DAY SEVENTY-SEVEN Most the morning was taken up with showering (again!) and doing some washing.
At 10:30 we walked up to the Hotel Taghat for fruit juices and coffee then walked back to the camp to await the arrival of the vehicles that we were taking up to Assakrem, in the Hoggar Mountains.
They arrived, as arranged, at 1:00 and we all hopped on board along with an old Irish lady called Ena who had pestered us into taking her up. The two vehicles were both Toyota station-wagons, one old and one fairly new.
We set off up into the high plateau at the base of the mountains and it was like crossing the moon! Stark, barren, rock-strewn plains dotted with huge and rugged mesas across which we travelled on a road which was amazingly rough at times. After an hour or so, the old Toyota died from lack of proper maintenance, the fuel pump buggered., so we flagged down another passing vehicle and they took Russ & Jo while the other two came with us.
As we travelled higher up into the hills the gullies narrowed around us until we were hemmed into narrow chasms between the sheer faces and precipices of the volcanic plugs¹ that make up most of the Hoggars.
The air cooled as we rose and by the time we reached the stone buildings at the top of the road it was a chilly 3 or 4 degrees.
We hurried up the steep zig-zag track to Charles Foucauld’s Hermitage at the summit where we watched the unspectacular sunset.
Back down at the huts we arranged our sleeping bags on foam mattresses and after a much-needed meal of soup, rice & vegetable stew washed down with a wee drop of whiskey that I had, we all went to bed.
¹A volcanic plug is the solidified remains of the interior of a volcano. As a volcano ceases to erupt, the magma-filled tube from which the volcano ejected its lava, solidifies into a plug. The surrounding cone is often made of lighter, more easily-eroded lava and when this is eroded away, the central plug is left behind.