Hopping Our Way to Rabbit Peak

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On Rabbit looking back at VillagerStarting at 2:30 the previous day, we left Los Angeles for a nice 3 hour drive to our camping spot in Anza-Borrego State Park. We got there a little after the sun had set so that meant setting up camp in the dark. But that wasn’t too hard as we just laid out the tent and “slept” under the stars.

The weather that night was in the mid 40′s, but it could hardly be felt if you were bundled under a sleeping bag. It would have been better if we had a fire going, but they require it be in a raised or enclosed container. So all the light we had was a small lamp and a glowstick.

Some lightOur lampThe road about 100 yards away

Our time to start was 5am. We had decided to wake up at 4:15am, but that didn’t happen since for the most part, we were already awake long before that. It’s not as though we didn’t try, it’s just that it was near impossible. Whether it was the excitement or just that it was uncomfortable, who knows? But I got about 2 hours of on-off sleep.

Once officially up, we packed and met the others at the parking lot by the road. It was 5am, and with our headlamps on, we departed.

The trail starts at the road, and from there it’s about a mile walk over almost flat but rocky terrain. Once at the base of the ridge does the climb start. This beginning part is pretty steep. So warm up on the flat portion.

Past the opening portion the grade on the trail lessens and the pace becomes more manageable. It’s also at this point that the sun started to slowly rise over the Salton Sea and the ridge to our east.

A little lightAbout to peak overThere it is

The pace was pretty quick on this one. Given the distance and gain that had to be covered, we wanted to be done without lingering too long. The first burned up the trail while I and a fellow hiker went at our own pace. The pace wasn’t slow, but it wasn’t fast either. For the most part, we were ahead of my intended schedule.

The views along the way were magnificent. On the way to Villager there’s a nice cliff on the west side in which the trail comes close to at parts. Heading up wasn’t a problem, but on the way down I couldn’t help but notice the cliff and the deadly drop even more.

Looking downThe trail follows this cliffOn the way back

The views of the desert were pretty cool too. I didn’t take too many shots of the Salton Sea since it was partially obscured at times. Plus, I couldn’t fit the whole thing in the shot. Also, I really dislike that place.

Looking south. RunoffWest

Villager was a tough peak to get to. It was a constant uphill battle until the top. This was a little more past the halfway mark of the ascent. We still had 4 more miles and about 1800′ to negotiate to get to Rabbit. Since we just covered about 6 miles and about 5000′, lunch was a good idea.

From Villager looking at RabbitTake a look at the picture to the left. Looks are definitely deceiving. Rabbit peak is the tall peak in the center. Looking at it for the first time, I didn’t think too much of it. But what I failed to see was all the knobs in between. Some of them were a gradual grade. While others were steep ascents.

Finally though, after all you’ve gone through, there’s the graduation knob just to get up to Rabbit. This an 890′ gain in about .60 miles! Truly insane. This is where my pace came to crawl. Each step was more painful than the last. But at the end, it was well worth it. Signing the register felt great, but not as great as finishing my pasta.

We rested here for about 15 minutes and were 30 minutes ahead of our 1pm cutoff. So proud as we were, there were still plenty more to do. 11.5 miles and 1200′ more gain to be exact. By this point, it hurt to stand, walk, and do much of anything. My feet were ok still. They don’t start to become a problem until the 14 mile mark. My knees were still fine too. It’s my gluteus muscles that hurt the most. Even before summitting Villager the first time. I think it had something to do with sleeping on the hard floor the previous night.

Anyways, the back was pretty painful. The trail is pretty unmaintained, and route finding is aided by cairns. Loose rocks litter whichever trail you follow. So you end up hitting them or stepping on them in a weird, painful way. Also, bouldering down was pretty unpleasant too. Here’s is where my knees started to hurt. Thank God for my hiking pole.

The way back.At right is the view from Rabbit looking back towards the way we came. Villager is the taller peak on the right. That ridge is still 4 miles of torture to get to Villager. After that, it’s still another 6 miles or sheer torture just to get back to the trailhead.

I also learned that it’s more painful going down then up. At times I was wishing that there was more uphill instead of down. Going up I could keep a slow pace and only my muscles would slowly burn. But going down you get different muscles aching and joint pains. Plus, crouching down at portions to step down from rock to rock didn’t help at all.

