All good things must come to an end, so with some regret we packed our gear and started down the mountain. We have about 300 km of rough terrain to cover before we get to Hovd, at which point we will undertake the official “return trip” back to Ulaan Baatar.
There is not much to say about this leg of the trip. We got a bit lost trying to find our way around the construction of a new highway, but that led us to a small hike along the sides of the mountain pass. Here again we found a sequence of phyllites and schists, and we amused ourselves looking for porphyroblasts of uncommon minerals. I was hoping for staurolite, but instead we found chlinochlore, chiastolite, and pyrite, which is consistent with a low grade of metamorphism.
By lunch time we were pretty beaten up, so we stopped by a stream running across a verdant strip of land inhabited by horses. It was a great spot, and the lunch was good, but Zoe spoiled the mood by finding dozens of tiny ticks scrambling to climb on her tender skin. After a freak out session she also found that ticks were also hiding in her North Face fleece, upon which she labeled it a tick-infested jacket and threw it in the recesses of the jeep, vowing not wear it again until she has a chance to launder it.
And then I fell asleep in the back seat, conveniently padded by our gear. So I missed the afternoon portion of the grueling trip, which had lots of dust, washboard road surfaces, and surprise encounters with big construction trucks. I woke up as we were entering Hovd, another handsome city of about 30,000 people, but I could see by a look at John’s face that it had been rough.
Dinner was at a Kazakh restaurant, where the
high point was a sausage
made with horse meat that was particularly tasty.