Mongolia/Siberia June 2019

MONGOLIA..SIBERIA..LAKE BAIKAL KAYAKING TRIP JOURNAL 1

JOURNAL  1

Amtrak from Klamath Falls to Union Station downtown Los Angeles. Then a 12-hour direct flight from LAX International airport to Moscow, 5-hour layover then a 5-hour flight to Ulaan Baatar, Mongolia.

May 17th Friday day 1 of traveling: Angie picked me up at Steve’s place where I had been staying for going on 5 weeks, which I really appreciated. It gave me time to recuperate from the Appendix operation and finalize getting my gear together. She dropped me off at the Amtrak station around 4 and it didn’t open until 8:30 and the training didn’t come thru until 10:00. Long time to wait. It turned cold and windy. I had to move all the bags 3 different times and it beat the hell out of me. Obviously, I had not recuperated as much as I thought I had.

It wasn’t long and I wasn’t feeling well at all. In fact, downright lousy.

I had made a drive to K Falls a couple of weeks before, just to make sure I wasn’t going to have any issues with my baggage or stormy and that turned out to be the case.

The train arrived on time and fortunately I had booked a berth and within 15 minutes of getting on the train I was laying down with Stormy at my feet. I was not feeling well at all.

May 18th Saturday day 2 of traveling: With the berth came all 3 meals and I managed to pull my self up and out of bed and did go to the dining car and eat all 3 meals. At the appropriate stops, I took Stormy out for a walk. We have traveled so much together that she knows what the stops are for and what she is supposed to do.

We arrived at Union Station on time, about 11:00 at night. I had called 22 different Motel/Hotels between Union Station and the airport and all of them were booked. We slept on the floor in a section they had roped off, the station basically shuts down for a couple of hours. Fortunately, I had my ticket and all the bags and there really wasn’t much choice for them but to let me stay there. It was a long night to say the least.

We did go out for a walk for a while. There were homeless people literally sleeping everywhere. Also, along the train tracks, thought the entire trip down thru Central California and into LA there were dozens of homeless camps along the tracks with 1,000's of people living in tents, makeshift shelters and old RV’s. A pitiful site and I hear it is like that all over California now.

May 19th Sunday day 3 of traveling: I called a Uber SUV to pick me up and take me to LAX International and he arrived at about 8:00 AM. At the airport at 9 and he dropped off out front of the Aeroflot Terminal. I had to wait all day before I could figure out what was going to happen. I had been communicating with the head baggage manager, he found me and took half my bags to his office for overnight storage. Stormy and I pushed a cart with the balance of the bags over to the new Bob Hope USO and spent the night there. It was the 1st good nights sleep I had in 2 nights and it seemed like I was going to start feeling better.

May 20th Monday day 4 of traveling: At about 8 AM we pushed the cart back to the Aeroflot terminal and had to wait until 12:00 noon before the Aeroflot ticket terminal opened for the flight that left at 4:05. By now pretty much all of the Aeroflot ticket agents knew what was going on and they brought my bags from the office and we weighed them, and I got checked in. Fortunately, I was very prepared and none of the 7 bags weighed over 50 lbs. The baggage cost and Stormy $75 was $1,175 for 1 way. My round trip ticket was $1,200.

Stormy went in a medium size kennel I had brought; she went right in when the time came. I wasn’t happy about it at all, she didn’t seem to mind so that helped. We boarded on time and the plane left on time.

May 21st/May 22nd Tuesday arrive Wens day 5/6 of traveling:  I say 21st and 22nd because you gain a day. I started to feel better as the hours went by. Anyone who has had a long flight like that, it was tough. Particularly when you get older. It was just a long flight. I enjoyed absolutely nothing about it.

Once to Moscow they were waiting for me and checked my paperwork for Stormy and made sure my visa was in order, which both were. Then they took me down to where they brought me Stormy and we were able to go out and spent about 2 hours in a good spot. Stormy acted like she had been on a Sunday drive, she wasn’t stressed at all.  

However, she wasn’t too happy about going back in the kennel, but she did. She doesn’t like me disciplining here so she always works hard at pleasing me and pretty much obeys.

Then we were off to Ulaan Baatar for the 5-hour flight.  This meant I entered Russia and exited Russia so my visa got stamped for both.

