Wakarusa: Part 5 (Diverging)

Yall who read these regularly know what's coming; an apology. These Wakarusa posts have woefully underrepresented the magic experienced there. I'm not fretting though, writing them and witnessing my friends enjoy them has been a sacred experience I'm thankful for. These writings are just creative flags I plant for my memory. A useful lesson to learn early is that the past is never revivable, relivable, or frankly, reliable. At best these posts will serve as little buoys for myself and my friends, which will guide us back to our subjective, magical experiences. I love yall. Thanks for reading.

The one sober morning 

The last morning of Wakarusa was weird. I was ready to leave. Wakarusa felt like it was something we endured. The sun was relentless, sleep hid from us, and the porta-potties assaulted us. The drugs were assertive in their teachings, and our stenches were evolving. Our stenches had stenches. I hadn't felt a shower or an air conditioner in 4 days.

My imagination is pleading with me to exaggerate and compare the festival to ancient mystery religions; where neophytes were guided through psychological ordeal after psychological ordeal, each challenge symbolic and harboring a lesson. Nature as our wise guide, the psychedelics as our sacraments. Waka felt like that to me. I felt like I was dealt ordeals. I felt like I learned lessons.

Given the state we were all in, as we started packing, I began trying to put our trip in perspective. The first fact that started resonating was our lack of bickering. It took some attention to realize the absences. We had been around each other, in close and uncomfortable proximity, for almost a week and there hadn't been a single argument. I took a few moments that morning to bask in the connection we cultivated here. I've got at least a dozen consciousnesses I've found through the seven billion headed crowd who I've genuinely connected with. Thank you.

By early noon we were ready to leave. We left the mountain and headed toward the nearest gas station. Using an actual toilet, feeling the AC caress my sunburnt neck, and drinking that blue Gatorade sugar water was a near religious experiences. I fucking knew hedonic adaption was already at work and that I'd get use to this glory, but for a good 15 minutes, that gas station was better than sex.

We all agreed to postpone our farewell and go to a local sushi place for lunch. The place was a hidden gem. Six dollar Unagi roll? Sex. I miss that place.

After we ate and relaxed, we reluctantly met in the parking lot. Sheepishly, we gathered in a group hug, said some words, shared some love, and said goodbye. The group hug was my idea to avoid a long, drawn-out farewell. Well, after the group hug, my plan failed. Everyone splintered off to give their personal good-bye to everyone. And that's exactly as it should have been. We all know we'll see each other again so it wasn't too sad.

Wakarusa was memorable. Being with you all was more meaningful. I look forward to growing and dying with yall. Namasteezy. 

Wakarusa: Part 4 (Love)

Wide Lens

Our ego's eyes know only the symbolic. Our symbols are rooted in our evolutionary history. If we choose to modal consciousness as a computer program, downloading symbol-interpreting software will act as a data-compression algorithm, that is to say, if you teach yourself how to understand the symbolic life, you will understand life's sea of data more clearly, more wholly, thus making life more holy. Symbols are the stone blocks to the pyramid of Myth. Imbuing your life with myth imbues 21st century materialistic existential existence with magic. Myth is my religion; symbols the language of my Goddess, and Growth my daemon. 

We are free to choose our reality tunnel. This is our Promethean gift. You waste your godhead when you unconsciously live through someone else's reality lens. Waking up is consciously molding your own. This blog has been, and still is, my attempt at consciously molding my own. Thank you for following along. I hope at some point you'll share your reality perspective with me. I love you. 

Narrow Lens 

Today is Saturday, day three of Wakarusa. I know today is my last day taking drugs. I need a recovery day, but today anit that day, SON  * que Joe Rogan voice.*

I throw back 3 grams of mushrooms, chew ferociously, (ironically my favorite symphony of atoms makes me gag every time), and gulp it down with water. Not consciously, but likely consciously subconscious, I'm dehydrated and haven't ate since last night, so these 3 grams are going to feel like 6. And maybe this is physiologically true, or maybe its placebo, but subjectively, it's going to be as true as true gets. 

