Once again the guided hiking group nearby was up and gone before I’d even woken up.
I started up into a very cool gorge section. It was dark and hazy.
This is Azib Imi n’Ouassif (2841m), a crossroads of several gorges where some people camp.
From here it’s a steep climb to the pass at Tizi n’Ouanoums.
Escapee goats live on these inhospitable cliffs. There’s not much to eat.
It was a bit of a relief to reach the second high pass of the circuit. From here it was all downhill … at least while carrying full pack.
Descending the pass was supposed to be a bit treacherous. As I crossed it wasn’t all that bad.
I could see some of the Iceland group having lunch at the bottom. By the time I got there they had begun climbing a secondary trail up the other side to the 2nd / 3rd highest peaks in north Africa. Their guide stayed back having hurt his ankle. In fact he sent the group cook as guide in his stead.
I had some lunch too. Then, with plenty of time, followed. Weather looked good.
The scramble to one Ouanoukrim summit — Ras Ouanoukrim (4083m) — in a hail storm turned out to be the highlight of the entire circuit. We had a blast.
Once safely down, the others headed off briskly (as they always did) to rejoin their group. One of the men, Dorfi, had once led a 3 week horse trek across Iceland. This weather was nothing to him. He wore a wool sweater under a waterproof poncho on that trip. Never got wet.
In no rush I walked slowly downhill to Toubkal Refuge (3207m).
I’d plan to wild camp again … until I saw the massive complex. It looked intriguing.
As it was raining too I decided to camp at Refuge Mouflon and sign up for the 7pm dinner. It was pretty good.
I charged my batteries in Mouflon after dinner and watched an episode of Better Call Saul on my phone as I waited. Then headed out into the rain to my tent.
I was born in Calgary, Alberta close to Banff. If you asked me to recommend the best day hike out of the city it would be Ptarmigan Cirque.
Hike Bike Travel:
It’s a 3.6 kilometre loop (if you include the interpretive trail) with 210 metres of elevation gain. There is the option to hike a section of the scramblers trail that heads for Mt. Rae.
For a short hike it delivers a tremendous variety of scenery – including coniferous forests, high alpine meadows, mountains and waterfalls. It’s the perfect hike to take your out of town guests who want a taste of the mountains without spending a full day in them – and it’s a great one for families too. …
… The route is long, rough and remote — the trailhead from Escalante, Utah takes 2 to 3 hours to get to during periods of good weather — and you still have to navigate 8-9 miles off-trail through fully-exposed sand and sage brush, across slickrock, and up and down rutted desert ravines.
Don’t be fooled by the name either. This long, exposed hike is not really through a canyon …
Distance: 16-18 miles out-and-back (26-29 km)
Days Needed: 2 days
Peak Elevation: 4,466 ft.
Elevation Gain/Loss: 1,234 ft.
Best Travel Time: Late March to May and September to October