By Scott Willoughby
Warren Miller's Snow World
Special to CNN.com
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Part 3: Atlantic coast
Perhaps the ultimate allure of Morocco is that it never lets you forget where you are. The country is a crossroads, a place where East meets West and Africa shakes hands with Europe across the narrow Strait of Gibraltar. The country's geographic diversity contributes to its distinctive culture, but nowhere is this eclecticism more obvious than on the vast Atlantic coast.
The team's trip to Morocco concluded at the coastal town of Essaouira, the scenic spot overlooking the Atlantic that inspired the Jimi Hendrix classic "Castles Made of Sand." Just as mountain snows melt into rivers that eventually make their way to the sea, this surfers' paradise would be a fitting finale to a 12-day smorgasbord of adventure.
"There was just something triumphant about being there," Patterson says. "Not only going from the high-Alpine elevation down to sea level, but the whole atmosphere and landscape surrounding it. We had been going nonstop the whole time, and there was something rewarding about this being the conclusion of our trip."
Once more the rewards were as much visual as physical, with beachcombing camels greeting the team as they took their kayaks into the ocean froth for a wave-surfing session that lasted from sunrise to sunset. Five- to 7-foot waves tailor-made for contemporary kayaks kept the crew entertained as they reflected on their journey.
"It was really cool to see everyone in their element and to be in their element with them," Dolenc says. "Cruising around the glaciers in crampons, we got to see how good Christian is at what he does. When we were skiing, Sarah and I got to demonstrate what we do. And the paddling was all about Brad.
"It was cool to see everyone in their comfortable place and also at a place where they were pushed a little more than they might normally be. But I think the beach was the place we all enjoyed the most."
For Dolenc, Ludden, Clemenson, Santelices and the others, the push came not only as athletes, but as individuals who had to overcome cultural differences during a particularly stressful time. Part of the credit belongs to them, but, as each is quick to point out, the Moroccan people played an even greater role.
Morocco has a timeless quality that is difficult to find in the modern world, a daily sense that the past lives on, weaving in and out of the present in a thread of endless surprise and wonder. In such a place, overcoming fears can be as simple as looking around and allowing life to happen. For the Warren Miller crew, the inevitable result was a charmed and charming adventure.
Copyright 2004 Warren Miller's Snow World. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.