension in the house, fighting between two of my romantically involved roommates, Star and Eliane. I was adamant that I was going to get out to the mountains today, come hell or high water. I had been working lots all summer and really wanted to get out into nature and enjoy myself. Come noontime, Eliane was on the front deck crying and Star was on the back deck sulking and smoking.
“You ready to go?” I say to Star…
“Sure.” He says. So I bring the car round back and we make our exit. Giving everyone time to calm down, and space apart from each other.
“You still want to do acid today?” I query.
“Honestly… fuck yeah! I need a break… away from all this.”
We took the 2C-I (twenty milligrams each) about a half hour before getting to our hiking destination. [Erowid Note:
Driving while intoxicated, tripping, or extremely sleep deprived is dangerous and irresponsible because it endangers other people. Don't do it!]
By the time we were ambling down the first leg of the pathway, two hits of good blotter acid freshly tingling on the tongue, I could already feel a little warmth and colour seeping into things. We had taken the 2C-I half an hour before the LSD in order to time the peaks to overlap nicely. For me, I feel 2C-I within 20 minutes but it takes two and a half hours till I peak and has a total duration of eight or nine hours (at a 20 mg dose). LSD I also feel within 20 minutes, but it peaks for me within an hour and a half and the total duration is ten to twelve hours (at a dose of two hits).
We climbed the side of the canyon and found a mossy ledge in the forest, looking down to the rocks below. Smoking a bowl of pot, and admiring the way the sunshine comes through the trees, imparting a warm golden glow. Green and gold, the colours of the forest, with textured greys of bark and tree, red of mulched needles and pine cones. The acid was definitely beginning to effect me, I felt a sense of nervous anticipation and a little dizzyness. Ignoring this vertigo come-up sensation, we went sliding and falling back down to the canyon floor, an exhilerating ride!
The first stop on our spiritual journey… a journey we are not yet consciously aware that we are undergoing, although the web of synchronicity is already lined up. The canyon takes a turn, forming a natural gateway. During winter, the canyon is impassable past this point. During winter, the path is choked with a thick sheet of ice. On the rock face, in faint red ochre, are some native rock paintings. Fertility rites, passage of the seasons. Strangely, considering we are nowhere near traditional corn-growing areas, some of the portrayed figures seem to be of Coco Pelle, a god associated with fertility and with corn. He is a mesoamerican corn deity, and on the walls we can see the stalks of corn clasped in his hands. Strange to find this drawn on the walls of a canyon frequently by nomadic hunter gatherers of the Northern plains.
Past the entrance portal with its rock drawings, it is just a little ways up till we reach the waterfall. I was remembering the hike from childhood, it seemed like it would take a long time to hike up to the waterfall, but it hasn’t taken us much time at all. The canyon opens up, and there is a towering rock face from which water oozes, drips, seeps out of the pores of the rock and splashes down onto our upturned faces. Covering the walls is a living green slime which we jokingly call “phlegm of the rockies”.
We took our shoes off to better grip on the slippy rock as we clamber up to the waterfall. The water cascading over the small bowl-shaped falls sparkles in the sun, scattering misty rainbows. Water doesn’t get much cleaner, clearer, and energetically activated than this. Tumbling down in a whirling dance of gravity, aerated in the spray, soaking up the sunlight… I think about how we drink bottled mountain because we know how good mountain spring water is. But once you put it in the bottle, it looses some of its vitality.
“Well that was kind of easy…” we say to each other, wondering, what now? What comes next? “Well,” I say, “there is a cave if we go up the canyon a bit more.” The combined 2C-I and LSD was coming on much stronger now. A very lively, interactive and tactile buzz. Lots of energy to hike around, and lots of sensory enhancement. Textures and patterns in the rocks jumped out at me. I was feeling a little bit of phlegminess in the back of my throat. 2C-I often gives me a little phlegm in the throat, but it was easy enough to ignore and just keep walking. Physical activity calms the mild body load nicely.