Looking back 24 hours later, I can say that this was a great hike. Seeing the sunrise and that transition period where it just becomes light enough to turn off the headlamp was great. Summitting Rabbit Peak after all of that work and standing on the rocks at the highest point and throwing your arms up in victory is such a great feeling. Also, accomplishing something that’s both mentally and physically punishing is a feeling like no other.

This hike I probably wouldn’t do again. Sure it was nice, but it’s not nice enough to warrant a second visit.

In regards to my Prep For Rabbit Peak post, check out the updated tables below:

Estimated and Total Fluid Consumption
Water Expected/Actual
Gatorade Expected/Actual
Car > Villager
Villager > Rabbit
Rabbit > Villager
Villager > Car
What I’m Carrying
7/ –

I had messed up on my planning. So instead of getting 5 liters of water, I only got 4. In the end, it didn’t matter, but still, it would have made a big difference had it been warmer.

I’m not going to post my times up here. Instead, I’m just putting up Zé’s gps file. Note that this file came up weird. It put the starting location at Rabbit Peak and didn’t account for the in and out travel. So double distance and time. As for the elevation profile, look from right to left for the trailhead to Rabbit.

Elevation Profile
Speed Profile

# Latitude Longitude Elevation Distance Time Avg
1 N 33° 25' 59.74" W 116° 14' 20.58" 2031 m 0.000 mi 0s -
2 N 33° 25' 18.22" W 116° 14' 12.39" 1744 m 1.000 mi 29m 27s 2.04 mph
3 N 33° 24' 37.78" W 116° 13' 44.95" 1695 m 1.004 mi 27m 26s 2.20 mph
4 N 33° 23' 54.50" W 116° 13' 29.94" 1646 m 0.999 mi 27m 01s 2.22 mph
5 N 33° 23' 14.30" W 116° 13' 05.82" 1712 m 0.999 mi 57m 29s 1.04 mph
6 N 33° 22' 35.96" W 116° 12' 38.13" 1607 m 1.000 mi 31m 54s 1.88 mph
7 N 33° 21' 51.18" W 116° 12' 28.04" 1356 m 1.000 mi 32m 02s 1.87 mph
8 N 33° 21' 05.56" W 116° 12' 42.36" 1051 m 0.999 mi 38m 13s 1.57 mph
9 N 33° 20' 20.94" W 116° 12' 22.47" 841 m 1.000 mi 37m 35s 1.60 mph
10 N 33° 19' 35.24" W 116° 12' 00.82" 548 m 1.000 mi 39m 14s 1.53 mph
11 N 33° 18' 48.01" W 116° 11' 50.42" 338 m 1.014 mi 31m 13s 1.95 mph
12 N 33° 18' 08.07" W 116° 11' 53.40" 296 m 0.802 mi 15m 11s 3.17 mph
      Summary 2014 ft 10.818 mi 6h 06m 45s 1.77 mph

Be sure to read Zé’s write up as well Attack of the Cholla – Ascent of Villager & Rabbit Peaks.

Here’s my Picasa gallery for more photos.

The Meetup site for other reviews.

And for a quick sore report:

> Calves semi sore.
> Left knee was causing a slight limp earlier in the day, but that’s gone now.
> Lower quads are sore.
> Gluteus are a bit sore.
> Trapezius feel sore when flexed.

That’s about it. I should be fine Monday. Also, if the knee feels better by Tuesday, then I should be able to do a light version of my leg and cardio routine.

Related posts:

Hiking the Santa Monica's
Big Bad Iron Mountain #1
Olancha Attempt

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This entry was posted on Sunday, February 1st, 2009 at 11:32 pm and is filed under Trail Information, Trip Report. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

2 Responses to “Hopping Our Way to Rabbit Peak”


Chenendez November 24th, 2009 at 10:26 am

Hope to do this soon. Total ridgework. One of the best write-ups for this hike. Can’t find much info elsewhere. Good dependable socalhikes. Running out of monster hikes (haven’t done skyline 3x in one day yet though). So looking at making it up this unspectacular peak.

David Lockeretz

David Lockeretz February 23rd, 2010 at 11:15 am

Thanks for the info and pictures – I’m hoping to do this one later this year.

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