Rob Langsdorf is a trail blazer. Literally.
Langsdorf's passion is building new hiking trails, and one or two Saturdays every month, he's out in the hills building a trail.
Langsdorf, a mid-40s La Jollan, is cutting an eight-mile hiking path that will link the Mataguay Scout Reservation near Lake Henshaw with the Pacific Crest Trail--which runs between the Mexican and Canadian borders--near Ranchita.
He started about five years ago and so far only about three miles are completed. He says there's no hurry, and he is using the experience to train Scouts on how to be trail blazers in their own right.
Langsdorf, a business consultant by profession, says it's not easy work taking a dozen or so volunteers onto the hillsides of the San Felipe Mountains and then using hand saws, chain saws and shovels to clear the path along a previously determined route.
"You want to make sure you know where you're going before you just start hacking away," he said. "I've been on trails built by other people which just come up to granite walls and stop. Granite walls make for very bad trails."
On a good day with up to 20 helpers--usually Boy Scouts or Sierra Club members--Langsdorf may lengthen the trail by a quarter of a mile. But he can remember other days when all he could accomplish was pulling out two or three tree stumps.
"You've got to dig out the roots as you go," he said. "Otherwise, you can come back the following summer and see five-foot-high scrub oak on your trail."
It's good, hard work. "One of the great things about the outdoors is that it puts people under just enough stress that they become real, and overcome the shallowness we're allowed to develop in the city."
The attraction of trail-blazing? In the business world, he said, you can't always measure the effectiveness of your work for months or years.
"But when you're building a trail, by the end of the day you can see what you've done.
"You may only have gotten 100 feet through the brush, but you can see that it's done and that you've accomplished something. The reward is immediate."
The extension courses offered by UC San Diego have their share of heady subjects, to be sure. Like "Celtic Linguistics, First Steps in Irish and Welsh," "Advanced Probate Problem Resolution," "Human Origins: Evolution of Society," "Internationl Political Economy," "The Arab-Israeli Conflict: From 1948 to Present" and "Professional Development Series in Accounting and Taxation."
But then, even UCSD has recess.
Consider these extension courses:
- "Here's to the Winners--1986 California Wine Gold Medalists," in which six different gold medal wines will be showcased at each session. It's a non-credit course and, the catalogue dutifully notes, "enrollees must be 21 years of age or older."
- "Lemon Desserts," another non-credit course, which teases students with this class description: "There will be two fabulous lemon tarts, one served hot, and the best lemon meringue pie. There will also be a dessert easily made ahead for a large party--lemon cream in a huge meringue shell with strawberries. A grand lemon Bavarian cream with glazed lemon slices is sensational, and the lemon case brushed with lemon glaze is delicious and keeps very well if you can stop eating it."
There's a new coffee table softback travel book out, "La Jolla," which is like a lot of travel books in that the photographer--Jeremiah Sullivan of San Diego--really had to go out of his way to take pictures of La Jolla scenes sans people.
Imagine the La Valencia Hotel, with no strollers. La Jolla Country Day School and The Bishop's School, with no students. Prospect Street and La Jolla Boulevard and Girard Avenue, but no shoppers. La Jolla Recreation Center, but no one having fun. La Jolla Library, and no readers. The Children's Pool, and no waders. Torrey Pines Golf Course, but no golfers. The La Jolla Post Office, but no one in line.
"We tried to show the buildings and the landscape that is La Jolla, but you try not to involve people in your pictorial coverage. When you do that, you're reporting," said Julio Andujar, who published the book; his wife, Gloria de Aragon Andujar, wrote the text.
"Besides, if your photographs include people, then they will become dated since people change, fashions change. So we focused on nature and the buildings and we'll leave the people to your imagination."
Of Mice and Men
Finally, these closing items:
- Given last week's storm, the marquee promoting a local stage production at San Diego State University's dramatic arts department seemed appropriate: "Strange Snow."
- Readers of the San Diego-based gay newspaper Update are being offered free condoms, just for the asking. Publisher Don Hauck said: "It's one way of making sure they're around to read our newspaper in five years."
- The Pest Control Operators of California are holding their 44th annual convention Wednesday through Sunday at the Town and Country Hotel, where, among other things, they promise to unveil "a better mousetrap."