The wind does strange things through the twistings and turnings of the rock walls. Sometimes it is very still, very calm. Othertimes fierce winds will whip through, a howling wind tunnel all around. As we walk up the valley, the wind is fierce indeed. Harsh sunlight and the wind pushing against us like the meltwaters which flood the canyon only in spring. The wind sounded as if the passing whisps of cloud were tearing themselves apart on the lofty mountain peaks. The voice of the canyon speaks to you, in its silences and in its howlings, if you have the right ears to listen.
Exposed at a turning of the river is a large buttress of soft, sedimentary rock. A conglomeration of gravel and stones held together with sand, the rock is very soft and had been eroded by wind and water into sculputured hoodoos. Improbably, this buttress of soft rock pokes up into the sky, and even more improbably, there is the dark mouth of a cave staring down at you from its face.
We climb the scree slope up to the cave, concentrating everything on simply going up and not falling back down, till finally we make it to the cave’s entrance. On the way up to the entrance, a couple chunks of strange yellow rock (quartzite, which is normally purple or white in colour) jump out at me, and I pick them up and put them in my back pocket. It feels like these stones have been given to me by the mountains and the cave.
Passing into the cave, there is an immediate change in the feeling of the environment. It is calm, perfectly calm inside the cave, through wind may gust and whirl the dust into eddies just outside the mouth. It is cool, moist and earthy. The cave is little more than a grotto (as the name implies), a small rocky womb hollowed out the rock. Not too sure how it would have formed through, in such soft rock and with no evidence of water having flowed out of the back of the cave in recent history. Nevertheless, we are inside our little rocky grotto now, sitting at the back. Looking back down, straight down, to the rocks in the valley so far below us.
The entrance to the cave is a ring, and there are more rings, more ripples of stone coming up the birth channel towards us in the womb at the back of the cave. As we sit, the whole cave becomes alive. It moves, in a very organic way. The muscular ridges of the rock ripple and flow. As I watch, the floor of the cave is repeatedly covered by tree roots which grow out of the rock and up towards us. Then the roots retreat, and the bare rock floor is revealed again. The roots grow back… and retreat… and grow back again. Rooted. Earth. No question of that. Outside in the valley a raven croaks, its voice echoing strangely into our grotto.
Wanting to leave an offering in this place, we dig a small channel in the earth at the back of the cave. The sandy earth is moist, and thick with clay sticking to our fingers. We bury a whole cigarette, organic un-chemically-enhanced tobacco, patting the earth back into place. The earth energy. Oh my god. The power of the cave. With hands on the rock I feel myself being pulled into and through the earth, through the layers of gravel and sand. I felt vividly the presence of the native medicine men who journeyed up this canyon, to this cave and sat here as we sat now. I experienced hundreds of years of time flowing by, the buttress of sandy rock eroding with the seasons, and thought of all the people over those years who came and sat in this cave. The quest for spirit and visions drove them. That kind of power radiates backwards and forewards in time, especially at an energetic nexus point like this.
From the cave, everything flows down. Down, downstream, and down some more all the way back to the parking lot a couple hours hike away. Sitting here, above the valley, in this protective and enclosed womb, we are separate from the valley. Separate from the harsh sun, from the searing winds, a good place to sit and observe the valley and everything that passes in it. Way down below and looking like large wood ants, two sun-stricken hikers pause and look up at the cave, squinting. Wondering whether they can see us in the gloom at the back, and with the sun in their eyes, we wave. After a moment, they wave back, looking incredulously at the slope they would have to scramble in order to get up to where we are.
My cell phone bleated plaintively. Help me, I can’t get a signal. Help me, I’m shielded by the womb-like rock. More and more tourists are gawking up at the cave, wondering whether there may or may not be a bear in the back of it. What they least expect is to see two long-haired hippies come out of the cave, and instead of taking the safe(ish) path down, electing instead to free-fall slide down the scree slope. The limestone was sulphur-bearing and with the speed of our descent we stirred up a dust cloud smelling faintly of rotten eggs. That was fun!
