By: Dale van Dalsem
BIG RABBIT THE HARD WAY
The schedule write-up scared away most; the trip sheet blew away the rest, but, somehow, we had 7 illiterate masochists who showed up at the Villager/Rosa Point roadhead by 9:30 Friday night to leave half our vehicles there. We then drove the two hours to the Pinyon Flat Campground, stopping on the way for our last Real Food at Carl's in Palm Desert. Up at 5, off driving before 6 (You did pay the camping fee, right, Bobcat??), up the road signed "Santa Rosa Mtn" (Toro Pk 7-1/2 topo & Auto Club Riverside City maps helpful; turns unsigned). After 80 minutes of dirt (& snow & ice) driving - high clearance helpful - we reached the big turnout just below the locked gate on Toro Peak at about 8250'. We assembled & got going about 7:45. The route followed the ridgeline all the way; there was little opportunity to detour around bumps on the ridge. The first few hours were a pleasant cakewalk through the conifers, but the going got rugged late in the morning, with some stretches of big boulders choked with manzanita & other fun flora.
The plateau of Rabbit got slowly closer & the sharp point of Toro, festooned with antennae, receded with each new bump mounted. Weather was almost perfect, but windy. At about 5:40 P.M., in Section 29 of Clark Lake NE 7-1/2, we reached a sheltered hollow with flat spaces & wood. Leader's knee not responding to Naprosyn & codeine. Camp, after 10 hrs. Randy built a dandy fire ring & fire & we munched & crashed.
Sunday up at 5:15, off by 6:25, no Sunrise Services, we signed in on Rabbit at 9:30 & spent a half hour reading registers; four of us had been there before, leaders, Joe, & Carolyn. Gorgeous day. Then the 2-1/2 hour stroll to villager was almost a sidewalk. The long ridge down to s-22 would have been boring, but the cacti were beginning to bloom & some of the colors were riotous. Brilliant cerese flowers of the prickly pear were unreal. Dark, bright orange ocotillo blossoms were at their finest. Yellow barrel cactus blooms were opening. A century plant was perhaps a week past its fullest glory. Cholla & opuntia not performing yet. Cars at 5:30; stragglers by 6. Joe & Bob Anglin each had a six-pack waiting. Then the 3-hr drive around to Toro vehicles (actually almost 4 with another stop at Carl's - sick of the place!). Some home at 2 A.M. The seven were Dale & Bobcat, Randy Danta, Wynn Benti, Carolyn West, Bob Anglin, & Joe Young. The trip went well because, 1) good group; all kept up, helped, and enjoyed (endured?). 2) we went super light; most took no tent, no stove or pot set, no parka. I wore Lava Domes, cargo pants, polypro shirt, sunnet, gloves, & took thin wool shirt, 12 oz windbreaker, wool hat, 4-lb down bag, foam pad, 8 oz first aid kit, 5 topos, compass, altimeter, T.P., headlamp, 3 gallons water, 4 lbs muffins, date nuggets, raisons, prunes, apples, all in a 23 oz day bag, plus a summit register. Most took a quart of water/15 lbs of body weight. Most finished with 2 quarts left over, but a bit more heat would have used it all. 3) we had perfect weather & less brush than anticipated 4) we were damn lucky!
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