3-Apr-96 (Private Trip)
By: Robert MacDonald
Since I was heading back home from a trip down to Yuma to visit some family friends, I decided to stop off in Coachella valley and have a go at climbing Rabbit Peak. A friend had hiked it via Villager Ridge some years ago and mentioned what an enjoyable summit it was. So after a night in Indio, I set off across the desert wash heading due west to the peak. It was 8am. A little late for a big elevation gain, but off I went.
Following a faintly ducked trail., I worked myself up to the shoulder of the southeast ridge. From here the trail is in fairly good shape for most of the way over to the real start of the climb, the prominent east ridge, located on the map between Sheep and Barton canyons. What I thought would be a steady, direct, and somewhat moderate hike up the ridge to the summit plateau, turned out to be a very hard and fairly strenuous scramble up thousands of feet of rough, brushy, and rocky terrain. I thought to myself, once again, I had underestimated desert peak climbing. One thing for sure though, the ridge offered some outstanding views of the Salton sea and all the surrounding valleys. The final 9 miles across the plateau northwest to the top turned out to be a very pleasurable hike thru some nice juniper trees.
After signing the register and a quick lunch, it was time to head down. A certain guide book states to return the same way and after careful consideration of the southeast ridge, I also agreed. Darkness set in just as I arrived back down on the wash. At this point I picked up the main trail out across the desert floor. This trail is very well ducked with white rocks making it very visible even in darkness. 3 and a half miles later I was back at the lemon orchard at Fillmore street and the car.
This trip turned out to be a little more than I thought it would be but was still a very enjoyable climb. I recommend a very early start with an ample amount of water and wearing long clothes. I went home with lots of scratches but some nice memories.
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