May 23rd Wednesday day 7 of traveling:  We landed in UB at about 7 AM. Took me a couple of hours to get out of the airport, gather up all the bags, get Stormy and spend an hour explaining to them that there is no such thing as a “Pet Passport” and there was no such thing as a fee that needed to be paid to bring a pet into the country.  Once they understood I wasn’t a “soft touch” out the door and into the cab we stuffed all of the gear/the kennel/Stormy and off we were to downtown to the Zaya’s Hostel where I had booked 3 nights. It was my intention during these 3 days to get caught up on sleep, get the gear/food I had a list of, find a driver and head up to the lake, the 1st segment of the trip.

Great place to stay. Clean, quiet, the owners, 2 brothers spoke great English, the meals were good, and they had their guys bring all my bags into my room, which gave me multiple times to go thru everything. I couldn’t had made a better decision. They were all very respectful and treated Stormy very well. In fact, so far, I had absolutely no issues with bringing her or any difficulties.  

John Stamfi  was waiting for me, a Vietnam Vet who had been living in Mongolia for going on 20 years and we walked down and went for breakfast to get acquainted and plan to get what I needed. I obviously was beat and once we got thru with breakfast I went back and slept for the rest of the day and was up at 3:00 AM, which is about what it was going forward every morning.

May 24th Thursday day 8 of traveling:
John came back the next morning and took me around to the Sporting Goods store, two of them. I managed to get everything I needed. Then he took me to a couple of markets, but I really didn’t find what I was looking for. Not easy to get around with all the traffic.


I have had plenty of time to plan all of this, so I knew exactly what I was looking for and pretty much had accomplished everything.

May 25th Friday day 9th of traveling: Another day of going out and finding what I wanted. I found what they call the State Department Store just down the street and it turned out to be just as nice and 1st class as any store I have ever been in. That is where I ended up getting everything and not going any where else, it was just a 10-minute walk down the street.

Some quick observations on UB. UB is at one time or another the 1st, 2nd 3rd polluted city in the world. It sits down in a hole, has 3 coal fired energy plans and the Ger’s burn coal in the winter, 8 months plus or minus out of the year for heat. And there are 1,000's and 1,000's of Gers. There is huge mining boom going on, so there are literally 1000’s of buildings being built in one stage or another. It is quite a site to see all the cranes in the air, everywhere. The traffic is horrific. There are throngs of people. It is dirty, trashy and of course smells and is hard to breath. 

It is one of the last places in the world I would go for a vacation. Now I am not throwing Mongolia into that as you shall see as the Journal’s progress. No different than any place else in the world for a big City.  All the small shops support families.

The unemployment rate is somewhere I was told between 25% and 30%. A disaster in the making. Alcoholism is rampant as I am told but drugs aren't that big of issue. Tattoos are also the order of the day, but no body piercing. I did not see one instance of it. Everyone, now I mean everyone is glued to their phone. The taxi drivers, the policeman in the intersection directing traffic, everyone driving I mean everyone. I thought the Americans had it bad, but this is an epidemic.

People are nice, but do not respond to a hello, and walk right by you like you don’t exist. The males are arrogant, but I am sure that is the “personality” of the people. The women also just walk right by. They are very polite and stiff in the stores. But once the ice is broken, they have a good demeanor and a good sense of humor, but tough to break thru that.

The picture above right is bear spray and a baseball bat with a cover on the top so when it is my backpack no one knows it is a bat. For the drunken Mongolian or Russian who thinks he is going to give me a bad time.

May 26th Saturday day 10th of traveling:   I decided to stay and leave Monday AM which gave me all the time I needed to make sure I had what I wanted. Also, I told myself I was going to go out to the Genghis Kahn statue and museum, so have decided to play tourist tomorrow for 4 or 5 hours tomorrow Sunday.

I believe I have gotten everything, including a new pair of boots. Imagine, coming all the way to Mongolia to get a new pair of boots. Once again, I am very happy with the Zaya’s Hostel these guys are organized and do a great job. I also think they do a lot of tours/guiding. I have met people from France, Germany, Japan, Britain and America. A lot of Earth Watch folks, trying to save the world.

May 27th Sunday day 11th of traveling:
Tourist day, said I was going to do it and I did. Another American, a lady from Kansas I think, Earth Watch I believe, is going to go with me and share the taxi. We left about 10 and at 1st it was enjoyable. Then the road turned to literally Hell. It just beat the hell out of my stomach for over an hour and half. If I would have known wouldn’t have gone. I wish I would have had my back brace on for both my stomach and my back.

We got to the statue area and the pictures tell the story. 

We had to traverse the same road back and then went up to the top of a Soviet World War II Memorial that was erected in appreciation for the Soviets protecting Mongolia during the war.  

