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The Tale of Toubkal

Its 4am. The stars are out. There's no light in the Refuge, and everyone's started to bustle can only mean one thing. Nope, not hammer's summit time.

This is it, I think to myself, whilst taking a glance in the mirror...I'm actually doing this.

It was a weird, almost third person moment, catching a look at myself padded out in layers; woolly hat, head torch, and walking poles - I kinda felt pretty badass, like an actual mountain climber or something.

Anyway; I'll go back to it being everyone's lacing up and getting ready, we only have about 30 minutes before breakfast so no time for messing about, but also, no one wants to be messing about at, it's not your average morning, where maybe you lose a sock or something. Apparently not one for photography either...

So we make our way down for breakfast, which was like the most salty porridge type dish you can imagine, like, even for me and Dave...seasoned salt eaters (see what I did there) was too much - but the bread was good! They also served us oranges, I packed mine for later...and after a mint tea; Mohammed gave us the low-down of how things would go that morning, and we set off.

It was of course freezing cold; but it didn't take long for us to strip off a layer as the incline was steep from the start; luckily under the night sky I had no episodes of vertigo, which was awesome, because usually I'm terrible as soon as I feel any level of exposure. We had been climbing for around an hour and a half, when Mohammed let us have a breather, but also so he could pray. This was an incredible rest break, as we all sat quietly, switched off the head torches, and gazed up at the stars. If I wasn't so cold and out of breath it would have been even more enjoyable I guess.

As we continued up the valley to the Toubkal ridge; we could see the sun begin to rise, turning the peaks behind us a dim glowing red; at this stage however I'm not enjoying the views, as I was suffering pretty badly with altitude sickness; coming up the valley I struggled to keep my breath, and on a couple of occasions had to really go-in on myself to control my breathing to stop from passing this point...I pretty much hated hiking and for the first time ever, I even considered never hiking again, I gave some real serious thought to just quitting the whole thing...I was over it.