We’re off! The views, even from the start, are impressive. We’re a group of 18 with four local guides (one has summited Toubkal 415 times and another, 134), plus some mules and porters carrying additional water and food. One man on a mule is chanting in Berber as we slowly make our way up the mountain and the sound is almost meditative. We pass four small huts on our way up and all get fresh squeezed orange juice, plus some salty snacks (I never knew how delicious Pringles could be until this trip) in order to maintain our energy and hydration levels. The potential of altitude sickness has been stressed so I’m constantly sipping from my Camelbak. The guides are knowledgeable and attentive and we have all been instructed to make sure we communicate with them if we start to feel symptoms of altitude sickness such as dizziness or nausea.
At first it seemed like a mirage as we approach two huge elegant tents housing fully-set tables and plates and plates of food: tagine, lentils, cucumber and tomato salad, fresh fruit. We’re literally in the middle of the Atlas Mountains, how are we eating this well?! Once we all are refueled, we start the final leg of the day to base camp. It’s starting to get a little colder as we hike and we pass a shepherd with at least a hundred grazing goats.
Finally, we see base camp in the distance. We make our way up and get settled in. Everyone is pretty exhausted by the end of this day so we have an early dinner.
Lights out. We have a (very) early wake-up call to summit tomorrow morning.
Photos: Will Mayer