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La Vita Grassa

My Photo
Location: Aarhus, Denmark

Monday, July 09, 2007

Toubkal Take 2

As if climbing Jbel Toubkal once was not enough for me ...

The mind, in ebullient anticipation seemed to forget pain and misery ...

Participants: Bob & Linda Smith, Frank Sposito, Me

All Photos taken by Frank Sposito

We stayed in quaint little Asni,

At the foot of Morocco's famous (tallest) peak

Meditated by the streams
In the evening before our ascent

Found random inscripted rocks ...

And rose early of the morn
To venture up the hillsides worn
By tracks of mules and trekkers
And tourists trying to break their own records

Through valleys dotted with poppies crimson
And veiled, blushing Berber girls picked them

Up the rocky slopes we meandered

And fog o're mountaintops hovered

Brooked streams via stepping-stone bridges in stroll

And gazed back at the villages spilled o're the knolls

Then upwards our eyes turned to savage mountain ridges
And mules piled high with foodstuffs, quotidian driven

Through passes our ears heard water's rushing
Confirmed when into our sights manifest cascading

Took advantage of brisk upper bodies pooling
To wade in naked toes and heals, quickly cooling

And decided it high time for repast
And sat by the streams recalling the past

Bob and Linda, volunteers from the Desert Figuig
Reveled in the gamboling mountain streams

And Frank and I from the desert ourselves
And worn out from a week of trainings compelled
Found felicity though flagging from the ascent

On we trudged through rocky pass and ravine
And stared at the heights to summit we dreamed

And took our good rest and toast in the sun

And rose up again stretching sore appendage
Moved on again upwards and towards e'er strained

Till at last we beheld in a valley so green
The refuge we sought, a structure of stone and clean

And finally the day's trek culminated in recess of sore feet
And sat on the balcony watching clouds gather and sipping mint tea

(Maybe I'll finish the poem later, I weary of this silliness at present)

It was frigid: couscous steaming in the cozy kitchen
There was no electricity in the refuge yet: we did everything by gas or candle light.

Day 2: Ascending from refuge toward summit

Bob and Linda resting ... summit-ing proved a rather strenuous task. The guides all make light of it.. oh, three hours up and down, that's all. Right.

Mountain man

At that altitude, even in June - and considering the wind blustering over the High Atlas Mountains from all sides at the summit - Linda and I huddled against rocks soaking up sun.

We did it! It was weird to pant my way up to that same metal triangle again, almost a year later.

I didn't plan on taking this trip with the three of them, but after our training in Agadir I was invited along ... which means, I was not prepared for the trip, and hiked it in my Chaco Sandals. Besides the scree ascending and descending from the Summit, the Chacos served me well: I was the only one with out blisters and purple toes.

These shoes have literally walked all over Morocco with me.

Jacket and shorts. It kinda worked.
Heading back down after a quarter of an hour to revel in our accomplishment.

None of us enjoyed the scree...

Some of us were almost crawling on our bellies at times, or jumping from boulder to boulder like islands between the graveling, slippering slopes.

Despite the late month, there were still massive slabs of iced snow...

I don't believe I've ever tramped through snow in sandals, shorts and a sun hat before.

And felt quite comfortable in the process.

The pictures do them little justice - neither Frank nor the Aqua pools of water that fell down ravines at our sides.

Glimpse of my favorite aqua blue pool

Coming down the valley towards Asni

Richard Branson (?) has a famous Kasbah/hotel on the peak

Meandering through the last stretch...

Frank, Linda and Bob were a fantastic crew to hike with. We went at our own pace, no hurry or rush, and enjoyed the scenery along the way. All Peace Corps volunteers.
But not a "typical bunch"... much better :)

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Cascades of Ouzoud

On my way from here to there...
I stopped for a bit of fresh mountain air

Walked to a precipice and away fell the earth ...

And water rushed too and with it my breath

For until your feet are standing on edge
No one can fathom what awaits you ahead
Irrigation trench streams turn into falls
Clamorous, glamorous, uproarious and tall

And the mouth of the world opens wide
Before your toes into a great paradise
And your eyes follow waterfall fall fall
As it rushes from pool to spill into pool

Little bridges and people, like an imaginary
Place stretch across rivulets and up scary
Hills where stairs meander through olive tree
Boughs covering hillside and oft a snatch of path appears

Amidst all the ruckus of splashing and tumbling
My mind drew away to a quiet still rumbling
I devoured my book and scribbled all day
Thoughts pouring through me on pages to stay

Little blue and green rafts cobbled
Together with rusted barrel and rotten
Wood, offering tours to glide through
The pools to a waterfall's frothy spew

And then I was sitting, having some lunch
When who do you think I found all hunched
And clambering up the mud walls ... but barbary apes
My bread, their little paws snatched and made great escape