Friday, July 11, 2008

Valentines on Villager

Valentine's Day on Villager Peak

In my short story, "Snow Creek Stories," I recount a climb in April of 1998 of Snow Creek on the north face of Mt. San Jacinto. I did this climb with WRL and friends. Unfortunately, I did not make it to the peak of Mt. San Jacinto that day. The climb was too difficult for my level of climbing.

But two months earlier over Valentines Day, WRL took me on a climb of Villager Peak in Anza Borrego Desert State Park. We camped out over night at the top. This is a very short story about that climb.



Valentine's on Villager



Saturday, February 14, 1998. I had met WRL a couple of months prior, and we began dating. We both enjoyed hiking, although I learned later that WRL is a world class mountaineer, having climbed some of the biggest mountains in the world. Aconcagua, McKinley, Gasherbrum, among others. I thought it was a big deal to climb in the Sierras in California, where the tallest mountain, Mt. Whitney, is just over 14,000'.

Eventually I became keenly aware of the the differences in our climbing abilities. But while love was new, WRL suggested an overnight campout on Villager Peak for Valentines Day.

Villager rises just over five thousand feet from about sea level, and averages a 14% grade up a ridge for 6 1/2 miles. The view from the peak includes a panorama of the Salton Sea to the east, Borrego Valley to the southwest, and Rabbit peak to the north. This was an unusual idea for celebrating Valentines, but I was charmed and amused. And in honesty, I think I wanted to impress him with my hiking abilities.

We left San Diego around 4:00 am, and arrived in Anza Borrego about 5:30 am. We were equipped and hiking by 6:00 am. To reach the base of the ridge, we crossed Rattlesnake Canyon Wash, which can best be described as a maze of gullies criss-crossing each other. We reached the base around 6: 45, and started on the old indian trail up the ridgeline.


Villager is spectacularly beautiful. But this particular story is not about the scenery. When we left that morning, the sky was overcast, although the clouds did not seem to be storm clouds. As we continued with the hike, the sky darkened swiftly, and the temperature dropped. Soon we were in a heavy fog, so heavy that I couldn't see very far in front of me. Rain began to fall in the early afternoon, yet, we had gone too far to turn back. We continued on.


My equipment, the backpack and my clothing, were not waterproofed, or even water resistant. By the time we reached the peak, I was soaked through and freezing. My fingers were numb, and I couldn't help WRL with pitching the tent. I sat under a pinyon pine trying to avoid more rain.


Once the tent was pitched, I got in. WRL climbed in after me. My shivering grew more obvious, and I sat quietly in the corner of the tent. WRL unpacked his backpack, and his clothes and sleeping bag were dry. He insisted that I take off my wet clothes and put on his dry ones. I gratefully complied with one exception. I declined the balaclava as they make me feel claustrophobic.

Then WRL insisted that I take his dry sleeping bag. I got in and waited for the inside of the bag to warm up.

WRL brought out his MSR stove, and boiled a small pot of water. I don't recall what we had to eat, other than it was a pasta meal in a "make it in the packet" foil container. It tasted fabulous. I think we had hot chocolate for dessert.

WRL took my wet sleeping bag, and I am sure he was freezing all night. But he took care of me, and I was warm.

I am not much of a complainer, although I am sure other women (yes even some men!) would have whined and moaned. So I didn't complain about the cold or rain. To do so would have changed nothing. I could have checked the weather report prior to our trip, yet I don't recall that rain was forecasted anyway. It was just bad luck. It wasn't anyone's fault.

But on that particular mountain, and in that particular storm, I had WRL caring and watching out for me. And that made all the difference.

1 comment:

Black Cat said...

WRL sounds like a real gentleman - and romantic too - to give up his dry clothes and sleeping bag to you. If he hadn't, you might have become very ill.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Valentines on Villager

Valentine's Day on Villager Peak

In my short story, "Snow Creek Stories," I recount a climb in April of 1998 of Snow Creek on the north face of Mt. San Jacinto. I did this climb with WRL and friends. Unfortunately, I did not make it to the peak of Mt. San Jacinto that day. The climb was too difficult for my level of climbing.

But two months earlier over Valentines Day, WRL took me on a climb of Villager Peak in Anza Borrego Desert State Park. We camped out over night at the top. This is a very short story about that climb.



Valentine's on Villager



Saturday, February 14, 1998. I had met WRL a couple of months prior, and we began dating. We both enjoyed hiking, although I learned later that WRL is a world class mountaineer, having climbed some of the biggest mountains in the world. Aconcagua, McKinley, Gasherbrum, among others. I thought it was a big deal to climb in the Sierras in California, where the tallest mountain, Mt. Whitney, is just over 14,000'.

Eventually I became keenly aware of the the differences in our climbing abilities. But while love was new, WRL suggested an overnight campout on Villager Peak for Valentines Day.

Villager rises just over five thousand feet from about sea level, and averages a 14% grade up a ridge for 6 1/2 miles. The view from the peak includes a panorama of the Salton Sea to the east, Borrego Valley to the southwest, and Rabbit peak to the north. This was an unusual idea for celebrating Valentines, but I was charmed and amused. And in honesty, I think I wanted to impress him with my hiking abilities.

We left San Diego around 4:00 am, and arrived in Anza Borrego about 5:30 am. We were equipped and hiking by 6:00 am. To reach the base of the ridge, we crossed Rattlesnake Canyon Wash, which can best be described as a maze of gullies criss-crossing each other. We reached the base around 6: 45, and started on the old indian trail up the ridgeline.


Villager is spectacularly beautiful. But this particular story is not about the scenery. When we left that morning, the sky was overcast, although the clouds did not seem to be storm clouds. As we continued with the hike, the sky darkened swiftly, and the temperature dropped. Soon we were in a heavy fog, so heavy that I couldn't see very far in front of me. Rain began to fall in the early afternoon, yet, we had gone too far to turn back. We continued on.


My equipment, the backpack and my clothing, were not waterproofed, or even water resistant. By the time we reached the peak, I was soaked through and freezing. My fingers were numb, and I couldn't help WRL with pitching the tent. I sat under a pinyon pine trying to avoid more rain.


Once the tent was pitched, I got in. WRL climbed in after me. My shivering grew more obvious, and I sat quietly in the corner of the tent. WRL unpacked his backpack, and his clothes and sleeping bag were dry. He insisted that I take off my wet clothes and put on his dry ones. I gratefully complied with one exception. I declined the balaclava as they make me feel claustrophobic.

Then WRL insisted that I take his dry sleeping bag. I got in and waited for the inside of the bag to warm up.

WRL brought out his MSR stove, and boiled a small pot of water. I don't recall what we had to eat, other than it was a pasta meal in a "make it in the packet" foil container. It tasted fabulous. I think we had hot chocolate for dessert.

WRL took my wet sleeping bag, and I am sure he was freezing all night. But he took care of me, and I was warm.

I am not much of a complainer, although I am sure other women (yes even some men!) would have whined and moaned. So I didn't complain about the cold or rain. To do so would have changed nothing. I could have checked the weather report prior to our trip, yet I don't recall that rain was forecasted anyway. It was just bad luck. It wasn't anyone's fault.

But on that particular mountain, and in that particular storm, I had WRL caring and watching out for me. And that made all the difference.

1 comment:

Black Cat said...

WRL sounds like a real gentleman - and romantic too - to give up his dry clothes and sleeping bag to you. If he hadn't, you might have become very ill.