From the taiga surrounded
Mongolei/ Lonesome dog camp
Followed by a young dog without an owner we leave as usual the camp only at midday. “Each of you should take a packhorse. To lead two the way becomes too narrow”, recommends Bilgee on which I give Sharga to Tanja and must pull now only Bor. “Now, after Mogi can walk around like he wants, I have been glad about it to be able to ride sometimes without rope in the hand not having to lead any animal. Humph, wrong thought”, believes Tanja and takes Sharga from me. Already after few hundred meters we ride in the thick, dark larch forest. The narrow path leads steep upwards. Rocks more and more often stick out from the forest ground, and are scattered around like a giant would have thrown dice with them. We ride around the trees and must pay attention not to wrap the leadership rope of the packhorses around the trees. From the corner of the eye I suddenly perceive a movement. I turn my head to the left, there where I believed a movement to have seen. There is nothing to be recognized. Only a few meters farther we hear a call through the bushes. Unbelievingly we stare at an armed man. He sits on his horse and observes us. “Obviously a hunter”, I say to Tanja. Bilgee begins a conversation with the stranger. Again it goes therefore where we come from and where we go to. Above all, however, in which direction we have to go and whether we are here on the right path. “Even here, in the middle of the thick mountain forest, we meet a person. To believe hardly if one thinks as gigantic this country is and how few people live here”, I speak surprised to Tanja. It goes on. The path becomes more and more steep. We can only remain on the horse back while we bend up to the horse neck forwards. Therefore we balance like acrobats the steep slope upwards. The rays of the sun wink sporadically by the branches over our heads and throw harsh light spots on the forest ground. Reaching the taiga we experience a drastic change of the scenery. The dog which follows us since the last camp runs in proper distance behind or before the horses. Mogi has accepted her as a friend and often plays with her. “Maybe we should take her up in our team?” I consider during a short break. “To bring two dogs by the winter is absolutely not easy. It is already a challenge to satisfy Mogi”, Tanja points out. “Maybe you are right. Better we give her no food. Then she will return, perhaps, again there from where she has come from”, I hope. At about 1,800-metre height the forest gets a bit thinner. Azure sky arches over our heads. The steep of the mountain becomes a little lower. Now the deep blue of the lake also gleams upwards to us again. The view is wonderful. Without difficulties we can look to the eastern side of the Khuvgul which is with his 383.3 cubic kilometers the biggest freshwater reservoir of Mongolia.
Only briefly we have a free look. Soon we are swallowed again from the forest. In his shade we have the feeling as we would put our heads in a deep freeze. Also I have cold feet. Maybe three pair of socks too much for the shoe and the foot cannot breathe? Because of the huge sweat river in our winter shoes and because the sweat freezes inside the boots and cools the foot, we wear today our riding shoes again. In this matter we must urgently occur to ourselves something. If the temperatures further drop we are in danger to get frostbite on the toes.
The way becomes virtually terrifying dangerous. Slippery roots hide under the needle cover, stones and rocks spread between the trunks. The way stretches uphill and downhill. Over and over again barriers lie before us cleared trunks, lichens, undergrowth and what a wild forest else has to offer. This must be a sort of footpath for tourists in summer. We see green marks in the trunks and rocks. This is generally the reason why we can ride trough the forest. Without path there would be no coming through in this confusion of branches, wood and thicket. As Sar from time to time starts to slide sweat appears on my forehead If he fell we would be in big trouble. The luggage scrapes continually past the coarse bark of the trunks. We put a lot of efforts to protect our equipment thereby while we try to lead our packhorses in a curve around the obstacles. Nothing helps. At the moment the chance hardly does exist not on bumping against or on scraping along something. Sometimes the path leads directly to the lake. Only that the lake lies among us about 50 meters. If the path broke only a little or a horse makes a small lapse, it would fall with the rider in the depth and smash on the rock. I quietly pray for our safety. We brought already many risky kilometers behind us on this trip. At the moment we think this part of the journey is the most dangerous one up to now. It is above all not foreseeable for how many kilometer we still must follow this taiga way. Maybe one hour? One day? Or even the whole 100 kilometers till we leave again in the direction of east to Khuvsgul?
“What do you actually have worried thoughts?”, I ask myself, to tell the truth I am nervous. Too nervously here could happen something to us. It would be a fatal situation in the middle of the wilderness. But thus is normal during an expedition. There is no net and double ground. The only what can give security to us is confidence and assurance. To get rid of negative thoughts and the upcoming fear, I try to refresh myself in seeing the beauty and individualism of the forest surrounding us. “What fantastic ride”, shouts Tanja behind me. “Yes really fantastically”, I answer and ask myself where from she this calmness takes.
Early in the evening the taiga dismisses us from her embrace. Suddenly we are on a dusty path. On the left and the right side are ger camps established.
We are surprised about the strong tourist infrastructure in this remote area. It looks like as hundreds of vacationers from all over the world find accommodation here.
In the meanwhile three or four other dogs follow us beside the young dog. Their owners have probably moved in warmer fields. Apparently they see in us a chance to survive the next winter. The dogs, one nicer than the other, have formed a gang. Now in the herd they hunt big yaks. Thank God there are no sheep and goats. “If this goes on like that we can open a zoo!”, says Tanja laughing.
With big strain we hold our horses on trot speed. Soon desperately we search a suitable place for our evening camp. Also here there is no juicy pasture for our horses. The strong wind which blows from the east shore about the water makes it also difficult.
Off the lake, on an embankment situated near the forest we find a camp for the night. There is only a little low grass to eat. But this is better than nothing at all. The challenge is to keep our horses in good shape even with the strains. Bilgee makes furthermore a fantastically good job. As soon as the tents stand he brings the horses to the lake shore. There they can satisfy their thirst. Then he places them around our tent so we can see them during the night shift with a look from the tent entrance. Tanja gets water which only minutes later freezes in the water bags. Mostly we do not get open any more the rotary fasteners already after a few minutes. They are frozen. The work becomes more instead of less. Every day this trip brings new problems we must solve together. I tie up Mogi between Bilgees and our tent. Thus he can not do any nonsense and pay attention at the same time to the equipment which we do not get in the tents. The young dog and her new clan are still in camp nearness. They do not dare to beg, however, they lie approx. 30 meter away from the tents and stare incessantly over to us. I feel pity for them. Above all with the black dog and would like to give her with pleasure some food. But Mogi already prepares us because of his hunting instinct enough difficulties. A second dog makes the situation not better.
The live reporting is supported by the companies:
MAGE SOLAR: www.magesolar.de
Gesat GmbH: www.gesat.com
Satellite Phone Explorer 300 and the Durabook of the company Gesat are the supporting columns of the transference from the steppe.