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Stage 13 - Todra Gorges

Not a bad sleep, given the conditions; sure happy to have my ear plugs with me on this trip. Alnif is a positively happening place once Iftar arrives, and the village kids go crazy after being turbo-charged with sugar. That or the parents just kick them outside for much of the night.

The morning started slow and seemed to drag a little; I had to keep checking if my tires were flat or if a trickster was holding onto my saddle. Alas, neither was the case. Just tired legs, I suppose, or maybe a little dehydrated from yesterday. I finally caught Brad & Mark at about 50 km when they’d pulled in at a coke stop (which in this case, were actually cold). Once that done and presumably a little sugar into our respective systems, we moved on, departing from the main road onto a winding, quiet lane type of road. This was far nicer. Date palms and indications of an irrigation system. Mostly brown right now, but clearly the area has to get floods, given the condition of the road on all its low points.

Then back into a busier road, through several villages and one larger town (Tinerhir) and finally started the main climb of the day. Short but rather steep in places with a couple of dramatic switchbacks. And finally to camp. This was always going to be a short day, with no lunch on the road; only getting that once arrived into camp for the day. But it’s a primo campsite tonight, for sure (best of the trip, I think).

Scarf down a quick lunch, set up the tent, establish that the bar sells only coffee and soft drinks, think about the legs briefly, and set off to explore the gorge. Our camp is at the mouth of the Todgha (or Todwa ?) Gorges, a series of limestone river canyons, or wadi, in the eastern part of the High Atlas. I’m told that it’s only 5-6 km cycle up the road … sure enough, a very dramatic, really narrow and high gorge is reached. A sort of road continues through, so I follow along. Eventually, the main gorge opens up a little, and the road narrows and steepens. I go around yet one more bend and encounter some French climbers scaling a wall. Well, I really only encounter one of them, as he’s on the ground, belaying; his mate is somewhere above, out of sight. We chat for a bit in my flawless French and his excellent English. His dog kindly licks the road dust clean from the mouth/nipple of my water bottle. I turn around and head back down the road.

Stop for a freshly squeezed orange juice - delicious.

The showers back in camp are really good; scalding hot water and a trickle of cold. Either or, it seems. Roasted whole lamb for dinner; Mark tried to do it (or them) by hanging the meat vertically over the fire, but that engineering didn’t seem to work, so it was back to conventional horizontal grilling. Anyway, end result was impressively good.

Another day complete.

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