05-Jan-2007 -- This shall serve as my preliminary report of the successful confluence visit of 29N 9W, completed on 5 January 2007. For further prior information refer to previous unsuccessful incomplete attempt of this confluence point of Gerhard Kaufmann et al. on 21 February 2004.
This visit was completed by Caleb Rogers and Mark Kaplan. Our first goal was to get to Foum al-Ḥiṣn (aka Fum al-Hissan). We were staying in the town of Tiznit. The major religious observance of `Īdu l-Aḍḥā began on 31 December 2006, so much of our preparation was influenced by this fact. No public transport and no rental cars required me to hitchhike to the large city of Agadir to negotiate the only rental car I could find; a small two-wheel drive vehicle of dubious quality and bald retreaded tires. Nonetheless, it got us to our destination of Foum al-Ḥiṣn; a tiny one-Mosque town whose only claim to fame seems to be that it is the place where the paved road ends. We had hoped to buy fresh provisions in this town but alas, market day is only one time a week and this didn't happen to be the day. We did have a decent collection of tinned foods and dried fruits and nuts. Water was my prime concern and I had a couple of types of water purification tablets and drops. Initially, we tried to cognitize and see just how close to the C.P. we could get in our car. We started off down the rocky road which turned into a path that proceeded up a large wādiy (dry river bed) and the rocks became the size of soccer balls. We had gone around 2 miles (3 km) and were still over 5.5 miles (9 km) to the C.P., so after a couple hours of moving rocks on the path we were forced to give up and return back to town.
We left the car at the local Gendarmerie (police station), put our gear on our backs, and started walking. I also was carrying a large jug (5 liters) of clean drinking water in addition to one extra liter of emergency water stacked in the bottom of my backpack. On the way out of town, a local tribal guy offered to carry my water jug for the first two hours. Outside of town we all stopped in an oasis of date trees for some harmonica playing, some lunch, some rest, and hopefully to uplift our spirits. After lunch the tribal guy left and within two hours we were back to as far as we had gotten in the vehicle the first time. Undeterred, we kept on walking. The trail continued to erode further and I began to better understand why Gerhard Kaufmann was unable to reach the C.P. even though he was in a sturdy four-wheel drive vehicle. It was tough going. Our map at 1:900,000 ratio was sufficient to get us to Foum al-Ḥiṣn but was of less and less value on the trail, and of no value after the trail petered out. The land was desolate and our packs were heavy but undeterred we carried on.
We found a low sandy spot at he bottom of a dry creek bed and pitched our first campsite. We were only ¾ mile (1.2 km) to the C.P. but we were beat. It was a full moon and most beautiful. We scrounged up a small campfire not to cook by but to keep our spirits up, and for one hour of warmth it allowed us. Caleb had a sleeping bag and a tarp, I had no sleeping bag but a small tent. I was thankful for an extensive wardrobe of which I had donned every single article. I was quite cold and I shivered the whole night through. Caleb learned to play the train on the harmonica.
Our plan was at sun up I would go on to locate the C.P. while Caleb broke camp and would catch up with me after I had found it. I went on but after an hour realized that the spot was on the opposite side of a rather steep chain of hills. Our decision was whether to try to hike around the hills to the other side, or climb and do the up and over. I sat and waited to discuss our dilemma with my buddy. He was game for climbing over the hill so that's the way we did it. After some time of walking around in circles with the GPS unit, we left our packs and lightened, we roamed around until we got to the exact spot. We were elated at being the first people to successfully record this C.P. We celebrated with our last orange and a cup of water each. Further note: there is a nomadic Berber goat herding family camped in the vicinity (tent visible in one of the photos) and surely at sometime one of them must have climbed this hill and also been to this spot.
Return trip was more of the same. Water a continual concern. Pebble in the mouth I hiked onward. Upon reaching town again our tribal buddy seeked us out and had had his family prepare for us a festive meal. We were ceremoniously served the head of the sacrificial goat the had been slaughtered the week before. It was quite tasty, I even sampled some undefined parts that Caleb declined. About a half hour into the feast one of our hosts left the communal table and returned with a flask of some sort of spray perfume. With a nervous giggle and somewhat apologetically they hosed us down with multiple sprays of the perfumed liquid. Alas, we must have smelled like we had been walking in the desert for three days, because in fact, we had been.
Further note photos of wild camels we came across on our trip. The baby appears less than a week old. The value there of a full grown adult male camel is about 3,000 Euros; so that find represented quite a treasure to someone more energetic than ourselves that chose to catch it; but we were happy just to make it home.