I was glad to get back to the hostel. I walked down the street and got a nice bowl of traditional Mongolian beef and noodle soup, the second time actually and a cold coke.

Didn’t take me long to finish up packing and getting things together and I was out.
















May 28th Monday day 12th of traveling: I don’t think I have mentioned it, but the time I have been waking up and getting up has been around 4 AM. That is a good thing because I like to get up early when I am on the water, the sun comes up early and get right on the water and have my breakfast in the kayak as the sun is coming up over the hill. Now that is tempered if I am on the wrong side of the lake or in a canyon, but I like to have my miles for the day no later than 2, because the wind invariably comes up.

The driver I had hired was at the hostel at 9:00 just like it was planned. We loaded up and headed out of town which took approximately 2 hours because of the size and because of the traffic.

Once again, I made the huge mistake of not having my back brace on, the road was as bad as the yesterday and it beat the living hell out of me until we got to a much better road. This trip is approximately 400 miles and the MPH are 50 I think, and nobody seems to speed. There are police check points it seems about every 75 miles and we even went through a sobriety check point. All of this keeps everyone pretty much in line.









































The further we got away from UB the less traffic we had and soon there was very little. The country was just as I had expected. If you were to shut your eyes and open them you would think you were in Eastern Oregon, or around La Grande or Elgin or Baker or even around Condon and Fossil. It looks like they are starting to farm, which is a huge transition from a Nomadic Herder’s life.

As for the herder’s there were many, many herds of goats, sheep, cattle and horses. I did not see any herds of yaks or reindeer; I think they are in specific areas. A lot of the prairie has been eaten down and is not growing back. That is the result of the goats and sheep. As we got further north, the prairie was much greener, and the grass lands were much healthier.

We stopped in good size town, got something to eat and about 20 miles further we just pulled off and I put my tent up and the driver slept in the back of his van. 1st night in the tent.

May 29th Tuesday day 13th of traveling:  I got him up early and we were on the road by 5. The Mongolians are not early risers, in fact most shops don’t open until 10, the better ones at 9.

The weather turned very foul as we got to the higher elevation and further north. Very cold and windy and it was an indication that perhaps I had arrived a little too early.

We arrived in Khatgal on Khuvsgul Lake. This is where the 1st part of the journey was to begin.

The lake is still frozen over. Imagine that. You would think, somebody throughout the last 2 weeks, in the tourist business would have had a clue. Wouldn’t have made any difference, I normally don’t change my plans or adjust my missions for any reason. But this was going to require some on the spot decisions.

I managed to work my way around the village and arrived at the New Roots Coffee House, ran by an American and I think a Ministry, I must confirm that. He sent me in the direction of the Mongol Ujin Tourist Camp and boy was that a God Send.  

The lady that runs the place, Dawa for short is her name,  speaks great English and is quite a whirlwind. More on that later. I have rented a Ger by the day, $30 a day, includes breakfast and a good one at that. If you eat lunch or dinner that is extra but not much. Easy walking distance to the lake and downtown.

I won’t have any problem resupplying above and beyond what I brought, there is everything here to be had.

Once I got my bags inside, I took the time in the late afternoon to unload the bags and get everything laid out on the other 3 beds in the Ger. It became apparent to me I had a lot of stuff. Way too much.



























Stormy and I went for a little walk and I think I was in the bed by 7.

May 30th Thursday day 14th of traveling: I am going to make these journals traveling until I get on the water. The ice won’t be off the lake until around the 15th to the 20th. Nothing obviously can be done. I have already got my kayak together, put all of gear for the 1st 2 to 3 weeks in it to make sure of the room and I have plenty to spare, which means when I get back here, and pack up for the next month or so it will work out just like I planned. There are the positive results of practicing the 5 P’s again.

Stormy and I have been walking out to the lake every morning and evening and will continue to do so. I will probably have them take us and the kayak down to the lake, less than a 5-minute drive and spend a few hours out on what open water there is here in the bay where the Eg River flows out. The only river to flow out of the lake.
 











JOURNAL 2

  • Mongol Ujin Ger Camp Khatgal, Mongolia

May 31st Friday 15th day of traveling/waiting: I spent some of the day going thru all of my gear again, repacking and packing. Then I had Dawa’s husband help me put the kayak on top of their car and he ran me down to the lake so Stormy and I could paddle around the open water there was and then on down to the outlet of the Eg River.










































Dawa, had mentioned that if I wanted to, her husband and a horse handler/guide would take me on a 5-day 4-night horseback ride. Why not I said. It has been 30 plus year since I been on a horse, but it is just like riding a bike, you never forget. I did forget how sore my behind was going to end up being about the 3rd day.

