Since we got here and saw the mountains just south of the city, I have been dying to get out to the countryside. This can be difficult without a car, and although we have one coming, it’s not here yet. Lucky for us, a few Mongolian women that work for Tom invited us to go for a hike in the very mountains I’ve been admiring.
It was beautiful. These pictures don’t really do it justice, we just had a cell phone with a very basic camera, but hopefully you can get the idea.
The trail followed a stream and there were pine trees and wildflowers the whole way up. Wild strawberry plants grow along the path and they say there will be fruit you can eat in August. And, it was only a 20 minute cab ride out of town. If you’re driving, you go into a ger camp that looks like private property, and you park in their lot. It seems strange but this is what people do.
I had the hardest time with this hike. I blame it on the altitude: Ulaanbaatar is about 4,300 ft. above sea level and it takes most people time to adjust to the thinner air. But, it is also I think the tallest climb I have done– if Map My Run is to be believed, it was a 2,000 ft. climb. That’s big for me. I was basically moving at a slow shuffle towards the final stretch, but I made it, and we had a nice little picnic at the top.
There were many other hikers, all Mongolians. We chatted with one man who was resting after having hiked at least half way up who was 70 years old!! — But, my favorite was a child who looked like she was 4 or 5. She said “hello” to us in English and looked utterly shocked when I responded with the Mongolian greeting “sain bain uu.” I was proud, and she doesn’t need to know that was one of the four things I know how to say in Mongolian.
The three women we went hiking with were wonderful, it is so nice to have locals show us around and tell us about the city. I’m so happy to know that this mountain is so very close to the city. I can’t wait to go back for another hike and maybe some wild strawberries. Hopefully I can pick up the pace with practice and time to grow more red blood cells.