Over the past few months I have had several opportunities to drive a little ways past Lake Takerkoust up to a plateau which has a gorgeous view of the snow covered Atlas Mountains. This Plateau is about 60 km from Marrakech and is an awesome remote place to run or hike.
For a while I had really been wanting to get out and run some trails. I loved trail running when I was in the America. This past winter I spent most of my runs for the month I was there running in the woods near my family's home. So, when a friend called me up and offered to show me some nearby trails I said let's go! Thursday, with our schedules finally clear, we headed out of town.
About 35 miles outside of Marrakech we reached Lake Takerkoust and took a left toward the mountains. Around 15 km later we began to drive up a bunch of switchbacks. At the top of the climb we finally reached the top of the Plateau du Kik (I think this is its name). After driving a little bit more we reached a little village went onto some dirt roads and finally found a place to park.
This is where the hour and half of driving became worth it. We headed down to this cliff edge and ran along it for a little bit. While I have some experience running in mountains, cliffs are a new thing for me so needless to be said I was a little nervous but the view quickly took my thoughts away from my fears. From these cliffs you can see, down back in the direction of Marrakech, the lake and miles and miles of awesomeness.
After running the cliffs for a while we reached another small village. When I say small village I mean small and rural. I saw several old-school wells, the kind with a rope and bucket, being used to give water to animals. Once through this village we met an old shepherd who called us over and seemed like he just wanted to talk. He talked about several things and we began to think he wanted to walk with us for a while. Thankfully after about five minutes we were able to talk our way out of his conversation and get back to running.
From here we doubled back toward the car via a dirt road and then decided to head up some kind of ravine. About fifty yards in I began to hear scurrying among the brush at our feet and knowing that in this area there are some snakes we scampered out onto the rim of the ravine. Finally after about fifteen more minutes of running we reached what was likely the second highest hill in the area and we were rewarded with the most spectacular views of the mountains.
In total we ran for a little over an hour and covered quite a bit of ground, I forgot my Garmin so I do not know exactly how far we went. What surprised me was the altitude. I guess because when you drive out there the increase in elevation is so gradual that you do not really notice it but after doing some hard running I was deffinantly working to catch my breath.
I enjoyed the area so much I decided to go back that weekend and bring my wife and son with me. This meant no running but I enjoy being with family more anyways. So, I borrowed a child hiking carrier and off we went. A word of advice here: if it has rained recently do not try and drive a small car on wet muddy roads at an incline. It is just a bad idea. After we slowly drove our way back the paved roads we parked in front of a small school in one of the villages.
We, went back along the cliffs and enjoyed our time together. We were expecting sun and heat, but once we were out hiking we began to see clouds threatening rain for the rest of our hike. We even had one young shepherd offer us to use his jacket and return it on our return hike.
The people up there are very hospitable. Of the fifteen or so people we came upon while hiking every one, after kissing my son, asked up to go with them to their house and drink tea or eat something with them. These people have nothing, many of their houses are made of the surrounding stone and they were kind enough to offer what they had to strangers.
On our way to the car, school had let out (some schools here have class on Saturday mornings) so there were lots of kids just hanging out. I guess there isn't much for the kids to do in the mountains, but when they saw us coming they mobbed us. They all wanted to talk to us and play with our son. We felt a little bad because we had no candy to give them and our son is still too small to play with them.
The Plateau du Kik near Lake Takerkoust is definitely a spot I will be running again soon and hope to take some of my friends. Running on the plateau was so strange. Not because I did not enjoy myself but because it felt like I was not in Africa. Green farmland one way and snowy mountains the other, that's not what most people think of when they think of Morocco. Well, this has been one of my longer posts so I will end here and remind you as always to leave you comments in the section below. Now, go for a run.
Below are a few additional pictures I took on one of my trips out there... enjoy.