As I wait with most of my tribe, I start thinking about Katrisa. And thus, not knowing at the time, I kickstart the spiraling, fugue like, recursive loop that would be my psychedelic adventure today. 


I'm at the campsite with almost the entire tribe. The time is around 5 in the evening. Our base is a good 20 minute hike from where Wakarusa's main action is vulspating. The only people down in that mesh is my girlfriend Katrisa, and Hannah. They're going to be roommates soon and they have been bonding this trip. Katrisa is down there metabolizing with Lysergic acid diethylamide. It's only her second time playing with Lucy and of course I'm worrying.

I'm projecting my psychological shortcomings onto her. The chaos of Waka would send me spiraling into a bad trip, but Katrisa is on a higher level than me when it comes to navigating the psychedelics terran. She embodies Grace. Where I'd trip on some negative energy, she dances around, laughing, looking to help me up.

Earlier this day she decided she'd eat 3 grams of mushrooms in the morning then head to Wakarusa in the evening on LSD. Flowing from a place of fear, I tried talking her out of doing this. She gently brushed off my worries. Aggravated, convincing myself I was moving from a place of love and not fear (I was definitely moving from a place of fear), I accused her of being greedy in front of our entire group.

I felt the words land like a slap and I regretted it. She very honestly responded that the remark hurt her feelings and that she genuinely didn't think she was being greedy. She was right. The calmness with which she offered each word convinced me. I apologized, measured out her mushrooms, apologized again, and watched her nibble on the fungus while we all talked.

After about an hour, I asked her if she would like to go on a walk. Wide-eyed, she beamed, "Of course." Her, myself, and another friend, Marge, started walking around the forested campsite we were settled in.

I've worn the mushroom googles enough to almost place myself behind Katrisa's eyes without the fungus. I asked observational questions to her that I knew would spark her to settle into the mushroom trip. "What does that tree's leaf feel like it's function is?" "Does that plant look like its safe to touch?" "What does the ground tell you happened here last night?"

Her answers hugged my heart. With the awe of a child, I witnessed her experiencing nature in a novel way. I love her, I love that fungus. I love being a guide. We walked, talked, and observed for an hour or so. It is a beautiful memory.

This is what I thought about during my come up. 


We started our trek towards Waka. Like last night, we headed to the party in the evening. The beaming sun was starting to relax and Luna was beginning to take over. But where last night's hike into the festival was bursting with color and life, today's adventure, as experienced through my eyes, was very different.

About 10 minutes into our descent, I knew today was going to be harder for me. Yesterday was all positives, no lessons. Today, Mama Mushy was going to be teaching me.

I was hinted to the trip to come by the kind of visual alterations I was experiencing. Instead of a master painter's splashing paint brush, my vision was filtered through a low saturation lens. I was reminded of Mad Max. Color seemed as if it had been sucked out of the environment. I felt my mind starting to worry, "Is this a reflection of your neurons?" "Have you exhausted your neurotransmitters?" These kinds of unknowable, existential questions tend to be automatic when I'm high enough, but I've done the work, and I can guide my mind away from them. 

Rising Action

There is a little hill you walk onto that is about 5 minutes away from the festival. Once you've gotten to the top of, you can see the entire organism. This image is where my stomach dropped and the trip turned from mildly unpleasant to gut-clenching nausea.

How was I going to find Katrisa in that? No phones. No plan. My ego shook.

As I started feeling worse, my thoughts started growing in their irrationality. I thought "what if I'm sensing Katrisa's bad trip?" As soon as that spell entered my consciousness, I entered the hardest 90 minutes of my Wakarusa adventures. 

As we're walking into Wakarusa, the crowd is starting to really get to me. My nervous system is sensitive and there is so much information to process. My mind is frantically worrying. 

"I'll never find her is this crowd." 

"Why didn't we use walkie-talkies or phones?" 

"Fuck, there are like 10,000 people throughout this place." 

