Tom Petty nailed it…

…coming down is the hardest thing!
From Refugio Les Mouflons we climbed 869 metres TO the SUMMIT then 869 metres down to the refuge. 2,850′ feet up…2,850′ down…4km up…4km down.

Coming down is the hardest thing...
Coming down is the hardest thing.

This photo gives you an idea of the steepness….Look closely in the snowy area (top right quarter) and you’ll see a group of four descending and near the middle of the picture you’ll spot three more trekkers (still wearing crampons) on the descent. I’m on the zig-zag switchback just below this group of three.
united mice descending the trail

Look closely at the tiny specks descending ….

Our Berber guide, Hussein said, “You have twenty minutes to rest and pack your things then we’ll have 30 minutes for lunch.” After another great meal by Hamid! it was time to trek. Only 16 more km — a descent of 2,356 metres OR 4,550’— to our room at Kasbah du Toubkal, a National Geographic Unique Lodges of the World.

A few minutes rest for tired legs
A few minutes rest for tired legs

Perhaps four or five kilometres from our hotel, we stop for a farewell photo with our 15-year-old muleteer, Ayoub, at the Toubkal National Park farewell sign.Muleteer Ayoub and the TNP sign

Muleteer Ayoub and the Djebel Toubkal National Park thank us for our visit.

Four hours and sixty-million-tons-of-pea-gravel later, we arrive at the plains. We turn for one last look at the Toubkal Massif. The 4,176 meter summit is the peak second from the right—it looks shorter but that’s an illusion of distance and perspective.  Thankfully, the last two kilometres are on (mostly) flat terrain with only a short switchback down the hillside.On the last look at Toubkal

This has been a challenging trek—not too difficult but very steep: the first day UP UP UP challenged one set of muscles. and the second day, DOWN DOWN DOWN, challenged another group of muscles.
WHY? My attitude! I did NOT have a bad attitude, I had the WRONG attitude.
I found Kilimanjaro EASIER than this hike and EASIER than I expected.
BUT I found Toubkal harder because I looked at the data:
1.  only two days instead of 7 on Kili
2.  only 4176 metres instead of 5,895 metres on Kili…which led me to believe Toubkal would be LESS challenging.
In the snow, I walked a little bow-legged to avoid catching a crampon “bear-claw” on my pants and, on the rocky sections, constantly watching my feet to avoid slipping on a cluster of loose gravel or unstable rocks.
Day 1 – 16km – from kasbah to refugio
Day 2 – 4km UP to summit —4km DOWN to refugio PLUS 16km DOWN to kasbah.

My whole body cannot wait to lay flat on the floor and soak up the steamy warmth of our hammam.