Once again I climbed up until finally the road levelled towards the Tizi-n-Tirhist pass (2629 m). I met, for the first time on this trip, other touring cyclists; a Belgian couple. They had explored the area some ten years previously and were spending a few weeks touring the valleys.
Reaching snow is always good fun. Despite the high ambient temperature ice remained packed into the banks as I climbed up and towards the junction and road that leads North to Ait Mohammed. I packed my bottles with ice and enjoyed the rare opportunity to drink deliciously cold water. The views once again were spectacular. Towards the North high hills rolled into the distance. Making and enjoying fresh coffee at altitude with a fantastic view is one of the things that I really enjoy when cycle touring.
Where the wind swept around the pass the ground is relatively barren and snow clings to the hills. Once I had crossed the Pass the road slowly dropped to reach a small settlement. It then turned into donkey work with another sweaty climb with the sun high in the sky.
I truly felt as if I was back in Ladakh. The landscape became dry, rugged and barren. The views are superb. Finally the road began, once again, to drop. For half an hour I cruised down through endless loops towards the town of Zaouia-Ahanesal with its fast flowing river and green fields. I picked my way along a small path by the river until I reached a Gite directly next to a tall keep and grain store which stands proudly above the settlement. I had couscous for dinner at the Gite; a first for me in Morocco. The plate was piled embarrassingly high and it was far more than I could manage. But somehow I tucked away a fair bit…
The road North East from Zaouia-Ahanesal follows the river closely. All around huge monolithic rock formations rise up like walls and provide what must be a paradise for trekkers and climbers.
The track is fairly rough and really only suitable for 4×4 vehicles. That morning I had my first and only nasty scrape of the ride. My front tyre bounced off a rock and I lost the steering amongst the scree. In falling off the bike I landed on the right hand and neatly removed a good patch of skin off my palm. As for motorcycling it is best to have some kind of protective layer (jeans are good for lower limbs) and foolishly I had set off without wearing my wooly gloves. I had to put them on after this to stop the blood messing up the handlebars and getting sore. Better me than damaging the bike tho. I self repair okay.
The road closely followed every bend in the river and then began to climb and wind around the mountains. I was heading towards the clouds and loving every moment..