It seems to me that time occasionally folds back on itself almost as if we live in a pleated universe.
My first one-way trip to San Diego happened in 1986 when I moved south with all my belongings to start school at San Diego State University. I was picked up at the airport by a long, white government van and whisked away to the (now defunct) Naval Training Center San Diego for two weeks of boot camp. So began my brief career as a midshipman in the Reserve Officer Training Corps. Showing up at boot camp with a set of golf clubs is not high on my list of recommendations. Marine Gunnery Sergeant Mayorga, a hard, lean Cuban with ice blue eyes, took great exception to my accouterments and was not shy about letting me know. “Betz!!!”, he screams in my mind still to this day, “you think this is a vacation?! You think you are on vacation to play golf? Drop and give me 40! Butt down and hit that dirt meng!”
- Contrast that memory with the extraordinary invitation from Scout and Frodo, legendary ‘trail angels’ who host PCT hikers each year at their home in San Diego. Trail angels are the kindly denizens of the PCT who make ‘trail magic’ happen all along the trail benefitting hikers and speeding them on their way. Believe it or not, Scout and Frodo extend an offer to all comers. They will pick you up wherever you arrive- plane, bus, or train, take you to their home for a meal and camping in their backyard, wake you up in the morning with something to eat, and finally whisk you off to the trailhead at dawn on your day of departure. Gratis, no donations please, unless you want to contribute to the Pacific Crest Trail Association. All you have to do is let them know when and how you will arrive in San Diego on their website. In addition to incredible generosity, Katrina points out their sly wisdom in hosting hikers at the beginning of their journeys instead of what’s sure to become an unkempt, unwashed, and odiferous horde further up the trail.
Ever the self-assured independent, accepting the kindness of strangers is yet another of my mini challenges for this hike but I’m no dummy. Confronted with the many blessings of Gunnery Sergeant Mayorga or those of Scout & Frodo, the choice becomes as clear as the blue skies of San Diego.