June 1st Saturday 16th day of traveling/waiting:  The guide showed up with the 4 horses, 3 for riding and 1 for a pack horse. We loaded up and were off thru town about 10 AM.










































The 1st day was riding on pretty much flat ground and took a good way from town. Our 1st nights camp was in a good place. It was not warm by any means. They build fires to cook and of course for warmth.

The 1st thing they do is boil water for tea and rest and relax and have tea and sweet rolls or biscuits flavored with garlic. Then they set their tent up. They both sleep in the small tent. The guide is up throughout the night checking on the horses.















They don’t get up to early, so we were back on the horses at around 10. We headed up in to the mountains in no time.















For some reason, they both decided to go one way and took the wrong canyon. We ended up in a box canyon. Two choices go back the way we came, or traverse basically straight up and over the ridge. That is what we did. A challenge and an experience.















This is a Golden Eagle’s nest. Notice Stormy heading down the hill to confront the mother Eagle. 

Then the father showed up and they both ran her off. There is one baby eagle in the nest. We saw several of these large nests, on the top of the larger trees and had been blown off by the wind. I saw no nests in top of trees. Several in the rocks. These Golden Eagles do not eat dead animals. They only take live animals for food.















These 2 pictures are on top of the crest of the ridge. Very cold and windy.















Once we walked the horses down to the bottom of the canyon we were where we should have been if we would have ridden a little longer and taken the right canyon.















Not the best place to camp for the 2nd night, but we were tired, it was windy, and it was cold, and I was pooped and so was Stormy. She had gotten tangled up in the back legs twice of 2 horses and she was not happy. That was after we had got down off the ridge. She did not want to go any further and wouldn’t keep up with us. I had to walk her on her leash for miles until we got to the camp site for the night.

Up the next morning at about 7. It was cold, had rained all night, everything was frozen and there was a couple of inches of snow up on the ridge we were going to ride over to go over to the lake for the ride back to town. We decided to not do that and fight the weather and rode back the way we came and took another canyon over to the lake.




























Stormy likes everybody and everybody likes Stormy. The picture of the small flat rock laying up against the bigger rock has some great pictorials on it. It would be a keep sake for sure, but against the law to take them.















Here you go. For eternity you can be looking out over a beautiful Mongolian Valley.















Yaks.                                                                                                                              The 1st site of the lake, frozen over.















3rd night camp site.                                                                                                Ice crystals on the lake.






























Nice ride back to town along the lake, with some tough spots. The trail hasn’t had any attention for years. Looking at Khatgal as we get close to town. Stormy and I walked all the way back, I was tired and sore.

Because of the box canyon and the weather, the ride turned out to be 4 days 3 nights and that was enough for me.

June 5th Wednesday 20th day of traveling/waiting: Rested most of this day, because I was obviously tired. I do spend time on the computer, trying to get things in perspective on the website for the Journals/Pics, for getting the information/pics to Julia for the book and making sure the inReach map stays updated and is working.

I have a very sore behind, but once I get moving and walking don’t notice it

I decided to get all of my gear out, lay it all out, put the tent up and make a list of it all, take a video and take some pics. Quite a site.
















List of Gear/Food for Mongolia/Siberia Kayak Trip 1st 2 Weeks for 240 plus or minus miles

