High Atlas Mountains + Mount Toubkal trek / 7 days / April 24 to April 30, 2019 / World Expeditions
Tiziane via Tizi N’Touati to the Tassaka Plateau; overnight in Tizgui (about 1800m)
Okay, so. Today was interesting. As much as I had prepped with spin classes back home, I was not ready for the steepness of this trek [post trek note: so I had thought but when I got home, I tested positive for asthma. Explains a few things!] My fitness had improved over the past few months but good lord, I continued to suck at uphill hiking. And the morning was ONLY uphill. For three hours. The first part of the morning was hiking up a dry riverbed, meaning lots of rocks. Then we connected to a trail (also super rocky) that ultimately took us to the mountain pass. At one point, our guide made me walk behind him, saying it would be easier for me to keep up that way – it was more like public shaming was what made me keep up! For awhile anyway.
When I wasn’t busy trying to breathe, I thoroughly enjoyed the scenery around me. I loved the contrast of the red soil and the green trees. Once we passed a local man and two local women on donkeys heading down the trail; perhaps they were going to the village we had just left? We also passed by an isolated home. There was a woman there picking what seemed like thistles; behind her was a pen full of goats and kids (baby goats, not humans). Just before the pass, we had our official snack break – dried fruits and nuts. Our entertainment was a herd of goats foraging for grass, some of them crankily bleating at the world and others cheerfully gamboling around the place. The landscape view was beautiful with snow capped mountains in the distance.
Then, thank god, it was mostly downhill to the lunch site. As usual, downhill was better for me and I pretty much kept up with the group. Part way down the mountain, I could see our lunch site spread out under a giant shady tree – it was certainly motivation to continue! Lunch was vegetables, lentils, tuna, bread, cheese, and honeydew. I normally hate honeydew but the ones in Morocco were absolutely delicious! I also broke down and had a pee behind a gnarled tree on top a rocky knoll, looking out at the valley in the distance. Maybe one day I’ll do a post on beautiful places to pee, haha.
After lunch, we hiked for another two hours. It was stunning – deep reds and greens, valleys and mountains as far as the eye could see, windy rocky trails going down and up and down again. The annoying thing was, this was the afternoon my camera decided to act up – none of the photos taken after lunch recorded on the SD card! And I didn’t notice the warning on the camera’s screen because the sun was very bright and harsh, making screens difficult to read. I was so sad; thankfully, I have a handful from when I used the camera on my phone, so all was not lost. But still… *sobs*
We ended the day in a village that was steeply part way down the mountain. At that point, I was getting so very tired. The trail was still very rocky and only as wide as my two feet; sometimes it was even right at the edge of a steep roll down the tall mountains. If I wanted to admire the view, I only did so when I stopped walking. I was tired enough that I couldn’t trust myself to do both at the same time!
In the village, people seemed friendly. Many, especially the children, said “Bonjour”. We stayed at a guesthouse which was relatively nice despite being cold and damp. We were supposed to be camping tonight but our guide got word that the government had just forbidden camping for the rest of April as the weather was “too unpredictable”. Who knows what the real reason was. But honestly, due to the cold of the nights, it was nice to be inside. We also had an opportunity to take a shower which wasn’t as nice as it sounded. The shower had no head and had to be used like a hose. Also, the squat toilet was right next to the shower, no barrier or even much space between the two.
The rest of the afternoon was spent setting up our rooms, airing out hiking clothes, spending time on the roof terrace to listen to the call to prayer emanating from the mosque next door, snacks, and then the usual massive dinner.