12 July 2006

MONGOLIA day-20 July12th 2006 Tariat


85.90km near Tariat 2092 metres.
Our morning climb to the mountain pass at Oroohyn (2345 metres) was undertaken on peanuts and biscuits, as the Whisperlite cooker failed to function. Although able to cook food at altitude; unlike the Trangia it is more complicated, with fine jets needing regular cleaning and it works less effectively if the fuel is down to 20%; frequent hand pumping is then required. In the cold but misty morning I was quite depressed, hungry and in my wet socks, as I corkscrewed my way higher up the dirt tracks. The early stages of a rupturing rear tyre made for a despondent day. Even the curious children of Tariat and the adults hovering and prying, very much annoyed me. I only had time for an elderly man in a cotton coat with a saffron waist tie, whose interaction was quite spiritual - he smiled, shook my hand with both of his and bowed.
I felt connected to him but also unfulfilled from the lack of common language. This was the only good thing of my day. Our sleep had been in a pine forest near a flowing stream and was very bitter (perhaps 3 degrees) with my night haunted by the sounds of a wolf making threatening growls. In my half sleep I imagined that it had caught its prey and was tearing it apart. My biggest fear was
that we were in its territory. The sounds that it made were strange and almost un-natural. With a foggy head I down hilled to Lake Terhiyn Tsaggan, along a rocky track only to tumble hard and slide along the ground. Nearer the vast lake the tracks were sandy and I fell gently but frequently. A late lunch at Tariat of khuushuur; a fried meat pancake; lifted my mood immediately, confirming that our ride had been done in starvation mode. Tonight we are camped in a broad green valley amongst volcanic outcrops, with expansive views, the sun shining and my hanging socks drying. Now that we have stopped I feel very much at peace.

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