Saturday, 6 August 2016

Exodus - Mount Toubkal climb trip - Day 3 - Atlas Mountains

Bright and early, we packed up our bags and took them out of our tents so the guys could take down camp.
Breakfast was porridge and bread and jam (and coffee).  I successfully managed to use the toilet tent before “yalla”. Yay.

We set off through the village. Eley bought the 3 of us a round of waters (2 big bottles each). Hassan took one of mine and put it on the mule. I suspected because he thought I was weak after yesterday.
Along the road we passed women carrying massive bundles of hay/grass to store for the animals in the winter.

And we saw this lady taking these goats somewhere

When we stopped for a rest, I went down the road and used my shewee for the first time of the trip. I’m glad I wasn’t squatting as I obviously didn’t go far enough off the road (I’m bad at selecting wee spots for someone who has to go so frequently) and a woman walked by just as I finished and then all our mule guys and mules went by.

We walked on through the mountains. The ground was dry and rocky with patches of tough looking flowers. Spiky thistle things that looked like mines or sea urchins. The sun was unrelenting and it was fucking hot.

The ground got rockier as we made our way up to a stunning waterfall. Narrow and misty and dropping from high up in the rocks down in a fierce haze to the rocks below where the sun created a rainbow in the mist. MAGIC. Or science, as Hobs would correct me.

I asked Hobs to take some rainbow photos as my phone is shit and he has a fancy camera.  (I haven't seen them yet).

We walked back on ourselves a little way and then headed up a steep hill in a zig zag. It was hot and strenuous but I was in a rhythm with my steps and breathing and I felt good.

Eventually we stopped for a rest under a big tree and Hassan shared his big bag of dates/nuts/biscuits again. One of the guys in the group had to borrow some loo roll so he could go poo under another tree somewhere. I really needed to wee but I couldn’t go because I was scared I’d go the wrong way and meet him or his poo.

We carried on walking uphill till we reached our new campsite up in the mountains on the rocky ground. I put my stuff in my tent and headed behind a tree for a wee. (Finally).

Then, lunch. Another delicious lunch but my appetite was really off (altitude I think). I started losing it the previous night and at this point was struggling a bit to force food down even though it was delicious and very much the sort of food I like to eat. Veg, salad and couscous.

Not the most flattering picture I could have taken of the food...I was too tired to stand up!

After lunch, Hassan said we would set off for our optional walk at 2:30. It was something like 2:00 at that point so it felt way too soon and I wasn’t sure I wanted to go!

Me, Hobs and Eley sat under a tree and pondered it. Hobs was a definite yes. Eley wasn’t sure. Neither was I but I felt like I had something to prove after my difficulties the day before.

Eley and Hobs took turns in the toilet tent (which had a better toilet hole with easier-to-balance-on stones this time). Hobs and Eley told me they only poo every couple of days. I said I go every day and that they don’t eat enough vegetables! I guess everyone has a different normal though.

Stay over there, toilet tent!
At 2:30 we decided we were in for the optional walk and off we set uphill, zigzagging again on the stony ground in the hot sun. Eley wasn’t feeling it at all and after about 15 mins he decided to have a rest and go back to camp. I momentarily wondered if I should join him so he wouldn’t be alone but I actually wanted to go on by that point and I realised he would actually be fine.

So we carried on zigzagging up till we got to a huge rock which we all rested on before going further up in a different direction.

The stony ground was surprisingly alive with shrubby plants. Wiry round bushes of tiny flowers and geometric stalks. Little white stars. Tiny pink dots. Small bursts of yellow. Odd curving clumps of spiralling dry grass.

We reached the top for an impressive view down the valley and across the surrounding mountains. We were on the wrong side to see Toubkal but we could see the village we would be staying in on Friday.

Heading down was harder than up! My knees and fear of falling do not like going down. And I was getting a bit tired to concentrate properly so I was slipping and sliding everywhere on the scree. I had to move towards the back of the line because I was causing a traffic jam. Others struggled too. Hobs had special walking sticks and breezed down.

The rest of the day is a bit of a blur. We had tea.   
We spent time chatting on the rocks, watching the goats on the surrounding mountainside as they frolicked and climbed trees. It poured with rain. We had dinner. The sun started to set.

I went to bed while it was still light so I wouldn’t need to faff about with my stupid phone. Also, I was exhausted.

I got up to wee around 1am though. I found my way behind a tree but coming back got a bit lost. The light from my phone was enough to see the ground and not trip, but not enough to see ahead of me. Luckily I saw the dinner tent glowing white in the moonlight and it turned me back the right way.

The stars were beautiful. 

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