There’s still plenty of daylight and we are still plenty high, so we venture farther up the valley past the grotto. For both of us now, this is uncharted territory. I’ve never gone past the cave before. The canyon has a strange effect on us as we continue upstream. It seems to be pulling us forwards. There is a sense that just around the next bend might be something really cool. Cooler than the cave, and that was cooler than the waterfall before that right? So we’d better keep going, and find that cool thing somewhere upstream. Each bend reveals only more spectular mountain panoramas.
As we are walking up the canyon, it feels as though my mind is becoming… heavy. Fuzzy. We are entering into the spirit realm, a sort of waking-dream state. Hypnotically, the canyon pulls us onwards. A sense of foreboding, of vague discomfort begins to impress itself on me. We debate with each other whether we should be continuing on, or maybe turning around and heading back. How long we’ve been hiking for, how far we’ve hiked, and how much daylight we have left are all questions that get thrown around. With a headful of psychedelics and use of english grammar breaking down at a fundamental level, we carry on upstream but with much confusion and miscommunication.
There is a big mountain now revealed, dominating the skyline. In the late afternoon sunshine it gleams with a golden light, and you can hear again the wind ripping and soaring through the rock crags up high. As awe-inspiring and beautiful a sight it is, I am feeling very threatened. The mountain is malevolent. We have perhaps trespassed too far.
Star turns to me and says “Have you heard the stories about what happens to people walking up this canyon?”
The question is out-of-the-blue and I am startled… “Actually,” I say, “I specifically didn’t tell you about the stories I’d heard about this canyon, because I didn’t want to freak you out.”
“Well what kinds of stories have you heard?” He asks.
“Mostly people who walk too far up the canyon, and get caught in sudden storms. Flash floods. I’ve heard that some of them don’t come back.”
The canyon speaks to you, in its silences and in its howlings, if you have the right kind of ears to listen. Right now everything is still. Deadly still. No wind, no insects, no birds break the silence. In the distance we can see an intriguing rock wall. Blue rock, quite vividly slate-blue. We agree to make that wall our turning around point, at which point we really should start heading downstream and home.
We never made it to the blue rock wall. Star is seeming to fry out on me a bit… he asks if we can just stop and rest for a moment. He seems disoriented, confused as to which direction we came from and which direction we are going in. So we sit on some rocks in the now shady canyon, and the feeling of brooding malevolence bears down on me. Hoping Star has his head screwed on straight we continue towards the blue rock wall. Anxiety grips me. Turn back, turn back!
On the very next rock, an inukshuk stands out blocking our pathway. To reinforce the message further, I hear birds crying in the sky. An eagle, warrior of the skies, is being chased and harried across the canyon by a pair of rock doves. We are sitting on a rock collecting our heads and I am feeling, I am feeling that we have really overstayed our welcome. The mountain is telling us sternly, pointing downstream, this is your path home. It’s a long one but you will get out safely. But don’t go further upstream. Go back.
Star is still acting strangely. He seems oddly hypnotized by the golden mountain. Staring at it, muttering about how the whole thing appears to be made of gold…
“But it’s an illusion,” I say uneasily, “its not actually made of gold.”
“How could you turn your back on something like that, though?” He asks. Resolutely, I turn my back and we start off downstream. “You think we should go back?” He questions.
“Yes. Yes I think we should go back now.” I say firmly.
We had hiked up a lot farther than either of us had realized. Every once in a while, hiking back towards the grotto, Star would ask if we could just sit, chill, hang-out for a minute and I would say “yes of course” and then he would begin staring at the mountain and the sky again. Staring and staring. I could trance out that way too, and I gave it a try… it was a still, blank sort of feeling. But not a comfortable stillness. Something was off about it. We were still in the shadow of the golden mountain, still within its unwelcoming aura. A little concerned for my friends well-being, I would give him a minute or two of trance-staring and then would gather him up and get us moving downstream again.
