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along the squiggly lines

MOROCCO | Friday, 19 February 2010 | Views [630]

not wanting to do it the easy way, I opt for a solo adventure (no
choice really, there is literally nobody else around), and take a
digital photograph of a topographic map (circa 1960) plastered
oh-too-conveniently on the wall. i find the mountains laid bare, and
the millenia begin to unfold before my eyes. they wage a vivid battle
for dominance in a rapidly changing landscape, if only i could watch
for more than an instant. water gushes out of the rocks at a natural
spring.  off the goat trails and following some pretty contours on my
"map", there is not a sole or a soul around, and no local shepherds to
try and explain exactly what is is i'm doing out here.  i make
solitary prints across virgin powder that snowboarders readily give
limbs just to smell. the top gives me a glimpse at what the word
"cliff" really means. a snow-covered 500 m drop, with the ants below
hurriedly scurrying to prepare for the coming nightfall, where
everything freezes.

another set of mountains, and another photographed topo map.
gorge-to-gorge. oh joy. some guided treks are done across here, but as
best i can decipher, no-one has actually done it solo (well, at least
i'm going to keep telling myself that). Berber nomads bring me in for
tea (of course) and a lunch dominated by bread baked on fired rocks.
through the mud and melting snow i scale the 3250 m peak of the Jbel
MKorn, and sit, teeth chattering, gazing across at the rest of the
snow-dipped High Atlas.  i find the trail down the other side, and set
camp in a valley supposed to have a natural spring.  there is no
spring.  i cook with snow, and the weather starts to set in.  i awake
in the morning to a tent covered in fluffy white stuff, and feel like
i've fallen through the looking glass. i wander onwards, and scramble
through a truly stunning, if brief, gorge only 3 metres wide, but 80 m
high.  now i'm sure no guided trekkers have seen this, as i have gone
"off-route" and invented my own personalised trail.  on the way Down
(capital "D" for a reason) i realise why this is not the "normal"
route.  i finish through beautiful agricultural lands dotted with
almond blossoms and fig trees, then hitch a ride to the next village
with a couple of Finns wedged in a campervan.

my boots are now a pair of wisened old men, sitting on a dusty wooden
porch, each wrinkle a story exchanged.  a shotgun behind them leans
against the wall, and each have their own whittlin' sticks.  My abode
no longer has that "new tent" smell, and at the very least it believes
it should be sitting on the porch with those two old men.  after all
this climbing, i could stand in as Brad Pitt's butt-double (circa
Fight Club), and am ready to eat something other than dates and
couscous or lentils flavoured with a mystery stock cube.

hugs and love from on high in Morocco

Tags: trekking



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