Base Camp Rest Day . . . January 13, 2010
We were ready for a rest day as we had not stopped moving since leaving for the Denver airport on Saturday morning. We flew straight through, got a decent dinner and then drove to Santa Ana only to immediately hike into the base camp. Rest days are often hard to reconcile but with a bit of age and a lot of experience, tempered by a camp location that could not beat, we had no problem simply laying in and doing nothing for a day.
Celeste asked what time we wanted breakfast and I believe she was content with the answer . . . 9 a.m. Given the prior day's activity, I know we all got a decent night's sleep and were in no hurry to do anything. Breakfast was ready at 9 a.m. and then we proceeded to sit in the sun, watch the guanaco's pass in review, take a nap and take a walk up the valley to get a feel for the start of the route up Ramada and valley in general. Gary and Bob struck off directly across the stream course to the far side, while I took a hike toward the yellow moraines that lay below the south face of Mercedario.
The valley appears flat but in fact there is quite a gradient if you walk upstream toward Mercedario. I hopped over the various stream channels, not knowing how different the stream flows would be later in the week after the addition of a bit of snow and the import of warmer sunny days doing their magic on the glaciers and snowfields. Though the base of Mercedario seems quite close, this short walk illustrated something we learned about the Ramada range. These are BIG mountains and even though they look to have the relief of a Colorado 14'er, they in fact rise nine to ten thousand feet above the plain on which our base camp was located.
My short jaunt yielded the start of the route up Ramada and a glimpse of the mountain looking up through a gap in the red rocks of the valley. It was obvious that while we had not chosen to take on Mercedario, we had selected the first runner up and that we had a bit of a climb ahead of us. With that glimpse in hand,I wandered a mile or so back downstream to the camp for the rest of the day. No need to wear oneself out as this rest day was exactly that, a single day to rest before we left our base at 12,000 feet and climbed to our first camp at either 14,000 or 15,000 feet, depending upon how we felt and whether we found water at the first or second camping opportunity.