Molly’s Trip to the Gobi #2
Me in Ice Valley (Yolyn Am)
Hello friends, I’m back in UB for awhile. I have to figure out my Russian Visa situation, so I’ve got to buckle down and plan out my Trans-Siberian trip. I’ll be doing that this weekend. Other than that, all has been going very well. The last thing I told you guys was my first few days of my Gobi trip. I guess I should finish that up.
So, after our stay at the ger camps, we made it to our first town called Dalanzadgad. We got gas, ate lunch, and played with some kids. Mostly, we purchased some more treats for the long rides and then we were off again. We were on our way to Ice Valley. I recall the Mongolian name is Yolyn Am, which means Vultures Mouth.
The drive to Ice Valley was something else. We could see the mountains in the distance while we were on route. When we got closer, we entered a canyon and were on the bumpiest roads I’d ever been on. I felt like I was in a cartoon because we were bouncing all over in the van. Arms and legs were flailing left and right. I couldn’t stop laughing!
When we reached the trail head, we all got out and found ourselves surrounded by hills and mountains. Khulaan told us to follow her and like good children we did. It felt good to stretch out my legs after 3 days of long car rides. At first we were in a valley of grass and walked along a dirt road, I spent most of the time with my head cranked upwards. The mountains were beautiful and the rock faces made me want to go rock climbing again! Khulaan lead us to a stream that had a trail and this trail lead us deeper into the canyon. By this time, I separated myself from the boys and Khulaan and was able to appreciate all the sounds. The stream was calming and the wind was whistling. The stream got smaller and smaller, until it was completely covered in ice. I learned quickly why this place is called Ice Valley.
Khulaan stayed behind while the boys and I went deeper into the valley. It was my first time walking on ice that is more than 2 meters tall (more than 6 feet thick). There were places where the ice was melting, so we could see the cool ice patterns. The combination of rock meeting ice was pretty epic. I’d never seen anything like it.
We stayed for a few hours and then we jumped into the van again and were off to the complete opposite landscape: The Sand Dunes. Before that day, I had never seen big sand dunes before (except for the dunes in Oregon). I didn’t know what to expect. All I knew about them was from Aladdin or from Road to Morocco, when Bob Hope and Bing Crosby get caught by a beautiful princess while riding a camel in the sand dunes. When we arrived it was nearing dusk and the sand dunes were a beautiful pink/yellow color. The ger owners had camels for us to ride, so we jumped onto some camels and traversed the fields towards the dunes. The colors of the sky and dunes were wonderful.
We disembarked from our camels and began our steep climb to the top of the dunes. They didn’t seem so large in the distance, but they were comparable to a small mountain/tall hill! It felt so good taking off my shoes and letting the sand sink in between my toes. The sand was still warm from the sun. The boys continued on their ascent, but I decided to sit down and enjoy the scenery from halfway up. I felt compelled to sing, so I spent 15-20 minutes watching the sunset and singing. It was wonderful. I’ll keep that memory for a long time.
The boys returned and we ran down the dunes smiling and laughing. That day was a good day. I was woken up the next morning with the boys singing, “Folly Lolly, Molly golly, dolly Bally, etc.” At first I was not amused, but it has grown on me as of late. We jumped in the van and headed to our next destination, which was Arvaikheer town. We spent a night there and headed towards our final stop: Khuisiin-Terkhiin Tsagaan Nuur National Park. This park has Mongolia’s tallest waterfall.
I’ll write about it in my next post. A girl’s gotta eat, it’s dinner time!