The terrain had been beautiful, and at some times challenging. We had been walking for 8 days through the steepes of the Altai Region of Mongolia, flanked by Russia, Kazakstan and China. I was about to write that on this Mongolian adventure I discovered I had a fear of heights, but that isn’t quite accurate. I discovered I have a fear of snow covered, icy praecipes coating slippery scree at a height over 3500 metres altitude. The day after this discovery, we marched our way to the final destination, Tavan Bogd Mountains. A Spectacular set of 5 snow capped mountain peaks, laced by 2 glaciers. A glacial murrain, or rather what looks like an infinite set of lunar-like dunes made of crushed rock and boulders, separated the green plains we walked, from the gigantic river of slow moving ice. Eagles circled the vast blue sky, so high they look like a speck of dust. The next day, the group were set to climb the summit of Murcin Peak, where at the top, you could step one foot in Russia, the other Mongolia.
We pitched camp in prime position. Unzipping my tent, all I could see from the comfort of my sleeping bag, were the imposing and majestic mountains, against a lavender sky. Flanking the rear of my yellow tent, a traditional Mongolian Gur, occupied by a leathery skinned man, who monitored the local weather conditions and tracked climate change. We had come to the end of our journey, and on that last night, I decided to not climb the mountain.
The next morning I woke with a crème-brulee like sheet of ice on my sleeping bag, and immediately began to scan my body and mind for signs of regret or indecision. To my surprise I found stillness and comfort, which in itself raised some anxiety. Would I come to regret my decision to not join the group on the climb? The chances of returning to this part of the world, a remote corner of Mongolia accessible only by an internal flight, 4WD-ing and days of hiking would likely never come again. But my body was clear. It was content, and I had to be brave and trust my decision-making process. It might not make the ego happy, but the verdict was clear.
The whole reason I had decided to come on this trip, was to connect with my creativity. I wanted answers from my inner world, and I wanted to immerse myself in Mongolian culture. So far, the trip although wonderful, had been a mismatch to my desire. I had been left wanting, and really realised I had one day left in this magical place to connect and stay still. We had been moving since arrival in Mongolia, and any rest breaks were about eating or sleeping, and I was craving presence. So I stayed at base camp.
There were a small group of us, waving them off in the morning. A few gentle sighs of contentment rolled through as we settled in for a day of rest. My first task was to set up my picnic chair in the sun, facing the spectacular peaks, with a coffee and my beloved art supplies. The sun warmed my back, whilst I watched eagles hunting in pairs. It must have been a squirrel or some other little rodent that was being dropped and passed between the 2 birds of prey as they soared high above. Once satiated with feeling like David Attenborough, I meandered over to the murrain, exploring the rocks and venturing over each undulating rise, expecting to reach the glacier, only to find another rocky dune. So I sat, and stared out at a distant, turquoise glacial lake, a tiny fleck of blue against vast granite and white....
more to come....