Kidnapped on the Trail – Part II
Warning: This blog contains a brief section of violence. If this bothers you, skip this episode and read one of my more lighthearted stories. This is the second piece of a two-part story.
…. They shoved us through the brush, making sure that we were out of sight from the trail. Near a creek bed, they pushed us down and took our packs. These guys were probably “coyotes” who deal in human trafficking.
They took everything of value from us – cell phones, wallets. One of them, a short dumpy slug – found the 550 para-cord in my backpack and used it to bind our hands behind our backs and to the trunk of a large manzanita bush. We were beyond scared and prayed for deliverance knowing that when “el jefe” returned, we would be on our way south of the border to be held for ransom, or worse. Dusk was coming quickly as I made eye contact with my wife and gave her a wink.
I was able to make out some of the conversation. My knowledge of spanish is limited, even more limited when it is Mexican slang. I did hear one of them say “cinco horas”. We had “five hours” for something. Three of them departed and left one to guard us. He had some type of semi-auto pistol, couldn’t make out if it was a 9mm but he tucked it into his trousers and sat on a mound of grass about 20 ft. away. It was decision time.
I whispered to my wife that we’ll ok and the thug immediately shined his flashlight and yelled “cayete!” meaning shut up! He lit a small campfire to his left, enough to keep him warm as the coolness of this December night set in. Darkness came and I started feeling around behind my back. I didn’t have much mobility, but enough to feel the chunks of granite at the base of the manzanita. I found a sharp sliver of rock and slowly started to rub the rope across the surface. My eyes adjusted a bit to the darkness and a waning half-moon rose to our north-east. I estimated it was around 9-9:30. Within 30 minutes or so, I had cut through a strand and gradually worked my way out of the rope. It must have been another hour or so and I could hear our kidnapper snoring. I leaned over and whispered to my wife that I was free and that it would soon be time to act. I untied her and told her to stay put.
Three months earlier I had applied for and received my concealed carry permit. In California and particularly in San Diego County, you previously needed a “reason” to carry concealed. The 9th District Federal Court of Appeals ruled that law-abiding residents need only to show a desire for self-defense rather than proving they were confronted with a “clear and present danger.” As a result, in a state of over 38 million, the number of law-abiding citizens with permits doubled to 120,000 within a short time.
Crawling, I felt for any twigs that would snap and awaken him. It seemed like it took forever, inching my way over, now several feet away. I got into a prone position, chambered a round into my 32 cal semi-auto and released the slide. The campfire had him illuminated perfectly. I yelled at him twice “Ponga sus manos o usted es muerto!” My spanish was pretty bad and I probably told him to clap his hands or die. I meant to say put your hands up or you’re dead.
Instead, he reached for his weapon, and I placed 3 shots, center mass. A groan and he slumped over, almost landing in the fire. I retrieved his gun, held mine to his head while I checked for a pulse and remember a ringing in my ear. No pulse, I dragged him behind a bush and put out the fire.
You see, our kidnappers did a poor job of frisking me. I had dust gaiters on over my hiking pants. Under those, an ankle holster with a small pistol.
We retrieved our packs and made our way to the trail. The moon provided just enough light to make out the path, so we quietly made our way back to the gate at the trailhead. My jeep was gone, probably on the way to Mexico.
We walked along the road towards town planning to flag someone down. When a single vehicle approached, we hid, not knowing if it was our kidnappers. Within 15-20 minutes, we observed a couple of vehicles pulling trailers coming from the OHV area. We took a chance and flagged them down. Fortunately, they were some guys from Santee out for some fun with their dirt bikes. We told them that we needed to contact the police and they had us jump in their crew cab and high tailed it out of there.
As soon as they got a phone signal, they called 911 and were instructed to head to the Border Patrol checkpoint on I-8 about 10 minutes away. We gave the 911 dispatcher my vehicle description and my cell phone number, hoping that they could start tracking it down by the cellular signal.
Reaching the checkpoint, we went over our ordeal with the agents. We had survived our encounter with the coyotes.
Note to my readers: The previous blog Kidnapped on the Trail was partially fiction. We actually did hike this trail. Our encounter with “coyotes” was fiction. While I believe in the right of citizens to protect themselves in accordance with the 2nd Amendment, this is not a blog or statement condoning the use of guns or violence. Sadly, human trafficking/slavery is a serious problem in America and throughout the world.