Guess What I Did Last Weekend

Madison Sommers
May 13, 2013

Guess what I did last weekend. I hiked the highest mountain in North Africa: Toubkal. It’s a 13,671 ft peak in the middle of Morocco, part of the Atlas mountains. It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.

Now, I’m not much of a hiker, and I’ve lived my whole life at sea-level. Neither of these things were good preparation for this mountain. But my friends convinced me to go, so we hired a guide, packed up a mule, and headed up.

We took the train from Rabat to Marrakech and then spent the first night in a little town called Imlil. The next day we headed out early in the morning for the refuge at the base of Toubkal. It was about a six hour hike, and I knew it was going to be rough when I started getting dizzy after our first serious uphill portion. I had to stop and breathe for a bit, but the problem was that with each breath I didn’t feel like I was getting enough oxygen. I had to do this several more times over the next few hours as the hike got higher and higher. And every now and then we had to pull over for an incoming mule. We reached the refuge after 2pm and got lunch and dinner there. We rested the rest of the day.

The next morning we were up at 4:30. Well, we actually were up at 4 since the Brits who were across from us in the bunks were all shining their headlamps in our faces. We got our start at about 5:30 but it became clear pretty quickly that I wasn’t going to make it without help. The guide sent my friends along with another group and proceeded to hold my hand and pull me along the rest of the way to the summit. I wouldn’t have made it to the top if I hadn’t had him providing the forward momentum, and stopping me from falling a few times. There was still a decent amount of snow and ice, so it was a bit tricky to find footing. We did finally make it to the top after a few hours and then started the decent. This was more tricky; it was easier to breathe, but also a lot easier to fall, so it was slow going. We did make it back down, sledding part of the way, and had lunch at the refuge. We packed the mule again and then headed back down to Imlil. We did a total of 11 hours of hiking that day. Our guide was running around like a mountain goat (which we did see a bunch of) but we went a lot slower.

We did make it down fine, despite some slipping and sliding, and had a good night at the hostel. The next day we headed back to Rabat on the train, and we were all pretty sore. It took about a week for my legs to stop hurting. But considering that I did something that I thought I would never do, even while I was in the middle of it, I’m pretty sure I earned that soreness. All things considered, I’m pretty proud of my hike; I don’t want to do it again, but it will serve as a good marker for measuring what I can do. Was that as hard as Toubkal? No? Then suck it up, Maddy.

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Madison Sommers

<p><span style="color: rgb(29, 29, 29); font-family: Arial, Verdana, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: normal; background-color: rgb(237, 237, 237);">I am a third-year student at Saint Michael&#39;s College in Vermont majoring in Gender Studies with a double minor in Philosophy and Political Science. I hope to attend law school after graduation, and want to work with women who are victims of domestic violence. I also have a fascination with neurology and would like to find some way to combine the two. I enjoy traveling and lived abroad in France after graduating early from high school. My current home is in New Hampshire with my parents, sister, dog, and two cats. I love cooking, knitting, reading, and art, and am looking forward to experiencing Moroccan culture. I have always had a passion for gender issues and am excited to study gender from a Moroccan perspective. I hope I can share my experience of Moroccan culture with you.</span></p>

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