Villager Peak, Rabbit Peak
By: Asher Waxman
From the start, when we planned this trip, Minor & I agreed that this backpack, though strenuous by its nature, would be conducted so that every participant (after being initially screened) would be supported in achieving their goal. With that premise, we worked to a schedule that would get us up to Villager Pk by midafternoon, without hurrying, and allow ample rest & sleep time for our early start Sunday. Our meeting time was 6:30 am Sat, at the trailhead, ready-to-go, and 17 eager hikers took off soon after, Asher leading, Minor sweeping. By 3 pm, eight of us were signing in on Villager & moving towards setting up camp just east of the summit. The day had been warm & mercifully breezy I the evening was cool, clear & pleasant. Tents had been declared optional & those who were without didn't miss them. Most of us didn't bring stoves along & at least some of us got to enjoy the generosity of those who did. At 5:45 am Sunday, I led off on the traverse to Rabbit Pk. Minor had started about an hour earlier with Molly Beathe. Charlie Knapke assisted as sweep. It took us about three hours to get to Rabbit, where the views from the actual summit rocks were panoramic & much better than I'd been led to expect. There were also some isolated small patches of snow, only on top. Approaching the final ascent to Rabbit, we had passed Minor & Molly. We started our descent soon after they summitted.
Back at Villager 14 of us took 45 minutes to have some lunch, pack up & rest (not much rest). Charlie stayed behind to wait for M&M and accompany them for the hike out, which would clearly last well after dark. Carol Smetana & Frank Atkin jointly helped sweep the rest of us. Everyone had of course been required to bring flashlights, even though we seriously hoped to be out before dark. One of our hikers, though, developed a problem with her knee & Mark Scofield ended up with a monstrously huge & impressive pack. Bob Baird helped carry some weight, & Bob Beach, who had already taken some of Molly's weight on the ascent, helped out some more. With everybody maintaining impressively good cheer, our front group of 14 reached the Peking Duck just as it was getting dark. By the time we were down the switchbacks it was totally dark, and thereafter flashlights were necessary. We made a rather pretty procession across the desert floor as I looked back. Also, the lights of Minor & Co. were visible above us. I thought they were near the P. Duck. That turned out to be an illusion. Anyway, somehow we found our way back to within about 30 feet of the cars at 7:15 pm. I heard some comments about this having been a "hike from Hell". Actually, everyone seemed to be feeling good & I received some kind comments, which I appreciated. Soon everybody had driven off & I waited in Minor's car, turning it towards the distantly bobbing lights; occasionally flashing the headlights. At 9:15 I heard approaching voices. The previously unnamed members of our expedition are: Eleanor Carter, Bill Lien, Rosina Mueller, Dorothy Pallas, Linda Avila, Theresia Glover, Austin Taube, Dave Wellbourn. They all conspired to finally make this an excellent trip. I owe special thanks to Bob Beach & Charlie Knapke for lots of help; to Carol S. for extra duty, to Austin for the use of his altimeter. Minor made the whole trip possible, humane & safe.
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