01 Feb A Bad Trip Showed Me Something That I Still Don’t Know How to Explain
Hallucinogenic drugs are something that people seem to either really love and use regularly, or something they have sworn off forever. To me, nothing is better than a night with good friends tripping balls in the middle of the woods and bursting into fits of laughter until our jaws feel like they’re about to fall off.
One of my favorites has always been psilocybin, or magic mushrooms as they are more commonly known. Those little purple-gold bastards will put you in another dimension of giggles for hours on end.
Yeah, the nausea and bouts of vomiting kind of suck, but it’s small price to pay to visit an alien landscape. A lot of people are put off of hallucinogens due to their fear of having a ‘bad trip’. It’s good to be aware of this risk, but out of the hundreds of trips I’ve had, I’ve only ever had one which I’d classify as ‘bad’. It was the last time I tripped, and it was really bad. I still don’t know exactly how much was the trip, and how much was real, but it’s the reason I’m here writing this today.
It was a warm summer Friday night, and I had just gotten off work. My buddy Cody had texted me during the day and wanted to know if I wanted to go out and have a bonfire. I of course quickly expressed my interest and returned home to get ready for the night. I met up with Cody and his girlfriend Lexi several hours later.
Cody had a wide devious smile on his face when I arrived, and I knew instantly he had something he couldn’t wait to tell me.
“What are you all happy about?” I asked buckling my seatbelt in the backseat of his truck.
“Check it out man.” Cody said fumbling for something in his center console. He retrieved a bag several seconds later and tossed it to me.
“Merry Christmas.” He said with a smile. The bag was stuffed with a familiar and welcome sight: dried psilocybin mushrooms. I removed one from the bag and admired it in my hands. It was dotted with streaks of purplish-azure and smelled absolutely rancid. All normal signs of good quality shrooms.
“So, it’s gonna be one of those nights huh?” I asked, my smile mirroring his own.
“Hell yeah.” Cody replied with a raspy chuckle. From there the three of us made our way out to meet up with another couple of our friends. We rendezvoused with Alex, Jovan and Chelsea soon after. Cody unveiled his bag of goodies, and both guys expressed equal excitement as I had.
“Oh shit, it’s gonna be a good night.” Jovan said with his infectious laugh. Our group headed out from there to grab the usual supplies. We picked up a few pallets from Cody’s work, stopped by the liquor store and headed out to our usual spot.
I live out in Oregon, and our go to bonfire area is a place called Goat Mountain. It’s pretty remote, some 15 miles south of Estacada. Lots of wilderness, off-roading trails and abandoned logging sites dot the area. People know about this place and regularly camp in the area, but usually you’ll never run into them because the place is so vast.
The area is nice for several reasons. First of which, is that cops rarely patrol it because their cruisers have severe difficulty traversing the unpaved trails that lead up to it. A truck or jeep is pretty much a must in order to get there.
Second is that – as far as I know, nobody lives in the area. You can make all the noise you want up there, and nobody’s going to complain or come looking for you. It’s our own little haven, shared by others who know the area, and a pleasant escape from the bustling and at times overwhelming city.
So, we began our trek, supplies in tow with Cody’s truck barreling towards the destination. Lexi was in shotgun, while Chelsea and I sat in the back. Behind us, Alex and Jovan stayed hot on our tail in Alex’s 98’ Jeep Wrangler.
The roads quickly turned from smooth pavement, to an uneven dirt path. Trees stood like templars on either side of the road, and the forest itself seemed to beckon us onward. We of course, were all too eager to oblige.
We made good time, and within half an hour we arrived at the usual spot. The area is a sort of pit or small valley on the other side of a relatively steep trail. Makeshift firepits were scattered about the area, while shotgun shells, beer cans and cigarette butts littered the area. It appears we aren’t the only ones who visit that spot anymore.
It honestly pisses me off that people come out and leave shit all over the place. Like really? If you’re going to go camping then at least pick up your trash or at the very least, burn it. I’m no hippie, but I’ll admit; I am a bit of a stickler when it comes to not leaving a mess. Nothing worse than having an area you love overrun by garbage.
Despite the initial irritation of the trash, we soon had our gear unloaded and a warm bellowing fire roaring in the background. We wasted no time in cracking open a cold one, and setting up the tents. The sun had just begun to set by the time we finished our set up.
Cody then eagerly distributed the shrooms among the group. Lexi and Chelsea both elected to not participate, which only meant more for the rest of us. Cody had maybe a half ounce or so, meaning that each of us took roughly an eighth, with Cody taking a bit more.
