The camping trip

“We’re really, really scary

  We’re really, really hairy

  We run really fast, ahhh!

  We’ll cook you in our pasta!”

My friend and I chanted as we half slid, half rolled down an unfamiliar trail from Sooke Road to Chin Beach, struggling to sound as intimidating as possible, and instantly erupting in girlish giggles after every success. We had bear spray tucked into the outside pocket of a bag, but we felt much more confident in our ability to frighten off any bears with our bad rhymes than our capability of successfully deploying the three-step spray into the angry face of an attacking animal. We walked, hyper aware of the woods around us, more nervous in our anticipation of unlikely creatures lurking behind the next tree than about taking the two hits of LSD that I had stashed in my wallet particularly for that day.

Illustration by Cristina Williams

Illustration by Cristina Williams

Emerging from the woods (without any bear encounters) to discover an entirely deserted, absolutely gorgeous stretch of rocky beach at low tide, a calm mist hovering over the tree line, and the perfect spot to pitch a tent was our first high. Once we had made sure that everything was organized, we split up the LSD into four parts, some for now, some for soon, and after various forms of confusion on how to take it (both of us spat out a half hit before it had been fully absorbed; her in a misunderstanding of how long to hold it on your tongue, and me accidentally as I laughed), we waited for it to kick in.

Wandering around our little corner of the beach, I began to observe with sharpened eyes, waiting for something undiscovered to make itself clear. I found myself holding sand in my palm and saw each grain, watched them sift through my fingers as I let them fall. We stopped asking each other if we were high, and began pointing out the marvelous things that we saw, shrieking at the astounding discovery that all of the rocks looked like planets, and finding entire galaxies in the underside of shells. Once in a while, haggard-looking hikers who had been on the Juan De Fuca trail, presumably for days, emerged from the forest and shot us looks of confusion and concern before giving us a wide berth as they passed, and pitched their tents as far away from ours as comfortably possible.

We continued to explore the beach, and I crouched on the rocks as close to the crashing waves as I could get, totally in awe of their power and beauty, listening to them sing along with the symphony in my head as they reached for the shore. The rocks gobbled them up. I was strangely disconnected from my body, and all sorts of feelings that I couldn’t name, that I didn’t even consider placing a name to, began rolling across my skin. I experienced all of my bodily sensations simply as a change in what I had previously been feeling, and found my first association with a familiarity much later, as I looked at my arm and saw goosebumps. Rather than instantly reaching for the extra five layers that I have with me at any given time, I unassumingly observed the chill, and didn’t associate it with any of the usual feelings of discomfort.

LSD demanded that I pay attention to the smallest of details. It called for me to be entirely present, and I found myself unable to be aware of anything but exactly what I was experiencing in that precise moment. It took every part of the world that I had become acclimatized to and reintroduced its wonder to me with such tenderness that I became utterly enamored with the patterns in rocks, the intense green of a leaf, the wholeness of the Earth.

I once witnessed a child spotting the moon mid-afternoon for the first time; I am sure that on that beach, I held the same astonishment and awe in my eyes that I had seen in his.

Editor’s note: Per the author’s request, this story has been published under a pseudonym. 

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