My experience living like a renegade in two drastically different settings in the infamous Emerald Triangle….
A winding drive through the giant elders of the universe set the tone for this adventure. The presence of the Redwood trees is strong enough to momentarily steal your breath. Their energy is astounding; you can feel the low vibration strumming every fiber of your being when you are among them.
A few hours of driving on sketchy back country mountain roads leading away from civilization takes me to a hidden entrance. Once around the corner there is a large steel gate, proceeded by another. From here we leave our cars behind and climb into large 4×4 machines and proceed into the trees. We are flying down barely cut paths over rocksy uneven ground and around sharp corners to eventually wind up in a valley where the main camp is set up.
The entire organization is ran by individuals thirty years old and younger. It is by no means flaw free, but it is an extremely lucrative business operation with an impressively high quality product. As I walk through the main tent where the grill and water jugs are I hear a slur of languages. There are workers here from all over the world. Behind this main tent are ten or so smaller tents where the workers will live for the two to three month period of time they are at the farm. There is an outdoor shower rigged together with PVC pipe and a propane generator. There is a trail marked with green ribbon to holes dug out in the dirt for bathroom purposes.
Not long after the cat and I got situated in our camp we were called to meet up for a night operation. My curiosity as to why we were meeting so early for a night op was answered by the lengthy, cautionary journey to the gardens. We were taken by machine to a new loading spot where we transferred to trucks that drove us further into the abyss. We then transferred again into another set of machines that drove groups of us to separate locations. We were taken to a large wooden gate on a very deserted hill side in the literal middle of nowhere. Behind this gate were the most beautiful plants I have ever encountered.
These plants could almost be categorized as trees. They stood up to fifteen feet tall and had mighty stems parenting a plethora of branches with big girthy buds. Skittles, OG Alien, Forbidden Fruit, Cookies, and Purple Dream were just a few of the strains I came across here. I always knew when I was coming upon a new variety because I could smell it in the air. The aroma these plants gave off at night was so thick you could feel it hanging in the atmosphere; and it clung to you in the most endearing of ways.
Hours later all the plants had been harvested and it was time to head back to camp to catch a glimpse of sleep before the sun came to wake us up. I stood squatted down on the back of the machine holding on to the metal bars and ducking and weaving the tree branches zooming past me. A full moon gleamed in the sky above stirring up a whole new sort of energy inside of me. We were living like strait renegades, growing the medicine that the government is trying to steal from the public. We lived primitive and rural, as people should. There was an unspoken bond of excitement, stifled by stealth. We lived with nothing but we had so much coming our way.
In the morning I was called awake by a crow living in the tree above my tent. Every morning he called down to us to say the morning had come, and we were soothed awake by the strong flap of his wings as he propelled from his home and began his morning glide among the forest canopy. It was a beautiful way to return to this Earth and start the day. Hearing the government helicopters flying above searching for depots was not.
On the other side of the Emerald Triangle I enter into a whole other version of this operation. This is a small scale family business just getting its start. Smaller numbers, smaller plants, same big vision. This operation allowed me to step into the home of a family of a local mountain town with a population of less than 500. The passion for life in the triangle was strong here as well. However I think the part of the experience I took the most from was my time in their home versus my time in their organization.
During this harvest and trim season the home held two parents, two kids and their significant others, three friends (a man in his seventies, a true bad attitude LSD-lovin’ hippie in his middle ages, and a Hell’s Angels supporter), five dogs, two cats, two pet rats, myself, and a plethora of OG Kush. You can’t even imagine what this smoke sesh looked like.
The home had no power; it was small and simple. We spent our time gathered in the living room around a wood burning stove. We were out in the sticks and the family fully embraced the lifestyle. Their energy was booming. As most of my visits have been with soft spoken hippies and healers, it was a totally different experience to be around the loud, blunt, excited energy.
They were quite the crazy bunch and I truly enjoyed my time with them. It was great to be submersed in a family setting for the first time in a long while. The arguing, the teamwork, all of it seemed so distant to me and it was rather entertaining and even somewhat grounding to be amongst the chaos. There was never a dull moment as stories were told and high fives were exchanged. We were brought together for work, but that was never the main focus. A good time with good company always came first. And I genuinely admire how easily they took me in and gave me their trust. By day two I was being called part of the family and treated like it too. I was invited to stop in at everyone’s homes and given contacts to even more extended family I’m yet to meet. It’s always a really beautiful thing when a bond of this sort can be created in a brief period of time. Finding people on the road who can reach instant comfort levels as if they had been your best friend for life is a never ending blessing.
I was also blessed to be given the opportunity to see these two drastic sides of the industry. I’m grateful to say that I experienced life in the world famous Emerald Triangle during the best time of the year. And what a great time to do it as the war on drugs begins to knock down some of the sturdiest walls in its path to freedom. I of course owe my thanks and a bounty of respect to those who have paved the way for this revolution to have come so far: those who have been injured or lost in protest, who have served time for cultivation, and the people, land, and medicine lost in the helicopter raids of ’83 on Humbolt county.