JUNE 15, 2009: MONDAY


Steppe: a climate region characterized as a grassland plain without trees. Just enough moisture to keep the region from being classified as a desert, but too little moisture for trees to grow. Some areas of the Mongolian steppe have pine trees and those areas as characterized as "forest steppe"; moisture is still relatively scarce but the temperatures tend to be cooler and altitude higher. Mongolia is famous for having a large continental 'steppe' region. A similar region exists in North America and stretches from Canada through Montana and Wyoming (and further south). We refer to this area as "The Great Plains". This steppe is strikingly similar to the Mongolian Steppe.

Much of my journal is writings and notes about the projects we were studying. I will include some of this information if it seems interesting or fitting (or if I can read my handwriting). I will include these notes in a different font and letter size:

From the mountain above the Pallas Cat Research site. The
white gers stand out against the short grass prairie (steppe).

Journal Notes:
We've been asked to spread out across the landscape and ponder this place. So, because my ADD is (sometimes) uncontrollable, I chose to climb to the top of the nearest mountain to ponder. I ran into one problem. We had an hour to collect our thoughts, jot them down, then regroup for discussion. Because I spent so much time climbing, I only had 5 minutes to ponder...oops...but, here is what I came up with:
I wonder:
-How this place will look in 10,000 years?
-How much fauna (plant-life) is underfoot?
-What plants are grazers targeting?
(I know what you are thinking, "What kind of questions are these?". Well, that is what happens when you have trouble focusing and spend your time hiking...

Here I sit again, in the comfort of the ger, having filled our bellies with another fantastic Mongolian dinner.

We have had another incredible day on the Mongolian Steppe. We started with breakfast, and headed off for inquiry in the Russian Vans. We spent the morning climbing around fighting the wind, and reflecting on our surroundings. I need to do this more at home; slow down and just appreciate the little things in nature like the ants crawling across the ground, the smell of edible plants...things like that.

We grouped up to study one question about the 'steppe' we would like to answer. We chose to
compare the density of sage plants (an incredibly fragrant plant that blankets the overgrazed areas of the landscape) as elevation increases. Our findings are basically inconclusive, but the point was the process and we had fun!

When we'd finished, we climbed the mountain overlooking camp with our Mongolian guides and they took us to a few ancient petroglyths etched on rocks. There were Ibex and Tahki. What a cool thing to see!

The Mongolia Earth Expeditions team with ancient petroglyths.
Notice the etchings of Red Deer, Ibex, and Tahki

We had dinner and speakers and then bed.


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1 comment:

  1. Craig, these entries are amazing and make all of mine look like one giant ghetto haiku! I have been unable to really reflect on the whole experience after coming home, so it really took me back! I love the way you described the family ger! Brillant!