Hike thru Berber Villages & Jebel Toubkal Ascent
Trip Start Feb 19, 2010
257Trip End Jan 31, 2012
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Where I stayed
(Been a couple of weeks since walk so this will probably, note probably, be short. At least shorter than if I had written it earlier.
Day 1 : Marrakech –imi oughlad –tizi n'tachte –tiziane
Set my alarm for what I thought was 8pm but which was really 9pm. Unfortunately day light saving started the day of the hike and all the clocks were moved 1 hour forward. Thankfully had packed the night before and it didnt take to long to get ready though still had to wait for Dave (UK) who was sharing the taxi with me. He certainly likes to chat.
Nice enough drive to the start of the hike but as we got higher; more and more clouds rolled in and by the time we arrived couldnt see much of the surrounding mountains
Had lunch and thankfully as we walked the clouds started to clear. More and more blue sky slowly started to appear. Given the hieght never exceeds 2000m not really sure how much of an aclimatization this walk or the next day or two really are.
Kept walking for a couple of hours through a couple of small villages, a pass (tiz n’tachete) and a river until we reached the Gite where we were to spend the night. pretty easy walk without a pack, and the exercise from the two weeks in spain, but was happy I taped my toes up straight away because they were starting to feel hot. Guess the skin on them hasnt recovered yet from the previous walk.
After dumping my bag decided to wander round the village a bit
Probably would of been nice if I knew a bit of french to make communcation possible but Im sure that lots of them only know Berber anyway. As I continued wandering I also had some kids throw rocks (near me) but I think its how they pass the time since they were doing it even before I arrived (though in a different direction). Nothing near me and I pretended to catch the rocks and through them back, got a laugh but may of also encouraged them to keep it up. Ended up walking towards them when I got sick of the rocks and the kids took off for a bit though they did reappear. All part of the game. Thankfully before it got to dark was able to manage to find my way back to the Gite where I had tea with the group. Found that we had caught the second group (4 spanish guys) who were the other group doing the same hike and departing on the same date. Both had our own guides and muleteers but ended up doing the rest of the walk as a single group of eight. Guess the guides at least now had each other to talk to ( beside the tourists) at rest breaks.
Day 2 : tizziane – tizi n’taghrhourte – D’knt
Next 3 days were basically a walk over one pass around a mountain, over a second pass back to the previous valley and then continuing up and over another pass to reach the foot of the mountain.
Had coffe/tea/juice, bread, jam, cream cheese, nutella and bread for breakfast
Started off up the assif n’ait oussaden valley. On the way up to the pass tizi n’taghrhourte (1995m ) hiked passed a number of villages with their terraced gardens used to provide the local food for the region. Saw a number of villagers farming the grain and carrying large bundles on their heads back from the fields to villages. Also wander passed a number of local goat herds.
Stopped for luch by a stream . Bread, Salad, fish and I forget what else. I think it was a nice bean tajine but not 100 percent sure. Know I was having lots of beans because I had lots of gas. Anyway, the spanish guys took a photo of a dog which started a heated debate with the owner (goatherder) about whether they should pay. It appears that its not just people you cant photograph. Get caught photographing anything and you'll get in trouble or someone asking for money.
After lunch continued walking through a number of villages until we reached the gite we were staying at. Had thought of having a Hamman ( a number of people did) but was thankful I was out wandering through the village at the time
Spent the evening chatting and then looking at the stars. Not as many as I would of expected. Maybe there was more light polution than I thought there would be from the villages small street lights. Either that or theres not so many stars (ie no milky way strip) in the northern hemisphere.
Day 3 : D’knt – tizi n’tagdalte – tizi oussem
Had breakfast and started walking through villages and terraced farmland. Wandered along a small river at the beginning of the valley of assif n’ait oussaden. River that had some small falls and we ccrossed it on a number of occassions. From here we enter the village of tizi oussem (1850m) then up to the summer village Of Tamsoult for our camp. Interesting looking valley with lots of cultervated land and an interesting valley. Most interesting part of the day for me was hoping across rocks in order to cross the river. Interesting how some people found this harder than others. Guess you need to trust your feet and your balance.
Spent the night in a Gite rather than village at the top of a valley. Had some nice views of the valley and went wandering up the nearby hills. Even saw a donkey in the distance makes its way up a steep slope one zig zag at a trime. Guess that in the mountains, mules are really the only viable way to transport people and goods around in some of the places. Given lots of people live on the mountainside in tyhe middle of nowhere, not having a donkey would mean needing to lug in all your own daily supplies
Day 4 : ┬azib Tamsoult -TiziI Aguelzim - Toubkal Refuge
Early start since the Mules have to go the long way due to snow in the pass. Crossed a stream a couple more times today which was fun and spent about 4 hours walking uphill to reach the top of the pass. Lots of stops on the way but for once the guide let me wander ahead when we were going u a step zigzaig that had about 150 zigs and zags. Group basically stopped 3 times while I stopped for a few seconds here and there to look at the view, take a photo and given my body a chance to cool and heart to slow a bit. Waited about 15 minutes for the rest to catch up at the top while I enjoyed the views.
