Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Days 9 and 10 - Into the Mountains

Pirate packing up the bike in Midelt
This was the day (Saturday 25th July) that I was most exited about, the day we finally leave the tarmac and go high into the mountains, We were far south in Morcocco and about to attack the trail known as MH2 in Morocco Overland (by Chris Scott) this goes from Midelt through the Cirque du Jaffar up to Imichill and then south to Bolamane Dades, we were hoping to be in Dades the following evening.

The first thing I had to do was change my tyres, I had been running on road tyres up until this point but I needed to put some tyres with an aggresive tread pattern the rocky terrain that I thought was awaiting me in the mountains. I had brought with me the Mitas 644 extreme army tyre which I have used in England  and have found to be a good intermediate road/ off road tyre but suffers in slippy conditions as it tends to slide sideways. It was hot so i dedided to pay a local to change my tyres whilst we were having a breakfast of Bread Cheese and Mint tea.
Tyres being changed

Looking Back towards midelt from the Cirque Du Jaffar
After breakfast we went to visit the home of the young lad who had acted as our guide while we were in Midelt, we repayed the families hospitality by purchasing some gifts for those back home and then set off towards the big green wall of mountains that we could see from Midelt.

Riding south out of midlet we quickly lost the tarmac and hit the gravel road that marked the start of the Circque du Jaffar. This started out as a nice gravel road but as we climbed higher into the mountains it started to get very taxing. The rivers that run down the mountin had washed out parts of the track making these crossings quite taxing espeacially for Geoff on His R1200GS, we had estimated the weight of his machine with all his luggage etc to be in excess of 350kgs. We were about 20km from Midelt when the Track got so bad that Geoff decided to turn back.
Chatting with local lads in the Cicque Du Jaffar

Geoff Decided to turn back after we spoke to some local teenagers from Midelt who were hiking in the mountains and were in need of some water. We gave them some water in exchange for a little advice, They told us the the track only got worse as we climbed higher. with this knowledge Geoff rode back to Midelt with Pirate whilst Paul and I continued into the Mountain.

The Boy's were right only about 5km later the track was completely washed away and by now it was getting close to 5pm, and we were still 140km from Imichill on a tough dirt track. Paul and I had to ride down the mountain along the river bed and then a steep climb to rejoin the track. we were shown the way by a young Berber farmer.

Paul and the young Berber Lad after helping lift my bike off my leg
We last section before we rejoined the track was a short steep climb which needed full throttle to get to the top. I went first and the front wheel left the ground at the top and couldn't land it. The bike went over and my leg was underneath the bike. I was just passed the crest of this climb so couldn't be seen from the bottom of the track. I heard Paul reving to come up the hill hopin he would come up the right hand side of the hill as if he came on the left he would hit me and my bike. Luckly he did. Paul and the young lad helped lift my bike off me and we were ready to be on our way after we gave the Lad a few Dirhams for his help.

Rear Brake repair in the mountains
We contiuned on the track and narrowly missed getting caught in a thunder storm as it passed us by the tack became soaked and I came of a further 2 times on the slippy wet mud, It was here I had realised that I new that I had definitley brought to much stuff: I had doubled up on tools and brought to many clothes and the bike was handling like a pig on this wet mud.

Then Later upt the track I totally lost the rear break. I stopped to take a look at the break caliper to discover that the rear break was missing a bolt, probably lost during the tyre change in Midelt earlier, Luckly I had a spare, I put the spare bolt on the bike and we continued on to the end of the track.

Camping at Building Site in the Mountains
We rejoined the tarmac and still had 100km of mountain road to cover before Imichill and it was close to 7pm in the evening. We set out trying to make Imichill but the roads were in a bad way where glacier melt had washed away the tarmac and brough boulders on the to road. The mountain villages were great with all the local children wanting to give us high fives as we road through. In the end however we ran out of light and we started looking for an auberge or a place to camp.

We found some builders building a house in the mountains who let us stay with them, but not only did they let us stay but they also fed us and gave us tea, It was fantastic hospitaility from people who had very little to share but they shared it with us.

The Top of the Pass looking down on Dades Gorge
The next day we were treated to breakfast by the builders and we then gave them a few dirhams and got on our way. Stopping firstly at the Lac du Tislet Just out side Imichill and then setting out for Boumalne Dades, the route we were taking took us over a stunning mountain pass and then through a gorge formed by a river. This was one of the most beautiful days riding I have ever done. we didn't pass another human being for hours.

Outside the Kasbah in Boumalne Dades
In terms of incidents it was a fairly smooth day, the track was much drier as a result was easier to navigate, altough there was one point where we had to follow the river bed as the path had been totally washed away again. We arrived in Boumalne Dade at about 6pm and met Geoff and Pirate at a Service station (They had gone around on the road).

We spent the night in a Kasbah which was totally empty as the there were very few tourists in southern Morocco at this time of year because it was so hot. Dinner was a lovely chicken tagine with lemons and saffron, and the Kasbah overlooked the Town of Boulmane Dades as we watched the sun go down.

1 comment:

  1. Some beautiful views there Matt - didn't realise you'd actually made it out there! I remember you mentioning some time back that you wanted to head out to Morocco.

    Inspiring stuff- keep up with the blogs, definitely worth a read!