Blog written by Annika and Inge
Although the weather was a bit dreary this morning our spirits were dampened. We had a breakfast of hot chocolate and a Mongolian chocolate spreadâ˜º with bread around a warming campfire.
After gathering the horses from the field, we packed up and headed back to our initial camp since we would be leaving the following day at lunch, and we were told that it is 27km away (we realised later that these were “Mongolian” kilometres and it was in actual fact only 14km away).
The ride itself was rather remarkable since we had a few interesting incidents – Lucas fell off his horse (yet again) and blamed it on the saddle, Mike also fell off twice (though he had an ex-racing horse that took off at every opportunity presented). We stopped for a break at the second campsite to let the horses drink and rest, while we too had a bit of a rest, though some of us did not! Dmitri attempted to push Martìn into the water, after which Constantin succeeded in tackling Dmitry and soaking him from head to toe. Moose and Mike had a stone-skipping competition and then we were off.
After riding through some more beautiful natural scenery, and some crazy galloping and unintentional horse racing, we finally arrived at our camp. By this time we were all ravenous so we had a bit of awesome trail mix, set up camp, made a lovely lunch of Trek ‘n Eat and had a soothing cup of tea.
It was only 2 o’clock but we were all exhausted from our many adventures and late night campfire sessions, we all lay around listening to Mike’s thrilling stories of his adventures around the world. We were so amped up after hearing about his narrow escapes from the drug lords in Columbia, to the war lords in the Congo, that we just felt we had to do something, so we saddled up our horses and went for a bit of an expedition ourselves through the forest.
One of our horse wranglers had to lead an injured horse into the water to sooth a leg wound, and to all of our surprise (and trepidation) he stripped completely and led the horse in.
Since we were close to the Toilogt (not TOILET, ToiloGt) camp where Akira was staying, we fetched her so that she could spend our last evening at Lake Hovsgul with us.
We will all be sad to leave this breathtaking place of unspoilt natural splendour, but we still have the fascinating Gobi experience ahead of us and we are all looking forward to it. Also, we will be very glad to have a chance to shower again since the OTHER Young Explorers are starting to smell â˜º – but you know what they say: “ Young Explorers never die, they just smell that way”.
The expedition team is experiencing the pristine nature of Lake Hovsgol, the larch forests, the lake sides, the grassland. However the beauty of this unspoilt nature is under increasing threat.
The larch forests and steppe grasslands around Lake Hovsgol are under two strong ecological pressures: firstly the increase in overgrazing as local culture changes from a nomadic to a more sedentary lifestyle and secondly the increase in mean temperature and the length of the growing season, which are driven by the climate change trends. The growing season now begins almost one month earlier than a decade ago, and there has been an increase in the total ecosystem water loss with no significant increase in precipitation over the last 43 years. Grazing has reduced overall plant biomass and the representation of grasses and plant litter in the steppe, and this has affected the system's tolerance to rising temperatures.