JUNE 19, 2009: FRIDAY


Awoke their morning very well rested. The heat from the fire fire and the trickle of rain put me out like a baby. I missed shower time (water shortages only allow showers during certain times) last night so I was hoping to get my shower when they opened again in the morning; After-all it has been quite a few days since the last one. As luck would have it, the mens shower started on fire in the middle of the night. Apparently someone has used a candle to shower at night (because the storm knocked out the power) and it tipped over. So...once again...no shower for me...

Moilt Camp, in Hustai Nuruu National Park
Our headquarters for studying the Tahki Horse

After breakfast we headed out in the Shermans for Moilt Camp in Hustai Nuruu National Park (HNNP). Nuruu means mountain range. We saw several Tahki along the way and as we lumbered along, the landscape slowly transformed from pointed short-grass hills to jagged scree covered mountains. Because this park is protected, the grass is long and green and it makes a beautiful contrast with the weathered, rounded rock outcroppings.

After settling in at camp and going for a hike up the mountainside, Bayaraa (Muntsog's son) and I left the group in a saddle between two ridges above Moilt Camp and set out to find a heard of Red Deer we had seen across the canyon. Dinner would be happening soon but I did not care if I ate. I had flown all the way to Mongolia hoping to see Red Deer (similar to our Elk, also called "stag" in parts of Europe). I have a "thing" for Red Deer. They remind me of the most regal animal of Montana: the Elk. Only the Red Deer is exotic and new and I have always wanted to hunt them...and...there I was, atop a mountain at 5,700ft, in Mongolia, racing across a mountain ridge to hunt Red Deer with no gun. I am slowly finding that I don't have to carry a gun to enjoy a hunt. The spot, the stalk, the thrill is all included, only no dragging out meat in the end!

As we scurried across boulders and through the high mountain grass, several Red Deer erupted form the Birch trees in front of us. We stopped, they stopped, and as we watched, the females rounded up two small calves and we all stood and watched each other for a while, waiting for somebody to make the first move.

After our encounter we headed farther up the ridge toward the top of the mountain and spotted the original herd in a saddle at the top of the valley. I could have sat there with my binoculars for the rest of the day and watched the head of 10 eat and browse. There were 4 bulls. Two of them were massive, their pitch black antlers stretched high above their sturdy necks and they looked so powerful, and peaceful, and quiet. And I felt the same.

My heart and mind were still replaying the experience even 4 hours later when I penciled out my journal for the night. This place, these animals, these events are etching themselves very deeply in my soul and I hope they etch deeply enough that they last in there forever.


Note: I thought I was going to finally get a shower at Moilt Camp. It is an outdoor "shower" with a water holding tank up on stilts and glass tubes that run through the tank. In theory, the sun warms up the glass tubes and the heat is transferred to the water above. Then, you turn on the shower head and warm, soothing, mountain water pours over your head. However, when I tried the shower, the water was soooo cold that I managed only managed to get my head wet before I ran out screaming bloody murder...still...no...shower.

баяртай, сайн сууж байгаарай

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