Sundays are for errands, recuperating, and . . . weed hikes? My weekend plans don't typically include such excitement, but I jumped on the opportunity to join the first event of a new wellness series hosted by Hmbldt, a cannabis-based health company. The invitation mentioned a sampling of Hmbldt's pen formulas, a guided hike through Mount Tamalpais near Muir Woods National Monument (just outside San Francisco, CA), followed by a special sound bath, which I'll get into later.
Cannabis and wellness certainly complement each other, which Hmbldt's marketing manager Ryan Hamilton wanted to highlight in the events he created. "We are a health and wellness company, first and foremost, and we're all extremely conscious of the fact that cannabis is just one piece of living a healthy lifestyle," he said. "It's all about getting people active and getting them to think about their health and wellness and how cannabis can fit into that." The event I participated in was "designed to relax the body and declutter the mind," and let me tell you, I got exactly that.
Two other media guests and I arrived at a small clubhouse perched along Mount Tamalpais, overlooking the redwood treetops and Pacific Ocean. Inside, yoga mats and pillows were arranged across the floor for our sound bath later, and we were immediately welcomed to sample any of Hmbldt's six dose pen formulas: Relief, Sleep, Bliss, Calm, Passion, and Arouse. The aesthetic of the sleek, white pens was perfectly described to one of us as the "Apple of vapes," which was very fitting for this high-end product. With a clean design and higher price point ($100) compared to your average rechargeable vape pen ($45), this one is definitely for the weed enthusiast who wants to splurge.
Though on the pricier end, one of Hmbldt's pens is good up to 200 doses — which can last around a month or so, depending on usage — while Bloom Farms' Highlighter, for example, lasts 100 to 200 puffs. Instead of a replaceable cartridge, Hmbldt's pen is recycled entirely through the company, and delivery services offer $5 off your next pen. A little expensive compared to Bloom Farms' $35 cartridge refills, but the quality is undeniable. Most vape pens you see are actually modified e-cigarettes, according to Hmbldt, optimized for tobacco over cannabis. It also features a three-second timer signaled by a light vibration for a controlled dose — an important feature for those who want a controlled high every single time, especially first-time cannabis users. In fact, both media guests I met at the event were not regular users whatsoever, and it was even the first cannabis experience for one of them. Needless to say, they were enjoying themselves and were surprised at how smooth the formula inhaled.
I personally started off with a hit of Bliss, which was specifically recommended for a nature-filled day like this. I then followed it with Calm, a CBD-heavy option, formulated to relax your mind and body. With Bliss high in THC (responsible for psychoactive effects) and with Calm being 10 to one in CBD (more effective on the body) to THC, the combination resulted in a mellow and clear-headed high. The problem with most vape pens for me is that they produce a hyperaware effect with a touch of self-consciousness and paranoia that I don't always enjoy. But I never experienced any issues among the four out of six formulas I tried that day.
Our hour-long hike was led by two nature-obsessed guides who provided the most educational experience I've ever had outdoors. They really emphasized connecting with our environment and made the hike a completely immersive activity. Immediately, when we took off, we were stopped to touch and smell the pearly everlasting plants, which reminded many of us of maple syrup. Thanks to their extensive knowledge, we were able to fully appreciate everything that crossed our paths. The goal was to punctuate what we'd normally miss and reawaken our senses, and we absolutely achieved that. It also didn't hurt that the majority of our group of about 15 were on a pretty good level by then, making our "ooh"s, "ah"s, and "wow"s much more genuine. Hiking while high helped me notice the changing temperatures of the breezes and other things in my surroundings that I wouldn't have noticed, allowing me to be more mindful and present. It couldn't have been a more beautiful day either, and I appreciated the pauses and how our guide made us "stop and gawk" at the views.
The idea of cannabis and hiking (or any other outdoor activity) is now such an obvious fit.
"We felt like this was particularly well-suited for [cannabis], and we wanted to do it in a beautiful environment and have a hike as part of getting out and getting active and learning about plants," Ryan said. "Everything we want to do is educational and lends itself to a better understanding of plants or to live a more healthy lifestyle. We felt like the two tied together really well with each other."
When we returned to the clubhouse, we noticed that the center of the room now featured an assemblage of gongs and Tibetan bowls for our sound bath. After lunch, we each settled down on our mats to get started. Now, before we get into the experience, a sound bath does not involve water in the slightest. You lie on your back, eyes closed, and allow your mind and body to be bathed by sounds and vibrations, helping you reach a meditative state more easily.
Our session was led by sound therapist Danny Goldberg, who mainly used gongs to create these binaural beats. "What happens when sound vibrations meet one another, they overlap and create incredible overtones," he said. "And these overtones and binaural beats are what allow our minds to drop into a theta-wave state. So creating this combination of overtones allows our minds to turn off and our bodies to relax almost immediately." And that it did. About 10 minutes into our hour-long sound bath, I heard a few snores around the room, and I even had to try to resist the urge to fall asleep myself. I took a couple hits of Hmbldt's newer pleasure-enhancing formulas, Arouse and Passion, which were a great choice for this relaxing activity.
As someone who had never even heard of a sound bath prior to this event, I had no idea what to expect. But I was pleasantly surprised at how immediate relaxation overcame me. I also wasn't expecting to feel so overwhelmed by the vibrations of the gongs. It was probably because I was high, but I was almost a little scared by how intense it all felt. The best way I can describe the gongs is to imagine hearing an airplane flying closely over your house. It was very loud but not in the way you'd describe volume. Sound and vibration were emanating from every inch of the room, not allowing you to pinpoint where exactly the source was coming from.
It was like sitting in an IMAX theater with surround sound, if the movie you were watching had a soundtrack of both soothing and emotional scores.
I was thinking holy sh*t at certain points, but for the most part, I was in a very relaxed state.
The experience can range widely for others. "For a lot of people, it can also help them release tension, anxiety, fears, and stagnant emotions," Danny said. "People have different reactions to sound; some go into a deep relaxed state, whereas other people get more stimulated from the sound." While the effects can vary, the many benefits of sound baths can include calmness, relaxation, and the ability to turn off ours minds and go inward.
I opened my eyes, feeling completely at ease and loosened up, almost like I had just returned from a yoga class. According to Danny, one hour in a sound bath has scientifically shown to be equivalent to four hours of deep sleep. Even if we didn't take hits from the pens before the bath, I can assure you that it would've still been amazing.
Hmbldt hopes to host similar events about twice a month primarily between San Francisco and Los Angeles. Although each event will differ in planned activities, it will continue to have a core focus on wellness. "The idea is that it's always centered around some particular health and wellness subject, and then how cannabis fits into the landscape," Ryan said. "The biggest issue is that A: there's this giant stigma around it, but B: there's both a lack of education out there about it as well as a whole lot of misinformation, and because of that people aren't necessarily open to learning about what it can do for you."
By hosting more events like today, which will be free for the first few, Hmbldt aims to highlight the many ways weed and wellness go hand in hand. I, for one, found Sunday to be a fantastic example of how cannabis can enhance certain experiences when consumed in controlled doses. It also served as a friendly reminder to myself to utilize cannabis as a life enhancement more often than just a nightly ritual.
"I feel like it takes creating an environment like this, among other ways, to educate others about [the benefits of cannabis] and to allow people to approach it comfortably and safely," said Ryan.