I secretly described my first day of hiking in the High Atlas Mountains of Morocco as the “death march.” Unacclimatized for a starting altitude of 8,500 feet at Oukaimeden, Morocco’s only ski resort, but with the ski lift nonfunctioning, we climbed another 1,100 feet to the pass called Tizi n’Edal, near the highest peak in the Atlas: the Toubkal Mountain region. There followed a descent of nearly 3,000 feet on the worst scree my weary hiking feet have ever encountered. But no matter, I have good, strong knees, about the only competent part of my ancient anatomy, and there at the bottom was a lovely, lush green meadow. Foolishly jubilant, I thought it would surely be our campsite. Wrong. Another two miles of traverse followed, then a final 300-foot climb to a “picturesque” site dotted with our tents. That last 300 feet felt like climbing Mount Everest.
Moroccans call mountain passes tizi. With my somewhat jaundiced outlook on that particular day, I thought the word must be misspelled, that in fact, you would get into a dizzy tizzy when you passed through them. Continue reading A hike in the atlas mountains is both challenging and rewarding