Kayak

Feathercraft Tandem Expedition
Life jacket
Life jacket for Stormy
2 sets of paddles
2 ropes each end for securing kayak
Piece of rebar for securing kayak at night
Light spinning pole and reel/box of lures
2 seat water tight covers
1 clear bubble for Stormy’s seat
1 rain skirt for main seat
Sail and sail mast
Landing and take off drone table
1 large bottle of water
Pee bottle
Patch kit with various glues/material
Day pack
Gloves
Rain hat
Sleeve gloves…gloves sewed on to the
arms of a new good rain coat… cut them off go all the way up to the arm pit (Had them made)
Rowing gloves/bike gloves
Thumb braces for the arthritis
Fire starter/fire starter matches
3 Bear spray
3 Air horns
Various foods for snacks, beef jerky, candy bars, protein bars, dates, nuts
Lip balm
Super glue
Leather Man
Survival Knife
Roll of duct tape
Machete stored up in the kayak
Rudder with foot petals for steering
Umbrella for light wind sailing
Walking stick
Baseball bat
High top waders with boots
Dry suit uses above boots
NRS river boots
Cooking/Food
Table
Chair
Cook set
3 pots with lids
1 frying pan
2 spoons
2 forks
1 knife
1 steak knife
1 spatula
2 military P-38’s can openers
Gas cook stove
2 large gas containers
1 fire lighter
1 kitchen towel
Scrubber for cleaning dishes
Small bottle dish soap
Cup for hot
Small bottle cooking oil
Various teas and honey
Beef jerky
Dates
Trail mix nuts
Dried apricots
Bag of rice
Bag of spaghetti
Bag of pasta
3 tins tuna fish
6 soup packages
4 packages of mashed potatoes
4 packages of pastas
4 Gravy mixes
Bag of oatmeal/nuts
Bag of Mongolian biscuits
Bag of Mongolian sweet biscuits
6 Oreo cookie rolls
20 candy bars
30 protein bars
4 potatoes
4 carrots
2 onions
1 garlic clove
Salt/pepper/seasoning salt
Soy sauce
2 water bladders
Water purifier
Electronics
Goal Zero solar system with Sherpa 100w inverter
3 panel solar receiver
Camera
Phone/for use with drone
Parrot Anafi Drone 3 batteries
inReach
Notebook/for use with inReach paring
And 20 kindle books
Laptop/mouse
Large capacity storage pack
4 Thumb drives for storage
3-way USB
All charging cables for all electronics
Tent/Sleeping
Tipi style 8’ x 8’ tent
Air mattress/slips into pouch I had sewed on the bottom of the bag
Sleeping bag/with stuff bag
2 wool blanket inserts
2 sm pillows 1 for head 1 for knees
10’ x 10’ piece of plastic for under tent
Rain cover
2nd Rain/Shade cover I made
Tent pegs/hammer/pieces of small rope
Center tent pole
6 large black plastic garbage bags
Stormy’s stuff
Collar
2 small dry bags full of dog food
Various snacks
2 canvas feed containers for water and food
Collar/leash
Service Dog cover
Warm coat cover
Clothes
1 pair of deck pants/shorts also
4 pairs of socks
2 long sleeve shirts
1 short sleeve shirt
1 pair of sweats
1 raincoat
1 wind breaker

About noon I suddenly felt my right front tooth fall out. It had cracked and just flipped out. Unbelievable.

Once I got done with all of the gear and put it away, Dawa said she had to go to Muron the next day which would be Thursday and we could mail a box off all of my bags I brought the kayak in and all of the gear to Irkusku to a Kayak/Sporting Goods store I know about and we made plans to leave at 8:00 AM.









June 6th Thursday 22nd day of traveling/waiting:   We left right at 8 and arrived about 9:15.  We walked into the Dentist office, had to wait about 15 minutes and I was out of there at 10:30 with a new front tooth. $20.00. Unbelievable. Dawa got a cavity filled and some work on a chipped front tooth and I think that was about $30.00.

Then we went to the Post Office and sent the box of bags off to the Sporting Goods/Kayak Shop in Irkusku. Then we went and had a pizza in a nice restaurant at a hotel. She called a friend of hers, who is the Director of the Large Park/Preserve on the Western side of the lake and he said I do not need a permit to camp on the bank of the lake along the park. He was interested in where I was going to camp, so he is going to come by and I will show him where I expect to camp on the inReach map. He also told me he knows of no water on the river that is dangerous enough that I can’t paddle, which is in direct contrary to what Ernst is telling me. That is another story unto itself I will relate when the time comes, and I know what I am talking about.

After lunch, Dawa went to get her nails done and I wondered around the town square for an hour and a half.  Goes to show you women are the same all over the world.

When she was done, we went to the grocery store I got a few more things and she got some supplies for the kitchen. Then back to camp. New tooth and all.

The weather was beautiful all day, except the wind consistently comes up in the afternoon and that is why I will be on the water by 5:30 every morning. This waiting for a couple of weeks is going to put us into the beginning of the good weather.

When I got here the hills were still very brown. Now they are very green.

June 7th Friday 23rd day of traveling/waiting:  There is a Frenchman here who rode a horse up from the Gobi Desert about 750 Kilometers I think it was. He had lost his phone, so all he had was a compass. A feat unto itself, because it was out thru the hills, the mountains and the steppes. Now that was a hell of a thing to do and accomplish. But here is the real part of that story. He had never been on a horse before in his life, bought one and did the trip. He just sold it in the last 5 minutes while I have been working on this Journal.   Amazing. Dawa calls us both “Not Normal”.   Seems like I have heard that before.















