February 16: Cycling out of he Ouirgane Valley to Amizmiz -- then on to Agafay Desert

As morning arrived one could see that Mother Nature was once again had been busy during the night spreading her blanket of white across the mountain peaks. With yesterday's rain in the valley came snow in the higher elevations. The route today was to take the group high up into the Atlas Mountains and over to the other side. With layer upon layer of clothing, the group bid farewell to the proprietor and his mother and pedaled off down the road.

The route took the group through the Toubkal National Park following a paved but heavily pot holed road etched oh so carefully in the edge of the mountain side. With sheer cliffs rising on one side and another dropping off the other the pathway was one of pure concentration. To compound the experience the rains from the night before coupled with the melting snow had produced a blanket of mud that had washed out over the road surface at varying bends. If not careful, the mud would grab the tires and bring the bike and rider to a stop -- resulting in a squishing and soggy step into the red sediment. Up and up the group climbed slowly and carefully watching not only the road surface, but the beautiful vistas that appeared at each twist of the road. Then the snaking down the mountainside watch again for the mud and holes, but still absorbing the beauty surrounding the route. Mother Nature has out done herself in providing variety and beauty in the High Atlas Mountains

Part way over the range a picnic lunch is once again masterly served among the argan trees off the side of the road. Gourmet meals cooked over a small portable stove replenishes the soul and give energy to the body to master the next pass. Stomachs full, bodies rested and it is off to Amizmiz on the far side of the mountain range along the desert border. With bikes and riders quickly loaded into the van it is off to the Agafay Desert and the camp for the next 24 hours.

Situated well off the beaten path the camp is a series of tents set among the dunes with the Atlas Mountains as their backdrop. In the distance one can see the peak of Toubkak, the highest peak in Morocco. The desert on this side of the mountains is comprised mostly of rocks and pebbles rather than sand. While extremely windswept, it has not been reduced to the sand dunes that are so typically envisioned when one thinks of the Sahara. The tents are like little homes away from home. Each while containing comfortable beds, also have mini "happy rooms" with chemical toilets.

An evening under the stars is enjoyed by all!

Morning View from Room

On The Road Again!

Kathy

Wash Out!!!

Up We Go!

The Valley So Far Away

Higher and Higher!

Lauren: "Is This Really Mud?"

Mud and Rock Obstacles!

Road Block!

Are We There Yet?

Just a Little Farther!

Mud Check!

Can You Believe How Much Mud is in This Chain!

Jackie: "Come On Group -- We Are Almost There!"

Lunch Break

Kit On Top of The World

Sue

Master Cook At Work!

Tagines Cooking On Camping Stove

Saaid and the Mint Tea Pour

Mary, Marilyn, Lauren Enjoying the Tea

Jessica and Josie

Farmers' Crop Baskets

Jackie: "It is ALL Downhill from Here"

Marilyn, Cheryl, Lauri,Lauren, Mariann -- Coffee Break

Mary

Sue and Marilyn

The Hike to Camp

Almost There

We Made It!!!!

There It Is!!

Home For The Night

Bedroom

Happy Room!

Dining Room

Cocktail Time with Jackie and Kit

The View!!