Monday, 15 August 2016

Exodus - Mount Toubkal climb trip - Day 4 - altitude struggles in the Atlas Mountains

This day of the trip was my struggle day. I think the whole group suffered mild effects of the altitude which include headaches, nausea, appetite loss, shortness of breath and trouble sleeping. My main symptom was appetite loss and I didn't force enough food down this day which led to utter fatigue. I'm very thankful that by the end of the day I seemed to adjust.


Really struggled to eat breakfast – only managed some porridge and jam, no bread. The whole day is a bit of a blur. At some point there was chat of a goat being bought the previous night, but Hassan said it wasn’t because it was too expensive.

The others called today ‘switchback’ day. I think it involved walking up a mountain, zigzag fashion in the hot sun. I don’t remember it too well. I don’t remember struggling too much up the hill but I was clearly a bit out of it as my memories are so vague. At the top, Hobs bought a Fanta. So did Eley, and Eley gave the Fanta man his shark shaped bottle opener as the Fanta man was opening bottles with a knife.

The switchbacks - do you see the zigzags? That's our path up!

My photos here are very lazy, blurry shots from where I dropped down and sat. I must have already been more tired than I realised.

Lazy blurry summit photo

Heading down the other side towards the Toubkal Lodge camp, (boo downhill) I suddenly felt excruciatingly hungry. And it must have been another hour or two before we reached camp for lunch. At one point the camp appeared distantly in view, tormenting me with how far away it still was.
I realised I hadn’t been able to eat enough at breakfast and I hadn’t managed to make myself snack properly at each rest break. And there were no more rest breaks! We just continued walking down, down, down the stony mountain with great concentration. I really felt like I was running on empty. Super weak and fatigued and awful.

Heading down the valley

When we finally reached camp (we had the best spot, right in front of the lodge – thanks to our hardworking team of mules and mule guys) I could barely get my bag and mat in to a tent. I felt so shit.

Distant lodge - so far!

I headed to the closest tent to the bags, opposite Hobs and Eley, but as I reached for the zip, Ian, one of the guys in the group popped up all ‘Are you sharing with me Emmie? That’s ok with me!’ (jokingly) and I was too tired to respond properly and just said ‘Oh’ and trudged to the tent at the very end. Which once I recovered, I loved. Perfect location for someone who needs to wee in the night – near a big convenient rock.

I was so exhausted I could barely eat the lunch I was so hungry for. Plus nausea. The melon in Morocco is AMAZING though. Perfect delicious melon. Throughout, despite appetite loss and nausea, I could eat that melon. Loads of melon. The melon was excellent. I managed to eat melon.

After lunch, Hobs and Eley napped, everyone dispersed and I felt a bit aimless. Then I spotted lovely Tony (one of the guys in the group) and we decided to go shower in the lodge. Real shower! We paid at reception and headed to the bathroom where a queue was forming. Lovely Tony let me shower first and was still queueing when I came out. 

I spotted Richard (another guy in the group) on the terrace outside and chatted with him for a bit.
Tony soon joined us and I thanked him again for letting me shower first. Lovely Tony.

I got chilly after a bit though and headed to my tent to find my fleece. The moment I got in, the rain started and it sounded crazy! And that’s when I started writing my journal, alone in my tent in the pouring rain. I think most of us were in our tents during the downpour.

After the rain, we had tea. At this point, whenever Hassan said it was tea time, we thought it meant dinner time and that dinner was very early. Hassan said “No, TEA time! Don’t you speak English?”
And after tea, we stood around chatting till it was actually dinner time. And I successfully ate my whole dinner! Yessssss.  (Hobs thinks that he and the other meat eaters ate the goat I mentioned at the start of this post. He's fine with that. I'm so glad I'm a vegetarian!)

I went to bed while it was light again. I still felt weak and tired and a bit worried I wasn’t going to make it up Toubkal. I was determined to get a good rest.

Every sleep (I think for all of us) had been a bit sporadic and restless.

Have you ever felt the effects of altitude? Can you force down food as fuel even when you have no appetite?

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