How LSD Helped Me Ditch My Crutches and Scale Mountains
All around me was the undeniable majesty of Joshua Tree.
I’d thought I’d be floored by the alien tree structures, since that’s what
the national park is named after, but I had not expected the gorgeous prehistoric-feeling rock formations stacking into the sky.
All this around me, and I was on crutches, my hip a mess.
I had come to Joshua Tree to celebrate New Year’s Eve by tripping with nine of my best friends. We’d scoped the expansive park and found the place we wanted to use as our base camp for the day’s adventures. We had all our provisions set up — blankets to deal with the cold we knew would come with the desert dusk, a tab of LSD for each of us, snacks for those who could eat while tripping, and our mascot Sparticus, a baby eagle stuffed animal who would watch over our stuff while we were off exploring. He’s very astute with those eagle eyes. And I, of course, had my crutches. I couldn’t part with them without extreme hip pain.
Let me interrupt myself to say that crutches are by no means the worst thing to happen to an adventuring person, or any person really. My injury had only been going on for a couple months, whereas some people live with differently abled bodies for their entire lives and are able to conquer mountains far greater than the piles of rocks in Joshua Tree National Park. But crutches and leg injuries alike are a hindrance, to say the least, to off-roading — particularly to someone unpracticed in navigating uneven terrain with crutches. I was worried about my ability to keep up with my more able-bodied friends during our trip, but tried not to let it phase me.
So there we were, provisions all around us, bundled in coats against the cold. We passed out the tabs of acid, we toasted, and we dropped. And then we waited.
We reminded ourselves of the cardinal rules of tripping: Gravity is real. Drugs are not food. Beer is not water. Cars are real. To which we added, for the particularities of our setting: Everything is sharp. Because if you’ve ever been to Joshua Tree, you’ll know that all the plants out there are pretty much of the cactus variety, and the rocks are also very pointy. Already before the acid kicked in, one of our party sat on a cactus, “Unintentionally”, she explained as we took turns picking nearly invisible prickers out of her butt. As if anyone would wittingly opt for that unpleasant experience.
And then suddenly, up we went. First a glimmer and that familiar vibrate-y feeling in our stomachs and extremities, and then the rocks started to shimmer and melt into giant embracing gorillas. We sat there, perched on the rocks, as we acclimated to our new reality. And then, one by one, my friends peeled off to explore.