"What if she's freaking out? Can Hannah help her?" 

I'm shaking. I'm sweating. I'm either dehydrated or having a mild panic attack. (An interesting perspective to explore from my comfortable sobriety is whether my thoughts caused the physical symptoms (panic attack), or whether I was physiologically dehydrated and my mind was trying to think thoughts that justified the physical reality my body was experiencing. This is a one of the fundamental questions of psychology and we don't have a hard answer for the question.)

I waddled over to a vendor and did my best to not look like a bearded Jew having a psychological crisis, "Can I get a green juice please?" Once that sweet nectar met my lips my visual field splashed with color. The peak was arriving, I was hydrated, but I was still emotionally contorted. It was a very weird experience, visually my present was beautiful and vibrant and dancing, mentally, I was still constricted, worried, and weak. 

We headed to the stage where Glass Animals would be playing in about half an hour. We knew Katrisa and Hannah would be there eventually. We laid down a few blankets in the very back of the venue and sat. I remember having pleasant conversations with my friends, and admiring the shroom lenses, but internally, I was only focused on finding Katrisa. 

As a quick aside, I need to mention, A small whisper in me knew everything would be okay. I'm at a weird stage in my life. I've inherited very powerful anxiety and paranoia from both my parents. I think most of us have. Yet, my personal experience of life has only validated the perspective that all is meant to be, that I am being watched after, and that if I listen carefully and pick my wishes wisely, sometimes reality will even bend for me. I look forward to the day I heal completely the paranoid child I had to cultivated that protected me through my childhood. 


After waiting cross-legged and anxious, I saw some people walking toward us. They were a good 50-60 yards away but I knew. I stood up and started walking towards them. I was ecstatic. Those cheesy scenes in bad rom-coms flickered through my mind but fuck that. This was genuine bliss. As Katrisa got closer I could see the glow in her eyes. She hadn't had a single negative moment on LSD. It was all in my mind. Our smiles resonated off each other until our facial muscles started cramping and we hugged. 

All negativity washed away in the glow of her presence. She didn't know what I had been through so after she hugged me she went to each person in our group and had genuine greetings with all of them. 

The biggest lesson of today's trip was starting to take form. 

I returned to my spot on the blanket. After the reuniting, Katrisa, Kalyn, and Zach left our little encampment and started to the front for Glass Animals. Paige, an energy more connected to mine then most, after Kat and them had left, asked me about the moment I saw Katrisa. 

'What happened there? You looked so happy. It was really sweet to see."

She knew something significant had to have been churning in me for me to act that way when I saw Katrisa. I tried explaining my trip to Paige. Words were not surrendering themselves to me adequately, but she got it. She smiled and offered me the only sound that was need. "Aww." 

About halfway through Glass Animal's set, Katrisa and them came back. I was still processing my emotional bungee bump but Katrisa was on a higher plane. She came to me, eyes blowing, kissed me, and grabbed a friend's Poi balls, (they're these neon lights at the end of a string that dancers use at festivals.) 

She only started using this toy yesterday. Glowing orbs in hand, she walked away from us, totally in her own headspace, and started dancing. She moved in a way completely beyond her skill level. Those of us paying attention looked on in gentle disbelief. 


This is when the vacation, the night, and my relationship with Katrisa culminated. Her dancing, dancing for only her own enjoyment, without a fucking care who saw or who judged, was the symbolic completion of our relationship as it had been up to that point. 

I think all of us in our early adulthood are wounded. Life afflicts us. I think the highest purpose of relationships, both sexual and non sexual, at our stage of development, is to heal each other. I think both sexes have it rough, but I think girls have a harder time than men. 

Our culture is weird. Life is weird. There seems to be a built in tragedy to parenting and loving. Loving someone completely, correctly, heals them in a way where they no longer need the loving. There are too many wounded people to be selfish with the good ones. Katrisa is one of the good ones. Her love is going to heal other people. 