I chewed on the grimy mushrooms, as a taste not entirely dissimilar to stale popcorn entered my mouth. Some people can’t stand the taste, one of those people being Jovan who looked as though he was about to vomit as he downed them.
“Shit tastes like ass.” He commented, a scowl on his face as he downed a large swig of Coors.
“Well they do grow in cow shit y’know?” Cody replied with a laugh that was echoed by Alex. Lexi and Chelsea gave shakes of their heads from around the fire, as the four of us guys struggled to down the dried mushrooms. After it was done, we grabbed another round of beers and sat in eager anticipation of the desired effects.
For about an hour we sat, reminiscing on past parties and various debauchery as we waited for the trip to kick in. I felt my stomach begin to turn as we sat there, which actually is a good sign. Psilocybin is essentially food poisoning, like mold or something. Makes you feel like shit for a bit, but that’s how you know it’s working.
It’s always a slow malaise at first, a subliminal inclination that makes you feel like something about the world is suddenly very different. The weirdness is gradual, starting with moderate tufts of distortion on the trees and in the sky. I always describe it as ‘the world begins to sing,’ which when I’m sober sounds like nonsense, but during the trip it makes perfect sense. The world around you seems to just take on an entirely different form as your perspective gives in to the chemicals. For some reason this is just about the funniest damn thing you will ever see, and soon after the fits of giggles begin.
Chelsea was busy telling a story about some girl who tried to fight her at a party, when Alex suddenly burst out laughing. Chelsea looked to him, clearly annoyed that he had interrupted her tale.
“You’re trippin’ balls aren’t you?” She asked with a laugh. Alex calmed down suddenly, his eyes darting back and forth as hushed giggles escaped his lips.
“I feel like shit bro…” Jovan said.
“Go puke, it’ll enhance the trip.” Cody replied. I never actually have found out whether that rumor is true or not. Jovan shook his head and pressed his hand to his face.
“Nah man I’ll be good…” Cody then looked to me.
“You feelin’ it yet?” Cody’s eyes seemed to bulge from their sockets, and for some reason his slightly pudgy exterior combined with blonde facial hair in that moment of dismal lightning reminded me of a walrus. I burst out laughing, and Cody followed suit right after.
The three of us continued to laugh for several minutes, all the while the girls giggled to themselves and made fun of us. Jovan meanwhile, had gone to relieve himself away from the group. Silence suddenly befell the group, only for it to be pierced seconds later by the sounds of Jovan retching somewhere in the woods.
This of course elicited another bout of laughs from Cody, Alex and me. We then heard the infectious cackle of Jovan from the shadows who had now also joined in the laughter. Chelsea shook her head.
“Idiots.” She and Lexi shared a laugh as Jovan returned to the group.
“Man I splattered on my Jordan’s.” Jovan said with a laugh while using a towel to wipe the muck from his feet.
“Why you even wearing those out here?” Cody asked with a laugh. The full brunt of the trip really began to hit me then. Around me the trees appeared to breathe in and out, like a pupil rapidly dilating and restricting. Lexi began to play some trap music from her phone. Cody’s truck and Alex’s jeep also appeared to breathe, and when combined with the music, they appeared to dance in the crimson light of the fire. I giggled to myself, juvenile, like a child who just swiped a cookie from the jar.
We continued to chuckle at asinine things and observe the now distorted world around us. A full moon now beamed brightly overhead, illuminating a cluster of grinning clouds that seemed to sneer down at us. In the woods around us I saw the shadows dance and contort in a bizarre display. Lexi then paused her music, and things fell suddenly silent. That was when I first heard it. In the distance I thought I could hear the faint humming sound of something.
I perked up and cocked my head to the side, trying to better hear the faint sound.
“What is it?” Lexi asked. I put my hand up, as the distant sounds of what appeared to be a low humming echoed in my ears.
“Do you hear that?” The others cocked their heads.
“Sounds like… humming or something.” I replied. “Am I just tripping or…”
“No, I hear it too…” Chelsea interjected.
“Probably just somebody blasting music.” Cody said. Alex rose to his feet and began to saunter away from the fire. He paused some twenty feet away, and slowly turned back.
“I think it’s coming from that way.” He said extending a pointed finger towards a cluster of trees. He lowered his hand and then turned back to us, a gleaming smile on his face.
“You guys up for an adventure?” He asked with a chuckle.
“Hell no man, I ain’t tryin’ to die tonight.” Jovan replied.
“Oh come on you’ll be fine, it’s probably just some people partying. Cody you down?” Cody took a swig of beer and pondered the proposition for a moment.
“Yeah fuck it, let’s do it.” He said with a shrug.
