What Happened That Day Part 3

by nielskunze on November 8, 2014

(Go to Part 2)

(Author Narration with musical accompaniment)

“Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature… Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.” ― Helen Keller


Days of psychedelic adventuring are always rife with a great deal of nervous anticipation, but it was always the kind that brought smiles to our faces. We were excited to be heading into the unknown… again. This ground, out by Dutch Creek, I had trodden many, many times… but this day we suspected that our explorations might be novel and extreme.

The place where we parked, I had walked through just the day before. There was a deer carcass just a few meters from where our hike began. As I’d walked past it the day before, it was on my right. I automatically interpret animal messages or omens as a curiosity. In my mind, the left side or movement of left-to-right signals a warning best heeded; the right side however, is more positive… so I wasn’t too concerned. Now, had we parked on the path as I normally do, the carcass would still be on our right. However, Mitch was driving, and he always likes to back into a parking spot. Uh-oh, now the dead deer was on our left… that is, until I went to look. It had been dragged from one side of the path to the other… and mostly eaten. Curiously, there were no vultures. As far as omens go… it was getting too complex for me. But one thing of which I was pretty sure was that we shouldn’t hang around a carcass which has just recently been dragged a significant distance by something likely menacingly big.

We jumped right into our adventure, swallowing each a capsule of the pharmahuasca, and then to ascend the path before us. We knew that it would take awhile for the effects to be felt… if they would be at all. At the very least we’d have a wonderful hike in the mountains… away from the tangled skein of portents, hinting at death behind us.

The first part is all uphill. The first leg of our journey scooted by epic views of the hoodoos across the river. They have watched over so much of my life; they watched closely that day, I’m sure.

We headed past the power-line which runs north-south along a bench at the base of the Purcell Mountains, swooping perpendicularly over the creek in the distance– our eventual destination. But first we ventured to the Mesa to further assess our situation, while giving time a chance to seize the day.

Among our trio I have always been a bit of a “canary in the coal mine.” Psychoactive substances always seem to affect me first. My threshold has always been calibrated fairly low. I began to feel something; it was still subtle, but definitely detectable.

We crossed the marshlands– a strange otherworldly sliver in an arid coniferous forest. We got our feet wet… a taste of immersions yet to come. I carried a homeopathic dose of swamp-water to the dry and nearly desolate Mesa in my shoes… inadequate offerings…

The Mesa is the kind of place that makes you feel high in even your soberest moments, but I could hear the knocks upon my doors of perception already before I could even let in those spectacular views… in every direction.

The Mesa is surrounded by mountains. In the distance in the east, the rugged Rockies cut the skyline in bold jagged lines, while at the base of the Purcells where the Mesa is nestled, this elder range rolls in pillowy softness to the horizon of the setting sun. Dutch Creek can be viewed down below, as can the mouth of the canyon. A swath of aspen defines the outlines of the swamp in the valley on the opposite side– where we came from. Even the hoodoos could still scrutinize us from afar… as I’m sure they did that day.

Amidst the dizzying panorama we assessed our individual situations. I reported that I was convinced that I was feeling a mild effect, but it wasn’t really building. We concluded that most of the DMT had been metabolized before the MAO inhibitor could take effect, just as we had suspected might happen. We were fairly confident that the secondary capsules of just pure 5MEO-DMT that we’d brought would do us the courtesy of dissolving our familiar selves into the unknown. We were right.

Jake purposely selected the capsule which appeared to contain the most. I selected the one appearing to have the least. Mitch took the other. We didn’t linger much on the Mesa, suspecting that we wouldn’t want to hike the steep descent when familiar reality was insisting on slipping away for a spell. We hitched up our packs and headed straight for the path down to the river… into the noise and the shadows. The wind nudged us onward as the sky smiled warmly, puffing clouds into every crack in our imaginations.

The first of the slope from the Mesa on its north side provides a steep ridge-line for a path. We rambled down it easily, feeling only sunshine inside and out. Eventually the path cuts through a tiny swath of trees to open on a ledge. We were about halfway to the river at that point. We briefly visited an old friend of mine, the Tree of the Rock, an adult conifer growing straight out of a knuckle of shale. We’d always appreciated life in awkward places, but this was truly inspiring.

We hurried along to complete the final descent. We were all beginning to feel the onward rush of… loosening… of slowly dissolving our… comfort zones. This last bit of the path was always challenging. We scrambled down.

