Against all odds, Jim Harris was walking. It was exhausting, and he thought he looked like Frankenstein’s monster—stepping forward with his left leg, then throwing his unresponsive right leg around to meet it. But there he was, at a music festival, getting around with the assistance of a walker, eight months out from a spinal-cord injury that left him paralyzed from the chest down.
In November 2014, a snowkiting accident in Chile changed how the mountaineering instructor turned adventure photographer moved through the world. His days, once spent exploring the alpine, were now filled with rehabilitation exercises in a gym. So when a friend and former physical therapist invited him to the High Sierra Music Festival in Quincy, California, he jumped at the chance to feel like a regular 33-year-old again.
Yet as he settled in to listen to the show, in a grassy field surrounded by tall trees and gentle peaks, he didn’t feel regular. He couldn’t drink alcohol, because it seemed to weaken his remaining nerve connections, and although he’d decorated his walker with LED lights in an attempt at festivity, it didn’t really work. “The disability made me feel like an outsider,” he says. Then someone offered him magic mushrooms, which are packed with the psychoactive compound psilocybin, and he took them, thinking he might finally be able to have fun.