We have survived our mountain hike. We awoke early in the morning at 4:30am and were out of the Gir by 5am. Robin and Derek (pretending to be asleep) were apparently tickled pink with out preparation (“should we take the Gore Tex?”, “how about gloves?”). Sleep would have been great except for a minor ruckus caused by Scott. At 2am he yelled out he needed a flashlight which I thought Derek provided. He later admitted that he had been talking in his sleep and had had a dream that someone was in our Gir stealing our money. Sigh.
The three of us joined up with Kamba, our guide, and set of in silvery moonlight. Kamba was very fast and soon, within a couple of hours we had broken out of the treeline and were well above the lake and its cloudy covering. The climb was much harder than anyone of us had anticipated. We had pointed to a mountain behind us and said we wanted to climb it. Instead we ended up climbing the tallest mountain in the region at 2972m – Mt. Ikh. Several false summits later we were congratulating each other on our first Mongolian summit. Mieko was only slightly slower than Scott and I and proved how amazingly fit she was at her age.
The descent was not as pleasant as the ascent. But then, few descents usually are. We went through dense taiga forest with few marked routes. This made for a tiring and long descent. We still, however, managed to ascend in five hours and descend in four hours. Not bad for a 1200m altitude gain.
On arrival back at the Gir camp, we immediately had a beer, paid and tipped our excellent guide and Scott and I went for a swim in the extremely cold lake. I stayed in for about four minutes and Scott simply jumped in and out. The water is very cold, but no colder than Three Pond Barrens in St. John’s NF in Spring. I think I will go for a swim tomorrow as well.
So what happened to the others? Derek tried to recover from his cold, and Danielle finally got the rest and sleep she had been craving (she was often disturbed by Mieko’s habit of rising early). Most of the others had gone horse-back riding. Interestingly the best stories were Robin and Lori who had gone riding with Jargalan and Sarah. Robin and Jargalan had never ridden horses before. As it tunred out, Jargalan was a natural (must be the Mongolian blood), while Robin is currently lying on the bed claiming his balls have been destroyed. Lori is convinced Robin won’t be having sex for a long while. Lori, meanwhile, had also had a tough time. She was so exhausted at the end that three people had to help get her off the horse.