Here, we present a thoughtful piece from Brian Connery as he ventures on an Atlas trek in Morocco. From Imlil to Armed to Setti Fatma, Brian takes you on a quick, yet in-depth adventure of summitting and hiking around Jebel Toubkal in the High Atlas region.
Sleep was constantly disturbed with fearful visions of us becoming a magic carpet heading back down the valley.
From Imlil to base camp is a five hour trek ascending 1470 meters. Fearing the wrath of the SPCA (society for the prevention of cruelty to Australians), I arranged a mule to carry our heavy backpacks up to base camp. Erecting our tent on a dirty gravel pad in the wind shadow of the massive refuge, we proceeded to secure every anchor point with pegs and boulders.
During the night the alpine gusts strained these anchor points and rattled the tent un-relentlessly. Sleep was constantly disturbed with fearful visions of us becoming a magic carpet heading back down the valley. At day break we were woken up by several teams of trekkers heading for the summit. Pressured by this bee-hive of activity, we got our act together and started for the 960 m ascent as well.
The Japanese group were the first to encounter altitude problems. Their lead guide yelled down to ” leave the struggling lady with some food and continue”. We yelled back ” your a guide and don’t you ever do that”! Reaching the summit of Jebel Toubkal in the High Atlas Mountains (4167 m – the highest point in North Africa), we shared this joyous occasion with one other couple from France for half an hour before the waves of trekkers arrived.
We descended via another col to complete a circuit passing through a boulder field strewn with the wreckage of an old twin engine airplane that crashed many years ago. For the next four days we became the mules as we backpacked eastward into three new valleys.
How much it reminded us of Nepal: primitive terraced villages in the valleys, sleeping in “Gites” (guest house), and facing a high pass each day to change valleys. Trekkers here quickly step aside for loaded mules but none stepped aside for mule Doyle or mule Connery. Has our preconcieved image of Morocco been confirmed? It has been surpassed many times over. Now the english speaking world has to come and discover what the French have known for many years!