We're going our separate ways when she leaves for college. This had been a subconscious wound in my  mind for months that had been treated by this trip. This moment. 

This day, with the mushroom hike and the LSD night, I witnessed Katrisa's healing complete itself. She didn't need me anymore. Thats what was at the core of this entire trip. Honestly, she had probably reached this new level of wholeness awhile ago, but this trip was for me to realize it. 

The moment this lesson landed, bittersweet tears filled my eyes. I had done a good job. This has been the type of relationship I dreamed of, but I hadn't adequately prepared for what success would feel like. Success is us walking away, healed, ready to heal others. I'm confident our paths will intersect again. Until then, this quote will hold me over; 

(Aldous Huxley and his about-to-be-wedded wife talking moments before the wedding)

"You know, darling, I love others, too." 

To which Aldous quickly responded;

"It would be awful if you didn't." 

And that succinctly sums up how I feel. 

I love you Katrisa. Thank you for healing me. 


After the drugs wore off, we stayed late and caught Major Lazer. We danced in Luna's light late into the night. Together, in a crowd of thousands. We left after hearing my favorite song. We shared other favorites and laughs. Cuddled on a cramped air mattress, still whispering love. Lazer's bassnotes lulled us to sleep. 

Wakarusa: Part 3 The Peak

Nietzsche's Echo

Wakarusa was my first music festival, but I've been thinking about going to one for years. I occasionally walk and read. One of my favorite symbol-warping primates to resurrect by reading their work is Nietzsche. The man was a genius if the word has any meaning. I highly recommend. Something he said connected with me and my urge to go to a music festival.

Nietzsche's first major work, which he published in his early 20's, after already being hired as a professor at the top University in the most respected intellectual country in Europe, focused on Ancient Greece. Particularly, he focused on the two major zeitgeists he observed in their culture; the Apollonian and Dionysian spirits.

The Apollonian spirit was represented by the Greek God of the sun; Apollo. He symbolized light, sobriety, and reason. This was the part of the Greek culture that fueled the creation of Democracy, philosophy, reason, and literature. This was the zeitgeist of the aristocracy, the politicians, and society's enforcers.

The Dionysian spirit was represented by the Greek God of wine; Dionysus. He symbolized night, intoxication, and emotion. This was the part of the Greek culture that fueled the Oracles, the mystery religions, and the arts. This was the zeitgeist of the slaves, the poor, and the creatives.

These forces are still in play in our time. The Apollonian spirit is coursing through our stock market, the sober families following the "normal" life, and your friend who thinks smoking weed is bad but drinks coffee and smokes cigarettes.

Dionysus is here too. He pulsates through every subwoofing bass note, and he spills through every music festival and vibrates along every rave. He is the reducing valve. Our generation was close to a full scale revolution a couple of years ago. Music festivals are one of a few ways our generation lets off our frustration. We tolerate the economic perversion we're slaves to so that once every few moons we can ingest a chemical and dance through the night.

Most of us don't have the symbolic tool kit to realize this is what we're doing. And this is only one perspective, but its the lens through which I experienced my 2nd full day of Wakarusa.

Waka's Reflection

Waka reflected Nietzsche's insight. Waka at light was a very different place then Waka at night. Friday we explored Waka's grounds a little more, a little sober. He checked out each stage and just got more familiar with the area. The sun, Apollo, loomed heavy the entire day. After a few hours of walking, and liters of fluids lost and restored, half of us went back to camp around dusk to plan out our evening's activities. The other half headed to the Main Stage. Those who stayed at the main staged ingested LSD. Those of us at the campsite, we ate mushrooms. I ate 1.5 grams of dried mushrooms.

Myself, and a few friends walked back down from our campsite to the party. The walk was a good 20 minute hike down hill. It was dusk and the mushrooms were metabolizing quickly because I hadn't ate that day. This evening was the most beautiful so far. The setting sun was splashing the sky with dozens of hues of orange, purples, and blues. Rain clouds make for the best sunsets. I seem to always take mushrooms on these kinds of days. I'm lucky in a lot of ways.

