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Retreat Report: Day 2 in Morocco

Day two starts with morning tea and views of the Ourika Valley. In the outdoor yoga shala on the property, I lead a morning meditation and movement prep before our hike. Waiting for us afterwards is a breakfast spread on the terrace: fresh fruit, avocado, yogurt, nuts, dried fruit, and some authentic Moroccan food like shakshuka and crispy Moroccan pancakes.

Time to hike. We have two guides and two mules which carry water and snacks for us as well as cold eucalyptus towels. This will be a six-miler in the stunning natural landscape of the Ourika Valley: At times we are in the desert, at others it feels like we could be on Mars. We walk through a pine forest and as we are getting closer to the Berber village, we pass fields piled high with mounds of salt.

We arrive at a local Berber house for lunch and are greeted with mint tea and mixed nuts. Upstairs, a beautiful lunch awaits. We are first passed hot bread from their clay oven. I learned that this bread has zero preservatives and actually goes stale within hours if you don’t eat it. It’s delicious.

At times we are in the desert, at others it feels like we could be on Mars. We walk through a pine forest and as we are getting closer to the Berber village, we pass fields piled high with mounds of salt.

Nicole Kupish

When we arrive back at the hotel, there’s time for the Hamman, a massage, or to relax by the pool. Matt Delaney [Equinox’s national manager of innovation, pictured above] and I are offering 30-minute coaching sessions with trip participants to discuss topics such as jet lag recovery, pre/post hike nutrition, managing altitude, and summit mindset (we set expectations for participants regarding challenges that could come about on the mountain and how to mentally overcome them).

Before dinner, Matt leads a talk on the science of sleep, giving background information on the UCLA sleep study, discussing best practices, and then opening it up for a Q&A in  which everyone participated; asking questions about the merits of robot blankets, best macronutrients to consume as bedtime snacks, and tactics to reduce jetlag. Now it’s time to put that knowledge to action with an early night—tomorrow is a big day: We’ll begin to climb Toubkal, the “peak” of our trip.

Photos: Will Mayer; Location: Kasbah Bab Ourika (top photo)