Had a short packed lunch at the top of the pass (Tizi Aguelzim, 3550m) and got my first view of Jebel Toubkal since starting the walk. People rested while I decided to wander around the top of the pass. On the way down to the Toubkal refuge had to cross some snow which was interesting. Thankfully previous people walking across it leaving a bit of a trail to follow. Was still slow going and need to watch out that I didnt end up sliding down the slope.
Reached the Toubkal refuge (3207m) after about 8 hours and for once was feeling tired. Guess the long day and lack of oxygen at the higher altitude is kicking in. Vegged out a couple of hours but then decided to go for a wander up the valley. Headed up towards the pass I would have crossed if I had done the circuit walk but thankfullyt it was getting late so decided to not try crossing the snow to the top of the pass. definately havethis anoyying habit that if I start walking up, I like to keep going until there is no longer any more up to go
Had another 3 coarse meal of soup, spagetti and pinapple before playing a bit of carda nd wandering outside to look at the stars.
Day 5 : Toubkal Refuge - Summit Jebel Toubkal- Sidi Chamharouch - Imlil
Early breakfast and headed off around 7am for a roughly 3hr walk up the Jebel. Would of been auicker but had a number of stops along the way. Great views of teh surrounsinding valleys and mountains from the top. Spent about "Ómin before heading back down.
Managed to While walking across some snow managed to get a rock falling down on me. Some peopel above dislodged a rock about twice the si*ze of my head and sent it bouncing down the hill. Initially no where near me but with the lumpy snow ended up with it directly above me and me wondering which way it would bounce next. Ended up bouncing one way and thankfully I went the other way. Guess it it had hit it would definately have left at least a bruise and sent me sliding don the snow.
Found snow in a few places on the way down and a couple of slide marks. Managed to convinve the guides to let me take the auick way down. On my but. Unfortunately the first track had a number of bumps and a couple of sharp turns. Guess I went a little to fast. Hit a bump. Hit a turn. Started tumbling and trying to right my direction. Somehow ened back in the groove and continued sliding down. Unfortunately managed to graze both my elbows since I had had my sleaves rolled up. Always forget how abrasive snow can be. Guess I dont see enough of it. All in all good fun and did it a couple of times more though I was probably lucky I didnt do it more since I found a hole in my pants ( thankfully it was on the pocket) on my butt. Can also see a few scratch marks.
Had lunch at the refuge and headed back down passing all the people who came up just to climb the Mountain. Upon reaching Imlil said buy to the rest of the group and organised to meet them in Marakech the following night for dinner. Checked my bags into the hotel andthen spent a bit of time wandering around town. Imlil seems like a nice place to veg a bit if you want to get out of the big towns. Pretty auite and at least the main strip seems to have lots of guides around. Guess it wouldnt be two hard to organise an overnight hike here and a longer one probably wouldnt be to bad though need a couple of days to sort out logistics.
Overall enjoyed the walk though hiking without a pack and doingthe two weeks of preparation in Spain made the walk seem a little to easy. It always nice to have a bit of a challenge and while the knee was feeling sore from the ups and down ( not sure if it would of survived a pack) my body at the end of it wasnt particularly sore and didnt feel as if it had done that much work
Must say that I really dislike walking with a group of people. Guess one of the things I like about walking are the 3 S's, Solitude, Silence and Sufferring. Maybe not so much the last one but without a little suffering it doesnt really feel like much of a challenge. Have previously found that I dont an easy walk if the hike is only a couple of days or if I'm camping but like to feel Ive worked if I go hiking for an extended time. Guess thats were carrying a pack always makes it seem like hard work. Got to carry those extra kilos your not use to carrying.
While I dont mind sharing a campsite at night or hiking with a friend or two (especially if we go our own pace) I definately dont like my pace set by a group and having to listen to the constant chatter of people talking. Its amazing how someone needs to rest because they cannot go on, yet seem to somehow manage to find the breath to keep talking while walking.
I guess in the end I like the relative quite of nature, hearing by own breath and the crunch of the rocks under my feet or the creak of my pack
Definately would not want to do an organised tour hike again. Not unless the cost to do otherwise is restrictive. I guess in this case it was less about cost and more about having to spend the time to organise things. I would think with two or more people it would definately be more economical to organise things for yourself. Dont get me wrong, for a solo hiker the tour was a quick and easy way to get things done at a reasonable price. Probaby cheaper ( or the same price) as if I organised it myself but without any hassle. The 30 Euro transfer was also a rip off given I managed to get back for 5 Euro. If I had know the trail head was closer to Imlil I would of made my own way to Imlil and then the hike would definately of been more economical than doing it myself.
Unfortunatley by doing the tour I had to trade off at least the first two of the three S's. I think I actually had less noise over the pilgrimage walk than this one but I guess in that one I set my own pace for the most part.
Overall enjoyed the hike but could have done more.