On our final day in Morocco a portion of our group made the trek to Oukaimeden. As we had hoped, the drizzly Marrakesh weather was fresh powder in the mountains. Jim decided he had no desire to attempt the long trip.



Terraces We first loaded into a small van to drive up the Ourika valley toward the Atlas Mountains. It appeared to be a fertile valley with practically every reasonable inch terraced and planted. As I recall the trip took a couple of hours each way.

We made a few stops for picture-taking. It always amazed me that wherever a tourist was sighted, Moroccan children swarmed out of the woodwork offering the same coral beads and other trinkets that we saw at every other place.

Although there was no snow in the lower elevations, it was pretty icy up above.

Commercial district Most (if not all) of us rented equipment – at least the skis. The shop, which was located in this strip mall, was small and dark with a limited selection of out-dated equipment. Never mind, those boards would slide on the snow and that's all that was required.

This appeared to be the extent of the commercial district. There were quite a few houses that seemed to be privately owned, but not much in the way of hotels.


The "base lodge" was rather basic: rocky outcroppings in the snow.

Ticket window On the other hand, there weren't any crowds at the ticket window.

There were two main "areas." The closer one (although it clearly wasn't too close) consisted of two Poma lifts and three short slopes. The farther one was served by a double-chair that disappeared over the ridge.

Detachable quadruped To navigate between the areas, we could either practice our skating skills along the road or we could hire a "detachable quadruped" to speed up the process. Tom and I have elected to do this. Who could imagine that we would find a Moroccan "lift operator" wearing a Redskins jacket?!
Sharon After taking a few warm-up runs on the Pomas, we proceeded via slow-speed donkey to the chair lift. It was very long and about as slow as the donkey, but it took us to the top of the world.

Sharon is ready to hit the slopes.

View from the top

In Greek myth, Atlas held the heavens on his shoulders. He was later turned into stone: the mountains that bear his name.

On a clear day, you can see ... the Atlantic! This was the view from the top of the chair. I don't know if you really could see as far as the ocean, but it certainly felt like it.
Oukameden As we ski down, we can eventually see the base area – such as it is.
Resting Tom taking a rest about half-way down.

Since we were feeling our way down and taking pictures at every opportunity, we didn't feel that we had enough time for a second run. Almost everyone only made the one run. Gordon, on the other hand, did take at least one other. We don't know what trail(s) he came down because none of us saw him.

End of the day It's the end of the day; it's getting dark; fog is rolling in; the road is icy; the parking lot is almost empty; and no-one knows where Gordon is. We were beginning to wonder where he was, if he was injured ... or lost ... or .... And we were beginning to think of leaving without him!

Eventually he showed up.

Our day in the Atlas was a fitting end to a fabulous "see and ski" trip. Many thanks to the McKinleys for doing the heavy lifting of putting it together.

Wisp I always like to end my travelogues with a photo from home to emphasize that the real reason for travel is to appreciate what you have every day. Here's a picture from Wisp, in western Maryland. We had spent a weekend there with our PVS friends warming up for our exotic vacation. It certainly has more amenities than Oukaimeden and is a heck of a lot closer. Not quite the vertical, however!