“OB Time” – Shrooming in Joshua Tree

by on November 21, 2014 · 8 comments

in Culture, Life Events, Ocean Beach

Old Hippie ob timeThe Old OB Hippie Speaks – Writes

Shrooming in Joshua Tree is one of my most favorite things to do. I haven’t done it really for decades, but I did it last weekend.  Are you shocked? Are you shocked I would put it in a headline?

Well, I’m here to tell it like it is.

Besides being a naked effort to attract young readers to my column, I wanted to push the online OB Rag more in the direction its original predecessor was – a “real” underground newspaper.  The original Rag published in the first half of the 1970s. It and other allied alternative newspapers in San Diego, like The Door and The San Diego Street Journal, would publish articles about drugs, their effects, reviews, exposing undercover cops, blah blah blah. Other underground newspapers – like the Berkeley Barb – would even post drug prices and qualities.

So, I’m here to be real honest with my readers. I took shrooms – psychedelic mushrooms – last weekend in Joshua Tree. Now, to be honest – they weren’t very good. The did give me plenty of energy that enabled my old legs to climb up the largest pile of rocks near our campsite and to go on other hikes that day.

First of all, my buddy and I started planning for this trip over a month ago. We finally settled on mid-November, thinking that it’s “off-season” and there would be plenty of camping spots in the numerous sites at the beautiful national monument.


We pulled up to the main gate about 1:30 pm on last Friday. The woman ranger said that the only campground still open in the main northern section of the park was Skull Rock – and that a half hour ago, there were only 8 sites left.

Man, we took off – even putting down the pipe for a while to concentrate on getting there. As we pulled into Skull Rock, we got lucky as the van in front of us pulled over to read the campsite info board. We glided around them and after driving slowly up and down the small roads throughout the campground – it has over 120 individual camp sites – we finally found a place, number 60 – right next to a thin rock ridge that gave cover to the site. It had a fire pit, a standup grill and a concrete table – that was it – no water.  We brought our own wood. Fires there are not a danger – as there is hardly any ground cover or trees to burn.

After setting up our large tent and emptying the car, we explored around some – climbing up on the ridge next to our campsite. Once we reached its short top, we could look out over the campgrounds – and have to say, the camp planners did a great job at Skull Rock – they squeezed over a hundred spaces into the area but there are enough jumble rocks and twists and turns to allow nearly every one to have some privacy.

We met our neighbors  – a young, thirty-something couple from Marina Del Rey up in the LA area. They also took shrooms the same day that we did – and theirs weren’t very good either. Weird.

That night – Friday – we drank a bunch of beer and whiskey around the fire – and in the middle of trying to sleep later, my head was pounding and I didn’t sleep very well.

In the morning, we got up early to get a fresh start. After coffee and some light cereal, I chopped up the soggy looking mushrooms and split them up into two cups of yogurt. Ten minutes later we were on our way up to the tallest ridge around – mainly walking, not really climbing. The rocks and boulders in this part of Joshua Tree are so easy to manage – even for an old hippie like me.

Twenty minutes into the hike, my buddy reached the top before me – he’s younger by almost 20 years – and by time I pulled myself up – the pipe was already lit.  The 360 degree view from the top was superbly memorable. We could view nearly the entire northwest section of the park from our position.

Not too long after, a half dozen young kids came bounding up the ridge – some on acid we heard. After doing a little exploring, we started down the hill as the wind really picked up.  We tossed down some potato salad and within a quarter hour, we were off on our next adventure, having realized that the shrooms were just not that good. They did give me juice to make the climb and take other hikes that day – but nothing psychedelic came our way.

Hidden Valley at Joshua Tree is truly one of my fave parts of the park – but this day we wanted to avoid it as we didn’t want to be around crowds – and that 2 mile nature walk can get a little crowded. In the past, I would usually manage to slip off the main trail and follow the dry creek bed or climb up the boulders to one of the top mounts. I’m not talking the type of climbing with ropes, etc, but the type that these boulders in Joshua Tree allow – for some reason, they are friendly, can hold your slippery tennis shoes, and allow humans to bounce around on them.

My stoned buddy and I took another hike not too far from Skull Rock – and there was no one around. We ended up back at the campground, ate some more real food, and drove off to Keys View.  Driving though the forests of gigantic Joshua Trees was astounding but the haze up at the view point prevented us from seeing Palm Springs, the other towns or the Salton Sea.

From there, we  headed into town to get some more wood, more water, more beer, some chocolate and dinner to go, having decided to stick it out one more  night. My buddy was worried about the winds but we didn’t feel any – until much later.

After a mild dinner of barely-warm Mexican food, cold beer and chocolate in front of one of our last fires, we bedded down.  But only for a while.  The winds picked up – and howled the rest of the night.  If we hadn’t been on the tent floor with our gear, that tent would have soared away easily – the winds got so strong. I couldn’t sleep because the tent pole kept banging my head as the tent nearly collapsed several times during the night. We both were glad our spouses didn’t come with us as it would have been a worthless night of cold gale -like air storming our campsite.

Having survived the night, I tried to heat up water for coffee, but it was too cold. So, we took off early for a hot breakfast and someone elses coffee down in the town of Joshua Tree. It was a 23 mile ride – and we checked out our food possibilities. The hip coffee and breakfast place was packed with more than a half hour wait. The vegan place close by wasn’t too busy – but just was not that appealing to us – grizzled, starving, un-washed, wind-burnt survivors.

But the greasy spoon across the  highway was open – and we able to grab a table right away. This place served up ample standard breakfast fare – which was damn good. It is run by an elderly Chinese couple who’ve owned it for 25 years. They even have a few photos of movie and TV stars on their walls.

Replenished, we returned to our camp to do our final breakdown and pack. Ever tried to fold a large tent up in the wind? Fun.

Our ride back to San Diego was effortless and without incident – our only worry about running out of weed.  We looked forward to those hot showers – but savored the memories of the weekend. It took me a couple of days to get back to “normal” whatever that is. But wow! What a place. If you’ve never been to Joshua Tree, you gotta put it on your list. The Spring is a better time to go – so do it. You don’t have to take shrooms. If you do, hope they’re better than ours.


{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

bodysurferbob November 21, 2014 at 11:24 am

this is disgusting. imagine an old hippie taking mushrooms – whow – i’m knocked to the floor.


M November 21, 2014 at 12:03 pm

this is the perfect place for an experience like this. the only thing that i’d probably recommend is driving after taking mushrooms, even if they were “bad”, like described here…


M November 21, 2014 at 12:03 pm

that I probably WOULDN”T recommend**********


Christo November 21, 2014 at 12:29 pm

Summer is the off season in JTree.

Fall, Winter and Spring it is a world famous climbing destination. Lots of friction on those rocks as you noticed.

Sounds like fun!


Frank Gormlie November 21, 2014 at 12:48 pm

Makes sense.


WideAwakeInSanDiego November 21, 2014 at 3:08 pm

Very cool, I’m 99% sure I ran into the source while leaving said hip breakfast place. Great story and great weekend to be up there. The winds at keys view were some of the strongest I’ve ever felt, it was awesome!


Alf November 21, 2014 at 10:34 pm

I have many fond memories of camping at Joshua Tree, staying up all night with telescopes and then rock climbing the next A.M. No shrooms but many wondrous sights.


John November 21, 2014 at 11:59 pm

Keep it up obRag, keep on keeping on, and joshua tree is a fantastic San Diego getaway, shroom it up.


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