Went for the usual walk to the lake this morning, Stormy loves that. Beautiful day again.

JOURNAL 3

Mongol Ujin Ger Camp Khatgal, Mongolia

June 7th Friday 23nd day of waiting/traveling:
June 8th Saturday 24th day of waiting/traveling:
June 9th Sunday 25th day of waiting/traveling:


June 10th Monday 26th day of waiting/traveling: I will run all the last four days together. After all, absolutely nothing was different on either of the days. Just being patient, started to exercise again, we walk every morning and evening down to the lake, about a mile down and back. Looks like this morning the ice may be going off. The owner is going to drive me North up the lake here later and it will get us up high and will be able to see the main body of water to see if anything has changed since we rode by on the horseback ride.
All the kids are happy






They pour a lot of concrete with these little mixers


I have started the “Tabletop” book we are going to do on this trip. Also have the Journal’s updated and posted and when I leave will get the kayak in the water/packed up take some pics.

We went up to the “lake police” as they are called and talked to one of the guys. He says the 15th or 16th so the date for the ice to go off remains the same.

June 11th Tuesday 27th day of waiting/traveling: We went out and paddled again for a couple of hours. A lot of ice has gone off in the bay, in fact all of it. So, I had the owner drive me up to the top of a hill overlooking the lake, and sure enough it is still frozen about 5 miles up the lake and completely. Frustrated, because if I were to leave, I would get to a point quick where we would have to camp on the bank. Not a lot of difference doing that vs here, but it would require eating up supplies.

I am leaving Friday, regardless, that is my plan.

June 12th Wednesday 28th day of waiting/traveling: We went out an did another little paddle around the open bay water today. Trying to keep my days filled in and stay active. Went to the New Roots Coffee shop where the internet works well. The Wi Fi here at the Ger Camp is not working well at all. I ordered a dark pound cake to take with me and will pick it up Thursday afternoon, with the plan still to leave on Friday AM the 14th.

June 13th Thursday 29th day of waiting/traveling: The plan is still to have the owner of the Ger Camp to take me down to the lake shore at a rough boat launch site this afternoon about 4. I will set my tent up, get the kayak packed up what I can and get up early and leave finally.

Went back down to the New Roots and finished up on the internet what I could. Went to the store and got a few more things I thought of. And away we go.

Thursday waiting to go down to the lake

Journal 4 The Beginning

Khuvsgul Lake

June 14th thru June 23 9 Days

KHUVSGUL LAKE

Younger Sister Of Lake Baikal


The most scenic destination of Northen Mongolia, Khuvsgul Lake (Khovsgol Nuur, also spelled 'Hovsgol') is the largest freshwater lake in Mongolia by volume and second largest by area holding 2% of the world's fresh water. Located near the Russian border, at the foot of the eastern Sayan Mountains, it is nicknamed "Younger sister of the Sister Lakes (Lake Khuvsgul and Lake Baikal)". The area of Khuvsgul Lake, raised well above sea level, is 2760ms. Its length is 136 km and width 36.5 km, and up to 260 m deep.

Khuvsgul is a land of thick forests, rushing rivers, sparkling lakes and rugged mountains. This stunning area were set aside as Lake Khuvsgul National Park (2500 hectare). In recent years, this spectacular landscape of water and mountains that is sacred to so many has become the destination of more and more travelers, from all around Mongolia and beyond. Heading through the endless pine trees and into the open valleys dotted with the white gers and grazing herds, you'll be wondering if you haven't set foot back in 19th century Montana.

The highlight of the area is the ethnic reindeers' herders called Tsaatan. This ethnic groups of Turkic origin related to the Tuvans are the most exotic and mystical people with small numbers, inhabit in the amazing beautiful taigas. Tsaatan people worship "the Eternal Blue Sky and Mother Earth" and retained an ancient, unusual culture based on shamanistic rituals and forest-based reindeer-herding. Shamanism, rather than Buddhism, is the religion of choice in these parts.

By Mongolian standards, Khuvsgul Lake is touristy, but this ensures good facilities, and once you get a day's travel from the main town you'll likely have the place all to yourself.

If you love fishing (a fishing permit is required), then you'll get excited about Khuvsgul. The lake is full of fish, such as lenok, salmon and sturgeon, and the area is home to argali sheep, ibex, bear, sable, moose and a few near-sighted wolverines. It also has more than 200 species of bird, including the Baikal teal, bar-headed goose, black stork and Altai snowcock.

