Tsaagan Nuur Lake & Khorgo Volcano, Mongolia

Trip Start Mar 13, 2007
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Trip End Aug 10, 2007


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Flag of Mongolia  , Arhangay,
Tuesday, June 19, 2007

We camped for two nights along the shores of beautiful Tsaagan Nuur Lake inside a national park centered around a volcanic region. Our campsite was close enough to hike to the relatively low Khorgo Volcano crater.  Surrounded by impressive lava flows and very accessible, Khorgo is actually lower than many of the peaks around it but still provided impressive views of the surrounding lakes and volcanic scenery.  While the crater itself was impressive, I personally found getting there hiking through the flows of lava rock to be the most fun.  The adventurous might try extending the Buddhist tradition of  walking clockwise three times (or 108 times, the other lucky number in Buddhism) around a mountaintop roadside shrine, tossing a rock onto the pile, and making a wish to their visit to the volcano crater, but I found one time around which I mistakenly did in a counter-clockwise direction to be plenty for me, especially since the brilliant blue morning skies had turned threatening by noon.

Although many of our campsites in Kazakhstan, Siberia, and Mongolia were in beautiful locations, bush camping isn't all fun and games.  It's actually a lot of work.  Besides putting up your tent every night you move camp and taking it down in the morning and cooking three meals with your cook group on every fifth or sixth day, everyone on a Dragoman trip also has a truck job.  Jobs range from moving the tents and sleeping gear on and off the roof to loading and unloading the back locker to running a bar on the truck to setting up tables, chairs, and gear for meals, to cleaning the truck, to name a few of the most notable.  I had always been bar man on my precious Dragoman trips, figuring that running the bar involved mostly shopping and accounting and was thus not too unpleasant.  This time, though, I decided I should diversify my truck skills and try something different.  I offered to be the tour photographer, but my idea for a new truck job didn't really fly with Ben and Charlie, so I ended up on setup crew.  Setup was a nice truck job for me since I wan't in the mood to work too hard on this tour, especially since 6 or 7 people were assigned to it, so many that we were virtually bumping into each other in a situation where often many hands made light work and too many cooks spoiled the broth simultaneously.

Camping in Siberia and Siberia and Mongolia was not also always fun and game in the sense that it was like a series of biblical plagues from the story of Moses and the Pharaoh.  At each campsite we experienced a different plague - a plague of cold, a plague of dust, a plague of heat, a plague of wind, a plague of rain, a plague of pollen, a plague of gnats, a plague of mosquitos, a plague of midges, a plague of horse flies, a plague of grasshoppers, a plague of marmot holes.  At Tsaagan Nuur Lake the plague wasone of small non-biting flies that covered our tents in a thick layer, swarmed around our heads in clouds, got into our food and drinks, and coated drying plates and utensils.  It makes me wonder how many pounds of insects I've eaten over the last few months.  Hmmm, maybe the Gods are angry at us and sent this plague because I walked around that volcano crater in the wrong direction.
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