Briefly on the way we greeted another of my old friends, the Hugging Tree. It bows low over the steep path, so that the natural way to get by is to embrace the tree and swing underneath. I formally introduced the Hugging Tree to Jake as we three swung by, and Jake said “Any friend of yours is a friend of mine.”

We completed the last of the treacherous descent into chaos and bliss, arriving at the river’s edge knowing that speech would soon become difficult… not for any lack of co-ordination or ability, but rather because the mind no longer bothers to think in words as the doors of perception fall off their hinges. The last words we spoke, we all spoke the same, one-by-one as we each arrived to view the river up close. “Wow! I sure don’t want to go in there today!”

Dutch Creek was as high as I’d ever seen it. Muddy waves of debris and runoff raced by. The roar of seasonal excess slamming into the Point just upriver from where we stood made conversing unlikely anyway. We each retreated to our chosen outposts. I believe I was the first to venture out to the Point.

I grabbed the steel cable anchored firmly above the bit of sheer rock-face leading to the ledge to the Point. I easily walked across the tiny cliff, tracing the path of a pendulum above the churning last gasps of winter’s wrath now humbled and hurt. From the ledge it was an easy jaunt to the space on top of the Point. It was… it was… overwhelming!

The unending onrush of spring’s scouring pounded with outrageous violence against the side of the Point. Whole trees were caught naked in the back-eddies along the rest of the cliff. Even the wind tussled the forest and me. I wanted to get settled into the new and temporary parameters of my perception, but this place, the Point, was not the place to let go… too dynamic… overstimulating… consumptive. I retraced my way back to the proper riverbank, plunked myself down among some rounded river stones, and began in earnest to explore some of the alterations to my sensations and conceits, while the sky and the valley danced to pixelated dissolution around me… I was invited to dissolve into a subset of forest energy… into clouds… and mounds, and especially stones… to momentarily give up my preferences to remaining human.

I could dissolve my body at will, and then quickly regain my human form as I desired. The breathtaking landscape and skyline surrounding and pervading me could be set to melt and merge, one element into another. Or I could choose to focus in the old-fashioned way and bring everything back to separation, definition… its old worn-out syntax. I felt that as far as psychedelics go I was both pleased with the effects I was experiencing as well as the degree of control I maintained through willfully abrupt shifts in perception. I liked it.

Our introspective explorations lasted a few hours. As we later began to regroup, Mitch concurred that the degree of control we could muster through our altered perceptions was very welcome, inspiring… and… seductive. Perhaps that feature of the trip engendered a reckless confidence. We both then noted that Jake seemed to still be hovering at the peak of the experience. Mitch suggested that he roll a joint for the two of us as we awaited the termination of Jake’s adventure– to which I agreed. I then went over to where my pack was, to retrieve clean drinking water.

I have already described the strange pantomime enacted by Jake for my sole mystifying benefit before he finally took his turn out at the Point. Moments later Jake was in the river, and we were all drowning in a reality suddenly way too real.

After I sprinted downriver to glimpse him one last time, hopelessly in the distance, after I lost all perception of him, after I had thoroughly freaked out from the vividness of the day and its unfathomable events, I settled back into the reality I was most familiar with. We dealt with the situation as best we could.

We journeyed homeward… three had gone out, and only two had come back. We followed the course of the river down toward the hoodoos, keeping a keen eye out for any sign of Jake. He was gone… and the river raged indifferently on.

Eventually, we were at the place on the river near the community where my parents live. The next logical step was to go to their house to phone the RCMP. Mitch and I burst into my parents’ kitchen where the two of them were quietly playing a game at the kitchen table. “Jake fell in the river,” I immediately blurted out.

Their faces fell. “What do you mean, Jake fell in the river?”

“We think he’s dead.”

My parents sprang into action, rousing the neighbours to begin the search. I got on the phone to the police. Our private and personal tragedy was now a community event.

It was my mother who quickly located Jake’s body, guided by intuition. He had washed up on an island in the river only meters from where Mitch and I had turned away. With a safety rope and heroic determination some of the neighbours set about bringing his body back to the shoreline where we stood. Once accomplished, they mercifully prevented Mitch and me from getting too close. “That’s not your friend anymore,” they said. They were right, of course.

The police arrived, asking questions. Mitch and I were separated to give our personal accountings of exactly what happened that day…

What Happened That Day Part 3 from Niels Kunze on Vimeo.

A video re-creation of the journey taken that day…

Proceed to Part 4

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