This is a place in Mongolia where one can get sense of total unspoiled wilderness. The area is paradise for outdoor travelers and there are plenty of room for activities like hiking, birding, fishing, horseback travel and kayaking.

June 14th Friday Day 1 of on the water:   We got down to the boat ramp, such as it is and got set up, tent up, kayak in the water, all the gear sorted and ready to pack in the kayak 1st thing in the AM.


Some kids showed up about 1:30 in the morning, I am sure drinking the Vodka and listening to music and did not leave until about 3:30. So it was a long night. I started packing up at 4:00 and was on the water at 5:00.












There approximately 3 million people in Mongolia and plus or minus 70 million animals


Hate to send somebody who didn’t see very well to go get the cake.







1st night in the tent/camp set up for the trip. 




 Lot of nights left to set up and break down. If only the water would stay as calm as you see in the background.

Packed up on the 1st morning, Stormy in her seat and her friend not wanting us to leave laying in the foreground. This dog ran along the bank for several miles until we got out of town.













Started raining within 45 minutes and it didn’t quit raining for over 36 hours. The most miserable beginning of any trip I have done.



And here I thought I would have the whole lake to myself. This is the beginning of the tourist season; I think this is a Religious Shrine that they bring the Mongolians to. This is probably the 1st trip of the season.



In Khatgal yesterday I saw tour buses, backpackers, trial riders in dune buggies with folks from Israel. A clear sign that the tourist season has started.

In the last couple of days, I have met two guys riding desert bikes they rented in Ulan Baatar from Edmonton, Canada. A girl from Placid Lake, NY on an expedition to finish her graduation from college, all alone. She had been harassed by a couple of drunk young Mongolians, so I had her follow me to my Ger and gave her 1 of 3 cans of bear spray I had. A hitchhiker/trekker from Germany what had been all over the world. A couple that stayed at the Ger 1 night from Israel. A couple from Germany who went down to the Gobi Desert with a Guide. 5 guys from Yugoslavia and that were on desert bikes and I think the rode all the way to here across Russia. Two guys from Hungry that were on the 2nd part of drive thru this part of the world, on their way to Irkutsk to fly back home. They are from all over the world. Mongolia is just starting to be a tourist destination.

A very miserable 1st day and the ice one sees in the picture is a foreboding picture of what is to come.


I managed to get a fire going on the 1st nights camp spot. I don’t know why; it was raining nonstop and I was more comfortable and warmer sitting in the tent than I was standing in the rain by the fire.

As the hours went by things got damper and more wet and it was to get worse.

June 15th Saturday Day 2 of on the water:


This picture tells the story at least when it comes to perhaps staring the trip prematurely.


I have never been much of a selfie guy, but this 1st morning I wasn’t having much fun.












Lots of rain. Lots of fog. Lots of very cold and damp weather. But no wind as the glass like condition of the lake shows.




Getting ready for the 2nd nights camp site up. It was as miserable as it looks believe me and lots of ice to contend with.

In the trips I have done, at no time can I remember the trip starting out so miserable. For a week prior it has been very sunny and halfway warm. Although the wind/a good stiff breeze was blowing almost constantly down the lake by 10 in the morning. Not so now. No wind at all, so that is what made this possible.



2nd night’s camp site. Not a bad spot, but I had to walk up the hill a way to find enough of a flat spot. Raining constantly.


I don’t care who you are or how tough you are or how much you have done. This is a picture and what I was faced with taking off on the 3rd morning and it wasn’t a pretty picture.



I finally remembered I had an umbrella on the kayak, I got it out and it help tremendously by keeping the rain off me and out of the kayak.

June 16th Sunday Day 3 of on the water:

3rd day about noon the sun came out and I paddled around the point and the bay was iced in. No turning back because there had not been a camp spot for miles, pretty much cliffs for all morning long. So far there have not been that many good camp spots.



Here is what I had to work with is all. A very small area on the rocks, slopped, nothing even remotely close to flat. But the sun was shining.

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Here is what I ended up with, I flattened out a spot up on the high side for the sleeping bag and blankets to lay in and just lived with the rest. You can see everything laid out today which I managed to get everything dried out, repacked and put away before it started raining again late in the day. Notice the ice still locking me in.



Not a kayaker’s dream water. Impossible to paddle thru something like this. I had no clue as to would it just be tonight. A day or more before it broke up or blew someplace else.

