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Into the Great Wide Open

Mar 25, 2018 10:48PM ● Published by Ricardo Baca

With winter almost behind us, it’s time to start weaning from the Netflix binges, cover those unfinished DIY home projects with a big sheet, and call the hot chocolate-by-the-fire-fueled #relationshipgoals good and met. 

Throwing open the windows to let in the crisp spring air always gets me psyched to put the plans in motion for some warm-weather diversions paired with cannabis. While some people find that they’re most comfortable consuming in a confined and tightly controlled space, many of us prefer to explore our natural substances — be it cannabis or psilocybin — while also exploring nature, believing that the experience is very much enhanced by being immersed in an organic environment. 

Don’t get me wrong: Getting high indoors is great. You decide what the temperature will be, steep that mug of hot tea whenever it’s convenient, wrap yourself in a snuggy blankie, and settle in knowing that all is well in your little self-made world. 

But getting high in the outdoors can be truly life-changing. It’s not just that nature is good for us: Study after scientific study has proven that spending time surrounded by red rock, relaxing on a beach, walking through the woods, or paddling down a river can relieve stress, improve focus, diminish depression, and restore us physically and mentally. It’s also true that, submerged in the natural world, things are simplified but also amplified — and because cannabis is an amplifier as well, the inherent beauty and giddy sense of discovery are magnified on a grand scale. 

In addition, it’s still entirely possible to continue controlling some aspects — you can bring along your favorite beverage in a bota bag, or settle into the tent with the rain fly open to the cooling night sky. It does make sense to consider the setting and adjust your consumption accordingly. For instance, where others might overconsume alcohol and get silly, if I’m camping and know that we’re sedentary for the night — our tent is set up and we’ve lost track of our car keys, so we’re not going anywhere — I might have more cannabis than I normally do, maybe a solid indica-based edible in the hopes that I sleep better that night on the cold, hard ground. 

In fact, consuming cannabis al fresco has led me to some truly extraordinary adventures. 

Of course, I will always remember fondly my first time combining open air and edibles: Some friends and I were rafting the Lower Colorado River between Loma (Colorado) and Westwater (Utah), and we had brought along some chocolate mint cookies to share at the campsite. These were the early days, and so we were a little uncertain about dosage. I wound up getting so high and so absorbed in the campfire-heightened ambiance and the often hilarious and sometimes deeply contemplative conversation that I completely forgot the river was rushing along beside us — and when it hit me, it was a joyous realization all over again.

In the months that followed that fun, I was able to nail down my own tolerance and began to better ingest within my limits, which wound up being helpful during a trip to Eindhoven in the Netherlands. Not far from Amsterdam — where space cake-selling coffeeshops are in abundance — Eindhoven is home to the famous Van Gogh-Roosegaarde bike path, which beckoned with its twinkly, solar-charged lights embedded in stone, meant to evoke the artist’s trippy and surreal painting The Starry Night.

My wife and I told our host we wanted to check it out, so he walked us over to the train station and helped us rent bikes, and then took us all around the area, from busy streets lined with amazing public art to the rural area where our friend was raised. That’s when we pedaled onto this mind-blowing path, which at dusk was just beginning to release the sunrays it had been absorbing all day. We already had been gently lifted earlier from pieces of space cake, and that helped to elevate this to the otherworldly, with these multicolored lights like stars springing up from the pebbles as we meandered along, past windmills from other Van Gogh paintings and through tree-lined open spaces.

  

Along a more reflective vein, many would argue that fishing is somewhat of a meditative sport, and cannabis is a meditative medicine — and so when combining the two, it’s no surprise that it can be an enchanting experience. Patience is obviously a top requirement (that’s why they call it fishing and not catching), and it’s that requisite steadfastness and dedication that appeals to me — which brings me to the time my wife and I had a day off, and I heard Colorado’s Clear Creek calling our names.

She graciously offered to be designated driver, and so armed with a bottle of wine, a 10 mg edible and a couple of fly rods, we headed out. As I became pleasantly elevated, I waded out into the middle of this isolated section of stream and waited for the trout to find my dry fly. I got a couple on but never landed anything, but it was still such a special and meaningful day: I was with my lady, outside in the fresh, warm air and water, released from my day-to-day obligations, and there was no place in the world that I would rather have been at that moment.

Of course, as when ingesting any psychoactive substance, safety is essential. In the Netherlands, I felt completely comfortable with my dosage, and having a guide along was key. And while I don’t smoke flower, most cannabis consumers do, and so always be hyper- aware of where that roach winds up and that fires are completely out. Of course having a designated driver picked out before you imbibe is a must.

Also, as legalization spreads across the country, it’s worth noting that consumption of any and all kinds is still very much illegal on federal lands — which includes national parks, national forests and designated wilderness areas. But otherwise, enjoy that sun-grown underneath the sun.  

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