Magic Mushrooms and the Trail That Wasn’t
October 3, 2019 – Penrose State Park, WA
On Saturday, my son and his family headed home after 3 days of camping with us, and I was feeling bluesy. It had rained all morning, but by early afternoon the sun poked through the clouds. “Let’s go for a hike,” Brent said, trying to cheer me up. “I found a new trail I want to show you, and the mushrooms are out. Maybe I can find some along the way.” Brent hated slimy fungi in his spaghetti sauce, so I knew he was in search of the magic (psilocybin) shrooms.
“Ok, but don’t expect me to eat any. My dad almost died from eating wild mushrooms. Some of the poisonous ones look just like the edible ones. Please be careful”
Brent gave me a “shrugging his shoulders” look, and ten minutes later we headed off down the trail. Every few minutes, he’d spot a patch of mushrooms, bend over to pick up a sample, turn it upside down, then throw it back on the ground. Each time I’d breathe a sigh of relief. Then, he found something that looked totally different from the others, but not in a good way. It was yellowish, slimy, and underneath, instead of gills, was a spongelike substance. He squeezed the stem and a bluish, inky color popped to the surface.
“I think this is it,” he exclaimed, his eyes sparkling.
I’ve since read up on psychoactive mushrooms, and one statement stuck in my mind. Things get even more complicated when it comes to magic mushrooms due to the fact that the psychological profile of the persons willing to try this type of mushrooms includes a higher tolerance for risk.” Yep, that’s Brent, I thought to myself. Apparently pleased with the blue-veined mushroom, he broke off a piece and popped it into his mouth.
“Shit”, I thought to myself. There were a few possibilities, mostly unpleasant. It could be poisonous, in which case I’d face the unpleasant task of calling 911 and trying to explain where we were so he could be evacuated to the emergency room. It could cause him to hallucinate and do something crazy, or it could do absolutely nothing. Brent has a very high tolerance for any type of medication, so even if it was a magic mushroom, it could have no affect on him at all.
Thirty minutes later, we continued as normal down the trail, and Brent had (thankfully) stopped searching, at least for shrooms. We took another path that led down to a rocky, log-strewn beach. After beachcombing for a bit, we rounded the tip of Penrose Point and spotted an old bench on the shore overlooking the ocean.
“Let’s stop here”, Brent suggested. “This looks like a good place to eat lunch and there should be a trail that runs parallel to the coast. We can take it back to the campsite,” We hopped over a piece of driftwood and pulled ourselves up to higher ground. After lunch, we headed off to find the trail.
Logic told us there should have been a trail leading off from the bench. Why would there be a clearing with a bench overlooking the water in the middle of nowhere? But there was no trail—maybe there was at one time, but vegetation had taken over. We set off to look for it, Brent in the lead, hacking away to make a path with his machete. Forging a trail was no easy task. The vegetation was dense, and we frequently had to get down on our hands and knees to crawl under fallen tree trunks. We emerged onto a sunlit clearing, thinking we’d finally found the elusive trail, but it was nowhere to be seen.
We still had phone service. “Let’s try our GPS,” I suggested and opened Google Maps. It showed our location, a tiny dot around the corner of Penrose Point, but when I requested directions, it told us we were 2 minutes from the campground. Obviously, Ms. Google had no idea how to get us back. I downloaded another app that was specifically for trails, but that one didn’t work either, so we headed off again, hacking and crawling. By this time, my pant legs were soaking wet, and I’m sure Brent’s were as well.
I have no innate sense of direction. I can get lost driving around the block, forgetting how many turns I’ve made. It’s one reason that I never hike alone. Ten minutes later, Brent got us back to our starting point, and I breathed a sigh of relief. At least we could hike back down the beach. I sat down on the old wood bench to rest my legs, looked out over the water, and noticed that something was missing. There was no rocky beach—the tide had crept up and covered the whole thing. I picked up my phone again to check the tide tables.
“High tide is one hour from now, so it’ll be at least a couple of hours before we can get out of here, probably more. In two hours, it’ll be just like it is now.” It was already 4:30, so that meant we’d have to hike back in the dark, with only our phone flashlights to guide us.
With no sun to warm us, the air quickly grew cold, and I started to shiver. I found myself wishing I’d worn a jacket instead of just a sweatshirt, but who knew? I noticed there’d been a fire here recently, and so did Brent. He’d already taken off with his machete to hack out wood chips and gather kindling, but making a fire was no easy task. It had rained all morning, and everything was wet.
“Do you have any Kleenex on you,” Brent asked hopefully. “I need something to start the fire.”
I checked my pockets and came up with part of a Kleenex—the part I hadn’t used when I’d peed earlier. I’d carefully torn it in half in case I had to go again.
I don’t know how Brent did it, but he managed to start the fire. For the next two hours, I stood close to the blaze, absorbing the heat through every pore of my body. By 8:00 the tide was low enough to escape and we took off down the beach. Though I had my phone flashlight to guide me, the going was rough. The rocks were slippery with seaweed and water since the tide had just receded, and the beach was strewn with huge wet logs to go over and under.
About halfway down the beach, I heard a loud thump and a moaning noise. Brent had gotten ahead of me, and he sat next to a huge log, moaning in pain. He has a high tolerance for pain, so I knew right away it had been bad.
“I got to the log and didn’t see this branch sticking out. It rammed into my head.” He touched a spot right above his hairline and his palm came away sticky with blood. After a few dabs with the shirt he’d torn off, the blood flow had stopped, so we started out once more. 30 minutes later, we reached the campsite, emotionally and physically depleted. All we wanted to do was sleep.
We’re paid up until Friday at this campsite, and I’m hoping we can leave by then. Brent has finished putting up the sides on the expanded version of the trailer, but along the way he screwed up his back. I’m used to seeing Brent in pain, but this time is different. It’s an intense pain, and the only way he can stay comfortable is to sleep. Today I’m taking him to the doctor, but I’m not sure what she can do. Maybe a back brace for support? I’m worried now that we won’t make it by tomorrow, or even Saturday. Without Brent, how can I pack all the stuff into the trailer? I think I can do it, but it’ll be slow going. At this point, I just want to get out of here. My brain is screaming, “Arizona” and my flight to Hawaii (from Phoenix) is only 13 days from now. But worrying accomplishes nothing, so I need to stay positive. One way or another, we WILL get out of here.