As we walked, I told Star about this movie that my parents watched when they were young and impressionable, and then showed to me later when I was also young and impressionable. I think its called Picnic at Hanging Rock… anyway, its set in Australia and these girls from an upper-class school go on a field trip to this rock buttress. The rock does strange things to them, as they stare up at the sky and its wind-sculptured peaks. Some of the girls go mad. One disappears, never to be seen again. A man who goes up into the rocks searching for the missing girl turns up days later, sun-crazed and speechless, clutching in his hand a scrap of the missing girl’s shawl. Anyway, I said to Star, that’s the sort of feeling the mountain back there was giving me. As I say this, we come out from behind the mountain’s shadow. The sun hits my skin again. Already I feel a little bit better, but were not out of the woods yet.
After a stiff hike we again reached the buttress of rock and its small grotto. Psychedelic safe-point #1. Your not out of the woods yet, but at least your not still up in the backcountry with no proverbial paddle. This time we walked on the far river bank, looking back up at the cave. It was only now that I noticed the face in the rock. The whole buttress, from this angle, looked like a human head. From its prominent sculpted forehead with alpine grass and trees in place of hair, the scree came down forming a nose. The cave was the left eye, open and staring, the right eye visible in the scree but its lid shut. It was not a kind face, not a gentle face. Stern and powerful. Oh. So that’s the face of the moutain whose will we just tested… well then.
After another stiff hike, we made it back to the waterfall. Psychedelic safe-point #2, within reasonable walking distance of the parking lot. The last of the foreboding leaves me. Everything is going to be fine now. Most hikers never make it past the waterfall anyway, never make it to the grotto let alone exploring beyond. Now I have a better appreciation for why those few hardy souls you do see hiking down from the upper reaches of the canyon always look so wind-blown, so wild-eyed. It’s not something I can explain, but you can go and experience it for yourself. We cleanse ourselves in the stream water and drink a little of the cool mountain springs. The water looks and tastes perfectly clean. If we get beaver fever, I’ll put it down to the mountain’s revenge.
One more stiff hike and we relaxed at the end of our journey by the pond adjacent to the parking lot. Fish jump and splash, gulping down the equally hungry mosquitos. The eagle was out fishing too, his talons perhaps more effective than the lures of the fishers casting around the lake at this dusky hour. It is peaceful to sit on a picnic table, smoke a well-earned doobie and integrate a bit of what we had experienced this day. Admiring the highly fucking deadly poisonous water hemlock growing so innocently like celery in the shallow water, and a few green bog orchids scattered here-and-there amongst the horsetails. There was a buzzing in my head and I was seeing visual patternings everywhere, reminiscent of the afterglow of smoking DMT.
I showed Star my pieces of yellow stone given to me by the mountain. “Depending how you look at things, you could say that the mountain gave me these rocks, that they are special. Or you could say that they are just two rocks that I picked up because I was high on acid. It all depends.” He held them, and spiralled out, giving them back and saying they made his head feel fuzzy.
Did we subconsciously know exactly what we were getting ourselves into, when we dosed and set out on this journey? Back at the trailhead, there was an interpretive sign we hadn’t noticed before. It explained how for the last 500-1000 years, native tribes would seek out this canyon and travel up it on vision quests for spirit and guidance. It had a little picture of some of the rock-art figures. No shit, we said to each other. I did some more research at home, and found that the Hopi tribe has sent groups exploring to the four corners to find land to live in. Grotto canyon is as far north as they got, the point at which they decided to turn around and head back south. That explains the Coco Pelle figure, anyway.
In conclusion, I found the combination of LSD and 2C-I to be a very enjoyable one, these two substances compliment each other nicely. There was a little bit of nervous energy and body load, but nothing too uncomfortable. It was very pleasant for hiking or other physical activity. The visual effects were prominent and I had all round sensory enhancement. Our hiking location, Grotto Canyon, is for real. I have gone back not on drugs and still found the energy of the upper stretches of the canyon very thick and heavy. The land seems to be aware of travellers passing up the canyon. Check it out if you get a chance, sit in the cave and meditate. I have heard the foodsteps of those long ago, approaching from a side of the cave where there is no longer even a pathway.
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