One of my most spectacular and exhausting backpacking trips in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park- Villager & Rabbit Peaks along the Santa Rosa Ridge. Here I am watching the sunset over the Cuyamaca Mountains, Borrego Springs, and Clark Dry Lake.
Sunrise above the Salon Sea along the Santa Rosa Ridge, on my way to Rabbit Peak from Villager Peak.
Rabbit Peak selfie with Toro Peak and snow-capped San Jacinto in the distance. This remote "Island In the Sky" lies along the southeast end of the Santa Rosa Range of Riverside county in Southern California. The summit features views along the Santa Rosa Range to the northwest, to the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park to the south, and the Coachella Valley and Salton Sea to the east. There is no higher peak further south in California, so the views in that direction can span to the Mexican border and into Arizona on a clear day. A Cauhilla Indian legend tells of Suic, a white and red spotted rabbit which dwells on this peak. When he appears, the mountain trembles, and there is a rumbling noise. I didn't see any rabbits, but there were a few mountain lion tracks.
Summit register atop Rabbit Peak, with Toro Peak in the background.
The pinyon pine forest atop Rabbit Peak stands in stark contrast to most of the nearby terrain. The trees yield edible pinyon nuts, which were a staple of the Native Americans, and are still widely eaten as a snack in New Mexican cuisine. Harvesting techniques of the prehistoric Indians are still being used to today to collect the pinyon seeds for personal use or for commercialization. The pinyon nut or seed is high in fats and calories.
Celebrating my second summit of Villager Peak.
The trail here skirts the edge of a spectacular drop off, 3000 feet straight down to the desert floor.
My body is still feeling the burn. This trek takes a considerable amount of time and effort to complete. When I do this again, I'll get an earlier start on the second day so I'll be able to spend more time atop Rabbit Peak. I carried 7 liters of water with me on the first day and had 3 more cached on Villager from a previous hike. It was enough to get me thorough the weekend. I'm also thinking I'll leave the tent behind and just cowboy camp with a bivy sack. I'm still on a high from this adventure!
"From the 8716 foot summit of Toro Peak in Riverside County, the main crest of the Santa Rosa Mountains undulates southeast past Rabbit and Villager Peaks, then drops steadily to the desert floor at the edge of the Borrego Badlands. The northern summits of the Santa Rosa Mountains are high enough to support a variety of conifers, but the south half of the range- San Diego County's share- is quite desolate. The southern Santa Rosas are rugged, almost lacking in sources of water, virtually trail-less, seldom visited, and (to the ill-prepared hiker) unforgiving. Yet it's here, more than any other place within the county, that you can really get away from it all. Perched on some high and dry peak, you can gaze out over hundreds of square miles of mountains and desert with a feeling that you own it all." -Jerry Schad