Rabbit Peak, Villager Peak
3-Feb-96 (Private trip)
By: Linda McDermott
I should have known it would be an eventful trip when Wayne Norman (leader) called me a few weeks before the scheduled trip date to ask if I had a route I preferred to go up Rabbit. My answer: "The EASIEST way." His reply: laughter.
The next omen was when I got to Wayne's door to carpool and he said half the people on the trip had canceled because of the wet forecast. I was in the doorway thinking, "Am I stupid for going or stupid for staying?" I went, envisioning a long 2-day wait at the cars if necessary. Heck, I had choices.
Another omen came when Wayne pulled my backpack out of my car and said tactfully, "Gee, this is a little heavy. Guess we'll have a pack check in the morning. Do you want to borrow my walking sticks?" My interpretation: "She's going to die with this pack weight."
The last omen came when Wayne rolled out of his truck Saturday morning and looked up at rain clouds. He obviously didn't like what he saw. I tried to keep my mouth shut. Wayne glanced up at the sky one more time after checking out our rain gear. Although Mike and Mitch were particularly inventive, this was not looking good.
The trip began rolling about 6:30 a.m., with Mitch exclaiming how great the clouds will be for his photography. Mercifully the ridge to Villager is a gentle slope with moments of steepness. Also mercifully, the cloud cover held all day and the trip was cool, reducing my normal water intake. Wayne still looked at the clouds all day. I looked too, grasping at straws when I could see blue above the solid cloud cover. We got to camp beside Villager about 1:30 p.m., just in time to duck under a tarp for the first and ONLY rain of the trip. It rained enough for Wayne and I to look at each other and think, "This could be a BIG mistake." I looked at my pack and saw little white things landing. Snow. Fortunately it melted quickly and I remembered this was a tropical, not Arctic, storm. Fortunately the rain was short-lived which was especially good for Mitch and Mike who can tell you about their rain provisions. We ate lunch and dinner in record time, about an hour apart with Wayne requesting that at least we have a cup of tea between meals.
I woke often in my bivy sack to check the weather. At some point the full moon and stars arrived and Sunday was perfectly clear. We began for Rabbit about 6:15 a.m. It took the normal 6 hours round-trip, especially since I took the scenic route a little to the right of the peak while the fellows waited near the top.
We all made the peak and took lots of pictures since it had taken me over 20 years to get my emblem status on this peak. I then told the fellows I had made oatmeal cookies for the occasion but left them, out of guilt, at the car because of weight. They weren't pleased, but understood. Ask Wayne about the unusual event with the register. I signed in: "Achieved DPS emblem status. Next goal: Get down from here alive."
Most of the peak fever left and it was hard getting over the bumps back to the packs. We got our packs on about 12:45 p.m. and followed the ridge down for 4 hours. There were 9 people climbing the peak and several ran low on water after leaving Villager, a good reminder not to underestimate needs even in February. I carried over 2 gallons. The climb really went well and we celebrated at the In-and-Out Burger that jumped from Indio to Ramon Road. My special thanks to Wayne for including and encouraging me on the trip and to the rest of the group for keeping me laughing, having a good time, and helping me achieve and celebrate a long-time goal.
Participants: Wayne Norman, Linda McDermott, Mitch Miller, Mike Wolfe, Dick Emmerson, and Matt Bond.
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