This was the night I got to see Chance The Rapper. With a good couple thousand people around me, I bobbed and buzzed with Chance's set. A few times I got distracted by the super massive nuclear sphere that was setting, but Chance was good too.

An interesting aside, artists with Chance's level of success, they seem to talk to the crowd as if the collective crowd was a lover they're trying to woo. Chance was a little aggressive but sweet too, the lady before him was flirty but relaxed. Maybe it was the mushies, maybe it's a real technique they knowingly use, maybe it's a natural subconscious act. Maybe I'm wrong. Life is weird. I enjoyed playing with the idea.

I watched Chance away from my tribe while I peaked. When his set was ending, I headed back to were my group was chilling. Dusk had passed. Night was here. Shit was going to get weird.

Friday Night, Waka's Night 

Paige feels like my Anima. Words fall short expressing our bond. She feels almost like a feminine extension of myself. LSD is her child. Paige was exposed to LSD at an age where her brain's physical structure was molded by her heavy use. She literally has an LSD brain. Dionysus Bless her. This night, she got to reunite her neurochemical LSD pathways with the serotonin simulacrum again. And she got to do it with her lover, Kalyn.

It was her Cheshire-esque smile I noticed first when I reunited with my group. I'm sure my smile was just as broad. We were both connecting will with our favorite chemicals. We were tuned-in.

Seeing these two beautiful female energies buzz and vibe with each other through the chaos of Waka at night was one of my favorite Wakarusa moments. The love crackling between every whispered joke, random animal sound, and the constant laughter electrified me. Their bliss brought me another level higher. Thank you both. I love you.

They were the exceptions. All of our other friends who ingested LSD this night were being taught different lessons, difficult lessons. LSD is very different then the way its portrayed in almost all media. It is not an automatic enlightenment device. It is an amplifer. It is a jumbler. It is not predictable.

We had one friend who insisted on taking two doses. He was given the toughest lesson. We had another who expected answer's from Lucy. He was taught a milder lesson. We had a third who was the youngest, and honestly, I don't know what her lesson was. They all endured though. They're strong.

One of my favorite moments from that night was guiding the two love foxes, Paige and Kalyn, to a bathroom. They were both still very into their LSD adventure and I was sliding down my mushroom high. I lead them through the night. We walked through fire dancers, 8 foot tall custom created creature costumes, buzzing hula-hoop dancers, neon kite flyers, and some of the most drugged out lost souls I've ever seen.

I felt strong and purposeful guiding them through the chaos. They mentioned the next morning that I was walking differently and that they enjoyed seeing me in such a positive state. Its hard to articulate, but I could feel their admiration for me that night and it boosted my ego. I love them. There is something powerful about being with a group of people you really love and you know they really love you.

We all made it back to our tents. We enjoyed the little sleep we got. Waka waka waka.

You don't get to choose your family, but you get to choose your Tribe. I'm thankful the universe has provided me with such awesome choices. Namasteezy.  

Wakarusa: Part 2 (MDA)

I want to start with an apology. My words will never come close to the actual experiences I'm hoping to capture. This is simply the way it will always be, but writing is my net and with it I continue to earnestly flail in the darkness, hoping to capture a cloud.

The first night at Wakarusa was the first night all of us had gathered in the same place. It's fitting. The love chemically bound in MDA is the force that manifested our group, this trip, and whatever our future entails. I'm glad we chose to do it. I love yall.

It had been a foreign feeling to me before this year; sitting in a decent size group, truly feeling like each person was a brother or sister; an Other I'd die for. I had never known this kind of love. MDA opened that door for me. The beautiful part, and the part that really highlights the evil of drug laws, is that the door stays open afterwards. You get to bring a little shard of the experience into your sober life. It sits in a pocket in your mind like a little smiling ruby. You learn how to love people in a way that heals you, and them.

