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smoking weed in the woods

Blazing in the Woods

Photos by the author.

This past Christmas, I unwittingly lit a joint in the first place I had ever smoked weed. A distinct memory didn’t strike me when I lit up. Instead, I was hit by a sense of déjà vu. As I crouched by the back door in my dad’s garage, I was as scared about the garage door opening and my father catching me as I was when I was 14 years old. As an avid Weediquette reader, my dad probably wouldn’t give me too much shit about it now, but at age 14, I would have faced some pretty serious wrath—that’s why I had to find refuge in nature.

I was the new kid at the school where my dad lived, and I still hadn’t made any friends by the time spring rolled around, so I joined the track team, so I had something to occupy my afternoons. As a newbie to organized sports, I was completely unprepared for how serious people treated physical activity. Our coach was a short man whose athletic days likely ended with his discovery of unbranded supermarket pies. He forced us to run, jog, and skip for what felt like hours, and he could tell the slackers from the go-getters—I was late to almost every practice, including the day they gave out uniforms. As a result, I spent the season in a medium-size girls uniform. I was slipping into it before practice one day (I was late as usual) when a kid from my math class strolled through the locker room. He saw me and said, “Hey, new kid from Afghanistan or whatever, you wanna ditch practice and smoke a bowl?” I knew he wasn’t on the track team, so I was the only one taking a risk, but I agreed anyway.

As we walked out towards the woods next to the track, I noticed that there were twice as many people on the field as usual, and half of them were wearing different uniforms than the ones my team wore. “Oh shit,” I said to the math-class kid. “I have a fucking track meet today.” He laughed, and we continued into the woods. We found a spot and smoked three bowls and a cigarette in about 15 minutes. The whole time I was panicking, getting more and more stoned, knowing that I was probably supposed to compete in a few track events. Finally, I thanked the kid and heroically said, “I’ve got a race to run,” and then bolted out of the woods.

The coach spotted me as soon as I emerged from the trees. I sprinted towards him, and when I got close enough, I saw his irritation on his face. He definitely knew I was high on something, but he didn’t say it or even send me home. He said, “You’d better run pretty god damn well in the 400 relay. It starts in 90 seconds.” He pointed me towards my three teammates on the track, who also wore irritated expressions on their faces—they were not expecting much of a performance from T. Kid. It turned out that I exceeded their expectations with a mediocre second leg that neither won us anything nor embaressed us. To me, this was a solid victory on my track record.

From then on, I blazed in the woods with various people before every track practice and meet, while always wearing my girls uniform. It was the first time that smoking pot led me to meeting friends, and it would become the basis of almost every friendship from then on in my life. I was also enjoying getting away with being stoned at practices, but before long I got sick of running while stoned—I quit the track team about halfway through the season, freeing up my afternoons to bask in greener pastures.

That summer, I moved to a different town, where the woods were a hotbed for teenage drug activity. The cops were wise to it (as mentioned in a previous Weediquette), so the woods were no longer a sanctuary. I only began to reconnect with nature when I moved to Philadelphia for college and spent some time in the largest—and perhaps most lawless—municipal park system in the country. In most of Fairmount Park, you can freely smoke a blunt or commit any number of other criminal acts without being seen or hassled. However, it is rife with reminders that you are not really in the wilderness; blunt guts, beer cans, and used condoms litter every popular spot. You can hear the buzz of the highway in even the more remote parks.

Despite all its shortcomings, I especially missed Fairmount Park when I moved to New York—here the parks are incredibly restrictive. In my mind a park is not a park unless you can freely drink, smoke, and throw a longpass without ruining a picnic. It’s impossible to find a secluded spot in New York’s parks, particularly on nice days. This leaves me perpetually smoking while trapped indoors, leading me to more drastic measures to get my nature fix—an urge that seems to grow stronger as I get older.

One of the first times I hiked the Delaware Water Gap, I was on acid, and it endeared those woods to me forever. Since then, I’ve made several trips there with the express purpose of chilling and blazing in the woods by myself. Every time I find a new cliff over the river or a particularly dope fallen tree, I plod down, light a huge joint, and appreciate my surroundings for a few minutes. Bad weather seems to scare off most visitors, so I’ve been trekking out in the snow and rain, deeper and deeper into the woods. I’m possibly risking a 127 Hours-type situation each time I do this, but if catastrophe ever befalls one of my blazing hikes, I’ll instagram a peaceful scene like the one above and scream for help in the background.

Inevitably, I always find myself back in the city, sandwiched between vast walls, involuntarily eavesdropping on stupid conversations no matter where I go. When I’m not working, I’m patiently awaiting the next opportunity to drive away from the chatter and into the woods, where no one talks and clouds of smoke move extra slowly as they float away.

This past Christmas, I unwittingly lit a joint in the first place I had ever smoked weed. A distinct memory didn't strike me when I lit up. As I crouched by the back door in my dad's garage, I was as scared about the garage door opening and my father…

A guide to Cannabis and Camping.

Cannabis and camping go hand-in-hand. Since cannabis has anti-anxiety effects, it can enhance the relaxing nature of your camping trip. Immersing yourself in nature while enjoying a joint can be.

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A guide to Cannabis and Camping. Cannabis and camping go hand-in-hand. Since cannabis has anti-anxiety effects, it can enhance the relaxing nature of your camping trip. Immersing yourself in