Rabbit Peak #2, Villager Peak
17-18 December 1966
By: Bob Van Allen
Leader: Bob Van Allen
Forty people started for Rabbit and all forty made the summit. In addition, eleven of the forty also included the side trip to Villager.
It all started on Friday night with some people sleeping at home in Los Angeles, some sleeping along the way and some sleeping near the meeting place. Those who drove out Saturday morning and other early risers can recall a sunrise with coloring normally seen in many sunsets.
Many old friendships were renewed at the meeting place. By the time we left for the roadhead, we had gathered 40 people in 26 vehicles; including participants from Oxnard, Palo Alto, and Sacramento. A number of the people had tried Rabbit before and not made it. This time they were determined.
The drive to the roadhead through the dump was particularly scenic this time, as there had been several recent additions of cars and plastic sheeting. The best, though, were two new large mounds of beer cans just before the levee. One mound falls artistically about half way into the road.
Despite the recent heavy rains, we had no trouble getting to the roadhead. After a brief time for boot-putting-on and last-minute-pack-checking, we briefly reviewed the plan for the rest of the trip and departed for camp at 9 a.m.
Crossing the fan was warm but not unreasonably hot; just enough for a good perspiration. Not because we had been hiking for so long but because of the early rising time, everyone was eagerly anticipating lunch when we stopped at the 1800' saddle on the ridge. As is usual at that point, several people observed that our campsite plateau looked about 20 minutes away. A steady pace, after an hour break for lunch, and everyone was into camp before 3 p.m. Campsites were improved and fuel was gathered for cookfires and the evening campfire. At this time of year, the sun disappears from camp shortly after 3 p.m. and it's dark shortly after 5 p.m. Such a situation makes the evening (until 8 o'clock sack time) rather long, but it's a better choice than coming into camp late through the agave and cholla. Our campfire (which must have been visible in Indio) was the center of many tales (and some corny jokes). The evening was very pleasant and so was the night. The anticipated below freezing temperature was not realized.
The first cry of activity sounded about 4:30 a.m., with most arising between 4:45 and 5:00 a.m. We gathered by flashlight at 5:30 and with 40 eager tigers we started at 5:35 to see what Rabbit had in store for this group. The sunrise was beautiful and the weather just right for this type of effort. The first group was on the summit at 8:25 with the tail-twisters arriving about 10:30. Rabbit was number 100 for Wally Henry. A slight deviation was taken from the published schedule time of departure for Villager. Due to overall circumstances, the Villager group left at 9 a.m.; 35 minutes after arrival on Rabbit. The remainder of the group returned to camp in two sections, one under the direction of Bob Herlihy and the other with Roger Mitchell. The side-trip-group arrived on Villager shortly after 11 a.m. and while eating lunch were joined by six other Hundred Peakers who were doing Villager only from the Clark Lake side. Due to such fine company, we spent 15 minutes longer than we had anticipated, but it's always fun to meet your friends in such remote places.
Return to camp from Villager via Rabbit is the part of the trip that makes this side venture advisable only for those in very good condition both physically and mentally. It adds 7 miles and approximately 3000' to an already extensive day. The Villager group arrived at camp at 4:10 p.m. and at 4:20 departed for the cars.
The Rabbit only group began arriving at the cars about 4:30, with the last ones out at 5:30-6:00 p.m. The Villager group was at the cars at 7 p.m. The Villager group arrived at the 1800' saddle on the ridge (same place as Saturday's lunch) just at dark. The rest of the trip to the cars was made by these eleven individuals without anyone using a flashlight.
Now instead of 40 eager tigers, we had nearly 40 pooped pussy cats. This was a remarkable group - they worked well together and I appreciate the cooperation of all. This is one of the most strenuous of the 100 Peaks. Doing it on perhaps the shortest daylight weekend of the year - plus including Villager - makes it a real accomplishment.
Personally, I'm looking forward to leading Rabbit again.
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