“Zach, you down?” Alex asked to me. I shrugged.
“Sure, why not?” Cody and I both rose to our feet and beckoned Jovan.
“Come on Jovan let’s go…” Cody said. Jovan shook his head.
“Hell no man.”
“Come on, don’t be a pussy. We’re just gonna go see what’s up.” Alex replied. Jovan gave a deep sigh and downed his Coors. Then with a groan he stood as well, begrudgingly ready to follow.
“Be careful please…” Lexi said to Cody with a pleading glance.
“Come with us…” Cody replied. Lexi and Chelsea both shook their heads.
“Nope.” Lexi replied simply. “Somebody’s gotta watch the stuff.”
“Fine.” Cody said rolling his eyes and turning away. He walked over to Alex’s spot and Jovan and I followed.
The four of us soon disappeared from the light of the campfire and entered the now chilly woods. Luckily the full moon beamed down overhead, making visibility surprisingly good for that time of night. Shadows seemed to stare at us around every corner, and the trees almost seemed to try grabbing us as we passed. Our journey was mostly silent, albeit with sparse giggles emitted every now and then.
The strange humming sounds grew louder, and as we drew nearer to the source I recognized it as some kind of chanting. That should’ve been where we turned and high-tailed it out of there, but we were dumb.
We had gone for maybe ten minutes when we rounded a corner and saw something. Cody who lead the pack paused, and lifted his hand up. Then I saw it. Further down the trail, maybe a couple hundred yards there was a bonfire.
“Dude… I don’t know about this…” Alex said turning to the rest of us. I crept closer and stood beside Cody at the front.
“Come on, they’re just havin’ a bonfire.” Cody replied, shrugging off Alex’s concern.
“What the hell is that sound then?” Alex replied. Cody’s head swayed on his shoulder, before he began walking once more.
“Cody hold up dude…” Cody wasn’t listening. He walked across the trail and disappeared into the woods on the other side. I groaned, now with a deep pit of dread opening in my stomach. Nonetheless, and against my instincts I followed him.
I entered the trees on the other side, and took care as to not make a lot of noise. I saw Cody some thirty yards away crouching behind a tree. I tiptoed over to his position, and crouched down beside him. Cody jumped as he heard me, but then relaxed a bit. I saw the fear in his wide, dilated eyes then.
“Dude…” He pointed out beyond our position, in the direction of the bonfire. The chanting now sounded almost like a group of monks performing a Gregorian mantra of some kind. I crept up to Cody and peered around him.
The bonfire was now completely visible- a massive pyre burning brightly some 50 yards away. Around it stood a dozen or so people, all dressed in white robes with hoods up. There was some sort of emblem on their chests, but it was too far to discern what it was. All of them were holding hands around the fire, chanting their ungodly chorus in unison.
My first thought was that we had stumbled upon a Ku-Klux-Klan rally. Alex and Jovan then emerged behind us. Jovan peaked around the tree.
“Oh hell no!” His words elevated almost to a shout. Alex quickly seized him to prevent him making any more noise, but it was too late. I watched from the shadows as the chanting stopped, and those in the group turned their heads towards our position. It was then I saw something truly disturbing. Underneath their hoods I could see their faces, but something about them was just… unnatural. It looked as though they wore the faces of animals, but in the dim light it was impossible to confirm.
My heart began thundering in my chest, and I felt my knees trembling beneath me. The group stared in our direction for what seemed like hours, motionless and still clasping hands with one another. We were adequately hidden in the brush, but if they decided to go investigate, then we would have no choice but to make a run for it. Luckily for us they didn’t, and eventually they turned back to their pyre and resumed their activities.
It was then I took a closer look at the fire itself. In the midst of the crimson flames I thought I saw something shaped like a skull. Not human skull, more animalistic. We continued to watch, enamored by the bizarre spectacle.
After several more minutes they stopped, and released one another’s hands. They stood in silence for a moment, as only the sounds of dancing cinders filled the atmosphere. Then someone moved towards the center of the group. This one was different to the others though. He wore a robe as well, but his hood was down and on his head was an elaborate mask of some sort. I counted at least six spiraling horns about a foot in length. The face of the mask looked to be the skull of some predatory animal, perhaps a bear or wolf.
He strolled into the center, silently and turned his back to the inferno. The flames stood almost as tall as he did. He stood only a few feet from the voracious fire, and I wondered how he could possibly bare the immense heat.
