Plan! early start, mules to Nelter refuge at foot of Toubkal, summit with bikes, back to refuge with bikes, ride bikes back to Imlil.
05:30 and alarms are ringing! time to get up and after 5-6 hours sleep the two previous nights, we're feeling quite blunt, but hey ho, the mules and muleteers are arriving at 06:00. We had already prepared our day packs on Wednesday night so we just put on our riding kit and headed outside. Problem. The door is locked and the rest of the dar are still in dream world, including Abdul who sleeps outside next to the kitchen. We consider climbing around from a balcony to the top of the stairs, but low and behold 'clip, clop' the mules arrive and instantly wake up Abdul.
We head down and dismantle the Mojo HD's so they can slot together in the saddle bags that hang either side of the mules. Keeping the height down was key as being too high would cause instability for the mules. Eventually they slotted together in a loving embrace and very secure.
We headed up and over the hill that skirts around a place called 'Around' (1830m). The path through the walnut grove was quite rocky so we started subconsciously locking in lines for our descent.
The mule directly in front of me seems to have bit of an 'ass' thing going on as it kept on farting and dropping load after load with Jase oblivious up top.
As soon as we left Around we had a view down the valley across a huge dried river bed covered with loose rocks about the size of a baby heads. We travelled the length of the dried bed to what looked like the beginning of the mountain side trail. The trails were dry and dusty with a small amount of rocks - like ever other trail around here it seems.....
We gradually climb for another 2km before catching sight of Chammharouch (2350m), which featured a huge white boulder that's rolled down from the mountaintops and the tiny village has been built around it. Passing through quickly to avoid delay and the inevitable bartering with sellers, we started climbing switchbacks out of the village which began to get quite hairy and loose. The bikes on-board the lead mule where staying secure and we were having to manoeuvre back and forth on the mule backs to stabilise them as you do in the saddle of a bike, bonus!
The roughness of the path and the small rock gates became much more evident now and Jase turned to me with the comments 'this looks ridable!' Little did we know how hard this trail was going to be.
Still looking swoopy with the odd rock in the way, we tootled along. Omar and Hussain seemed to be have an easy time of it having jokes and laughs along the way. In the busy season, they make this trip of 9km each way climbing from 1700m to 3200m 3 times per week!
Staring up at this steep wall of scree, and the visible rock traverses above, the toughness of what we were about to undertake started sinking in. However, we were still on schedule so at 12.00 we started our ascent.