Rain, Mud then Sun in Mongolia – 19 – 21 Aug
It rained most of the night and continued to do so throughout the morning.
We made suggestions about erecting a kitchen tarp that fell on deaf ears.
We asked about the the trail conditions further along our proposed route. More mud, and even more difficult, we were told.
We asked what the purpose was in moving on through more mud in the pouring rain. It seemed ludicrous to us. Our guide – Ester – dropped the ball on the decision making process. So we conferred with our horseman/cook. He conferred with the others and it was decided we would stay put.
Helen, Pat and I stood in the rain to eat bread and meat and drink a hasty coffee for breakfast then went back into the tent to puzzle over why we were in this particular soggy location. In the end we discovered that the tour organizer had decided to change the itinerary at the last moment without bothering to consult us. As of this writing, we have yet to understand but feel he too dropped the ball.
The rain stopped around lunch time so we emerged the tent. The guys thought we were like Marmots only coming out of their dens on sunny days. They’d also thought we looked like penguins in an igloo while we’d been sitting in the tent looking out at the world. We told them we found watching their antics about camp better than most TV. It was all good for a laugh. They were incredibly happy to not to have had to pack up a sodden camp and move on so we celebrated the reasonably warm dry afternoon with some excellent vodka.
Every meal in Mongolia seems to involve meat. Sheep is the meat of choice. Mongolian cooking also seems to incorporate a lot of fat. There appears to be no such thing as a lean cut of meat. Fat is king and most chunks of meat seem to be half fat and gristle.
We ate our meals by the fire and flipped as many un-chewable gristle and fat bits into the flames as possible without appearing rude. Portions were generous and there was lots of noodles and rice to fill our bellies.
The next day was dry, though cool and cloudy with a significant promise of rain. It was my 65th birthday. Looking around the forested site, I wondered how my vision of what this ride was going to be could have been so wrong. Not a vista to be seen.
It was decided we would go for a ride in the afternoon but return to the same camp. It seemed like a sensible plan. The main question for the three of us continued to be – why were we on this boggy trail when there is so much glorious dry high grassland nearby.
Our afternoon ride was mostly dry from the sky – with only one fierce wind blown deluge to make it exciting. Much of the trail was through more muskeg. We crossed a stream. The horses don’t mind the deep water when they can see where they’re putting their feet but they seem to detest the deep mud.
Pat had put her foot down and refused to ride the beast she had the first day. She was now on a pleasant horse we named Blackie. Mongolians don’t give their horses names. They seemed to think it weird that we thought horses might have them. Helen had called her’s Felt. Mine went through a few names before I decided on Muffin. Muffin was a bit timid and very sweet. He hated getting his feet muddy and frankly I didn’t blame him. Despite his desire to not wade through mud, he was biddable and stepped gingerly through the muck.
The next day dawned sunny and warm. Our tent was soon steaming and we packed up a nearly dry camp. The pack horses were much less burdened as we’d consumed a lot of food and most of the water.
Our return ride was still muddy but in the sun it was more pleasant. Muffin and I managed a short canter which we both enjoyed. We all negotiated the enormous mud pit with no calamity and were a bit disappointed to arrive back at the van in just over three hours.
Despite not being as advertised or expected, the ride was a memorable adventure. It transpired that our option might have been some boring rides in and out of a camp out on a flat plain. We remain mystified about why rides don’t seem to happen in the beautiful rolling grasslands. We saw no one riding in thse areas.
Next blog will be …. stops on the tourist trail of must see sights.