Another person then approached him, as a bizarre clucking noise became audible. The second member held a cage of some sort which housed something within. The one with the elaborate headdress then lifted both his arms and began to speak. I listened, trying to decipher his words for a moment, before realizing he wasn’t speaking in English. I don’t know what language it was actually, but to me it sounded like Latin or some other archaic dialect. Goosebumps sprouted all over my skin as I looked on. Cody shot me a glance, an almost petrified look as if to ask ‘should we go back’? Neither of us spoke though.
The man then appeared to finish his monologue, and the others in the group chanted a phrase in unison.
“Resurgehmos.” The leader lowered his arms, and his assistant opened the cage. The leader then stuck his arm inside and pulled back, withdrawing a live chicken that clucked and fluttered furiously. The poor bird was held by the man upside down by its feet for only a moment, before the man slid a blade across it’s throat. The chicken squawked in a frenzied, terrified tone as blood began to drip from it’s neck. The man then took the dying bird and flung it into the bellowing flames.
The birds body entered the inferno with a sickening squawk of pain before being quickly devoured by it. The flames then lurched upwards by at least five feet for only a split second. By that point we began to move away, completely horrified by the events we had just witnessed. As we scurried away, I heard something echo from the flames. It sounded like a deep guttural laughter.
Cody and I stopped as Alex and Jovan took off back towards the camp. We turned back to the fire, and I could scarcely believe my eyes. By this point I was peaking in my trip, so what I saw may not be entirely accurate.
The flames shifted and the logs within began to crumble as if someone had struck them. The logs fell aside, and from beneath them I saw something begin to sprout upwards. It was dark, blacker than soot and impossible to discern it’s appearance. We didn’t bother sticking around to see anything else though.
Cody and I took off running, frantic and no longer wishing to see whatever the hell that thing was. I felt twigs and branches smack my face and body as I went hurdling through the woods at a torrid rate. A cacophonous roar emanated from behind us, followed by the sounds of pained shrieks.
The ground beneath me seemed to distort and shift as I ran. The forest itself seemed intent on restricting me, and several times I fell, only to regain my footing and keep running. The shadows seemed to bite at my heels every step of the way, and in the distance, I heard the serenade of manic laughter and lamentations bolster into a storm.
Finally, Cody and I reached the camp, and found Alex and Jovan already loaded up in Alex’s Jeep.
“What the hell’s going on?” Lexi asked as we entered the site.
“We gotta go, come on.” Cody instructed. Alex and Jovan took off seconds later, with Alex’s Jeep screaming back down the hill. We quickly doused our campfire and loaded into Cody’s truck. The tents and other supplies were left behind, as nothing else mattered in that moment aside from escape.
Cody’s truck roared to life and within seconds we were flying back down the trail which had led us to the site. Alex and Jovan were already long gone by that point. Cody quickly but carefully navigated the crumbling trail, and soon we had reached the bottom and emerged upon the dirt road.
Cody gunned it as soon as we were on the flat ground, and his truck began barreling back down the mountains. Lexi kept urging him to slow down, and I’ll admit I was nervous of his driving in that moment as well. In the rearview I saw Cody’s eyes, stretched taught and unblinking as terror coalesced within them.
Chelsea kept asking me what we saw, but I never found the words to be able to answer her properly. I kept thinking I saw flashes of whatever was in the flames on our way out standing at the side of the road. I still don’t know whether I actually did, or if it was all an illusion of my hallucinating mind.
We made it back to Cody’s house some time later, and found Alex and Jovan had beat us there. We all just sort of sat around in Cody’s basement, not really saying much of anything. Eventually the night grew late, and the others fell asleep. I didn’t sleep a minute that night though, as I could’ve sworn I heard distant laughter on several occasions.
That was all over three years ago, and I have since gotten over the incident, at least for the most part. I’ve never tripped mushrooms again since that experience; the thought alone terrifies me. None of us have ever really talked about what we saw that night either, but maybe that will change soon.
I had almost forgotten about this entire fiasco, until a couple days ago I saw something that caught my eye. It was a news article from a local paper, claiming that two bodies had been found at Goat mountain. They were both burned beyond recognition, and had to be identified by their dental records.
It was everywhere in the news for a few days and created quite the hubbub around here, and now suddenly, it’s just gone. I can’t find a trace of it anywhere. I don’t know what happened with it, but it’s clear there’s something that someone doesn’t want getting out. That may be the most troubling aspect about all of this.
I know all of this sounds crazy, ludicrous even. I know the mind of a hallucinating individual is not one easily trusted, and I know the things I have written here seem incredible. But at the same time, I’ve been through trips dozens of times before, and I know what I saw. I know it’s the truth, and now I know that it- whatever it is, it’s still out there.