When I look around me, I see too many people who don't know how to love. They don't know how to truly give love, which is one thing, but most of them also don't know how to receive love. That is tragic. How to give and receive love are lessons our parents are suppose to teach us. But they didn't know, and their parents didn't know.

Our parents weren't evil. They were the chained ones in Plato's cave. They were molded by Mass Media, Corporate Marketing, and Political Propaganda. In my more raw moments, I cry thinking about how badly our parents were psychologically thrashed. But we don't have their excuse. We have the internet. We're the generation that gets to glimpse Plato's sun. We're responsible to go back in that cave and bring our people into the light.

My Gift

I knew we'd be taking MDA, and I've felt her embrace enough to know that I could do some genuine self-exploring. So I wrote down and meditated on receiving some kind of motivation that would propel me into writing my first book. I know I've got the basic skills down, but I don't know what I want to say or who I want to say it too. Well, Sassy heard this poor boys call and looked at me like a knowing mother looks at her son. She knew I knew, but she knew I needed to be reminded.

I was sitting next to my dredhead friend, Rob. He's about my height (6'3), shredded, with wolf-esque features and, endearingly ironic, a completely puppy-like energy about him. He could break you but he'd rather hug you. Well, he was kinda just talking out loud (when the sassy hit all of us, we all fragmented into energetic personal conversations with those next to us), that he wished he could record these kinds of evenings for our children but he didn't feel he was was good enough with language to do so well.

And like a Zues damn lightening bolt, I realized who my audience was and what needed to be said. I'm going to write about our experiences together. I'm going to write for our children. And I'm not going to write to them like they are pure, innocent creatures to be protected. I'm going to write to them as they are; flawed, dirty, raw humans who will experience the love and woe of life. I'm going to talk to them as equals. I want to clean every piece of precious stone we bring back from our psychedelic excavations and hand them each jeweled crowns.

That was my peak MDA moment. I regret I can't articulate my friend's MDA gifts. Sadley, as much of my own experiences are lost when I try snaring them in words, even more is lost when trying to capture another's experience. So I have an idea. ( I know all you beautiful people will read this, so, I think we should all write our personal experiences after a trip, and I'll proofread them. Your kid would want to hear how his ancestral genes experienced LSD, not how the jewy looking one sat silently for 4 hours.)


There were two similar and pretty dramatic experiences. Two girls, in our group of 13, had some psychological blockage during their trips. Without revealing any sensitive information, I want to share the experience with anyone who might use psychedelic substances. It was definitely a learning experience.

In my experience, its powerfully apparent that our minds, both conscious and subconscious, work symbolically. Water heals, fire cleanses, winds change, rotting flesh is bad, etc. Symbolical thinking is rooted in our evolutionary history. Throwing up is symbolic.

Most people, when they are having a bad trip, feel like they need to vomit. Some psychedelics actually demand this, such as mescaline and ayahuasca. It is after the purging that the bliss sets in. I think MDA, for these two women, demanded this same sacrifice. It was both of their first time taking MDA. This chemical really cleans out the emotional gunk in our mind and body. I think both of theirs were gunked up too such an extent that they needed to vomit. Both, afterwards, while sober, separately admitted that the vomiting felt symbolic, felt cleansing, like they were ridding themselves of negative thoughts, emotions, etc. So to all my friends who explore the psychedelic landscape, if you feel you need to purge, grab a trashcan and let the negativity go. Bring listerine.

Anti-Addiction Apparatus 

MDA has a built in safety valve. The come down. Sassy lifts you up to such an intense blissful realm of consciousness that once you are set back down to baseline, baseline feels like a slight depression. You learn a lot about yourself and about others when you watch how you and they handle the climb, the peak, and the slide down. I learned a valuable lesson from one of our friends tripping down their come down.

I talk a lot. When carried away, I can give advice when it isn't asked for, I critique when it isn't necessary, and I can smudge facts to keep the flow of a monologue going. Talking too much is a kind of gluttony. You're eating up the attention of those listening. I saw a hyperbolic version of these qualities in my friend. We had passed our peak and I could see him frantically trying to claw back up the hill with language. He was denying his come down. He tried sharing stories, dreams, even tried predicting the future. I just wanted to hug him. But, in the moment, I was too distracted by my come down to help. I'm sorry Todd.

Resonating Ripples 

We don't get to pick our family, but we get to pick our tribe. I sincerely think the most important part of young adulthood is finding your tribe. These are the people you'll grow with, suffer with, succeed with, and raise your kids with. I wish a genuine good luck to all the wounded ones who think they can thrive through life alone, (all you alphas out there, I doubt any read this, but being an alpha is lonely. Climb off your throne and live with your people.)

Words can be trite. I just want to say thank you. To the people who receive my love, give love back, and those of you who read my creations. I love you. I love nurturing the creative in my friends and family. I think every time I share MDA with a friend, I'm adding to a ripple. Everyone is welcome in my pond. I love yall. Thank you for reading and namasteezy. 

Wakarusa: Part 1

I wanna thank you, the nameless energy that has entered my life in the last couple of the years. The energy that has allowed me these amazing connections and opportunities. Some times I feel guilty because of how lucky I feel. I try to remain humble, keep thanking, and loving freely. I hope you keep winking at us. I'll keep looking and blushing everytime I catch your love. Namaste.

I'd also like to thank you. We have such a small amount of attention to spend each day. You honor me by giving these words some of yours. I hope to reward the attention you paid with genuine thoughts, hopefully some smiles, and, if I'm lucky, a little sense of the love and adventure we experienced this past week. 

Wakarusa feels ephemeral, like a dream. My intention is to wrap my linguistic net around her and bring a part of the experience into the material. This has become one of my rituals. I enjoy it. I love you. Okay, lets start.

The first day of Wakarusa was the longest. We arrived at the top of the Arkansas mountain a little after midnight. Our tribe's convoy was three vehicles, 11 beautiful people deep. We were 3 of hundreds of cars being funneled through a large open field. Cars were searched, tagged, and guided to camping grounds. Our group was split up amongst the chaos, which queued a motif that resonated through our entire trip; we worked as a team to find, communicate, and reunite with each other. Dreds bouncing, cell phones ringing, and lovingly worried chatter filled our first four hours of Wakarusa processing. We made it. Drake was quoted frequently.

Once reunited at the campground, we started setting up camp. All three cars were parked next to each other and we used five tents each facing a common space in the middle to create a little town square between our tents. We put up a pavilion and chairs, coolers and tarps, and finished well after the sun had risen. Our first seven hours of Wakarusa were over and we could sleep.

"Fuck naw," said the sun. We all slept about two hours before we were awakened by our sweat charging aggressively into our eyes. Mama Waka had plans for us. Sleep was not one.

To give a little background, Wakarusa is a festival in Arkansas thats set atop a mountain in Ozark. At the top of this mountain is a little plateau a couple of acres wide. This is where the festival is held. All around the trees hug the sides.

I was the first one up, as I waited for my family to waka up too, I wrote a little. This was is my notebook from the first morning;

 "Thursday morning. Tired. No one will be sleeping. Napping is the best we can hope for. Feels crowded. A lot is unknown. Today will be a day of exploration and lessons. I've slept maybe 4 hours. Probably not. A part of me feels my softness, my dependence on comfort. Lets exercise that muscle." 

This captures the essence of Waka for me. We were never comfortable. Everyday was a mild ordeal. This is my kind of vacation. As a group we were challenged by nature and ourselves, everyday some grew a little, others grew a lot. Mama Waka was teaching us.

That first day, once everyone was awaka and we all shared our similar discomfort and weather analysis, we explored.

Personally, I get bored when I get to parts in books where the author spends a couple pages explaining the way a place looked, so please allow me to be brief. Waka was large, crowded, held 5 stages, dozens of food and merchandise vendors, and a lot of foul smelling portapotties. We explored Waka that day and headed back to camp for the first real adventure. Sharing MDA among 11, then 13, friends.