I heated some water up and shaved and cleaned up a little bit.

June 18th Monday Day 4 on the water:


What a difference a night makes. The bay was completely free of ice this morning at 5 AM where last night it was complete full of ice. We packed up, packed the kayak and set out on a beautiful, sunny morning at about 6:00 AM. If it is like this, I have a bowl of rolled oats with trail mix and raisins with some milk. I don’t know if it is cows milk, yaks milk or goats milk, but it works. I haven’t been making tea a much as I would like to, because this new gas stove I have, with the cylinders that are smaller than the Green Propane bottle, isn’t going to last as long as I would like them to.


What a gorgeous morning. Not even a breeze and the reflections off the water were picture perfect.

We paddled for close to 3 hours which put it at about 10 AM and we took a break and went for a walk. I found this pretty flower sitting in the middle of a small spring fed meadow and it sat right in the middle of the meadow and was the only one.


Around every point was another picture-perfect view. After 3 days of almost all fog it was refreshing.


The 1st water fall I have seen.

Notice how clear the water is.







come around the point and here the bay is completely closed in with ice. I know there is no turning back because there is no camping spot for several miles behind me. As I look down to the end of the bay, I see what appears to be the perfect camp spot. But how to get there. 

I decide to get out on the bank, put my dry suit on, break the ice along the bank and pull the boat behind me. Below is a link to the video I took of doing this. I put the camera on the platform in front of my seat. Took me well over an hour to go the ½ mile to get there.


Stormy waiting patiently while I put my dry suit on.











June 19th Tuesday Day 5 on the water:

Once again, we woke up in the morning and the bay was completely free of ice. Now what you don’t see is an ice bank lying about a ¼ mile offshore. I could have packed up and paddled back around that ice pack, but that would have put me out in the middle of the lake, and this is not where I want to be at any time of the day.

I decided to take a break today for a variety of reasons and just see what the day held on the ice. My thumbs and wrists were/are sore. They could use a break since we are just starting out. My back was bothering me terribly last night but this morning it feels quite good. Same spot on the left lower side where the wall of 2x4’s fell on me up in Anchorage, Alaska a long time ago. It has bothered me ever since. I knew I should get caught up on my journals and keep up on the book. It is very difficult to do a journal when you get behind on them, I know this from experience. I am already 2 weeks behind on the original schedule waiting on the ice. I have lost at least 1 day out of the last 4 because of the rain and the ice, so I am resigned to the that I will have to work hard at getting caught up on my schedule to make the Class Reunion on September 20th/21st. It is going to take me a good 15 days I think to do this lake because of the challenges. Really doesn’t make any difference at all.





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I am not going to have enough food, but I can resupply at the village Turt on the north end of the lake. Shouldn’t take me longer than hour to walk into the grocery store and get what I want. I bought a can of “beef” not really knowing what it was other than it had a picture of a cow on the can. As it turned out, it was beef in a gravy. I had brought some fresh potatoes, carrots, onion and garlic with me, so I made a hobo stew last night, but that can of beef with the gravy in it and cooked on some coals. You talk about good. So hopefully the village up north has some and when I resupply to head down the Eg the kayak will be packed in the front and the back with at least 12 cans of that meat and gravy.

As the day has progressed the ice is shifting and moving, and I think we will get up in the morning and it will all be gone or at best a way to paddle out into the open water. I can see no ice, even with the binoculars I have in the distance as far as I can see but wouldn’t surprise me.

I heard and saw the 1st boat on the lake so that is a good sign. There is an island just off to the left that is a rookery for sea gulls, I think, because I remember reading something about it.

I will be caught up on the journals, also will get some work done on the book. I have the solar out and have charged up the power pack, after using it to charge up the laptop. The zipper on the rain fly broke and so I sewed some ties on and it works well. If that isn’t closed good, the wind and rain can come in. One of the best things I did was make/sew up this 2nd rain fly that kind of acts like a porch.

I have noticed for the 3rd time now that the lake is dropping a little bit every day. It certainly isn’t full and that is why there is not enough water flowing out of the outlet to get the kayak out of the lake. I will get a ride about 15 miles down river so when I get in the river, I have plenty of water and current.

The picture below shows where the kayak was last night, and the water was right up to the lake side.

We will get all packed up tonight before we go to bed, so it won’t take as long in the AM to hit the water. If the weather will hold, I can make up a couple of days if my back will hold out. I miscalculated which side to paddle up the lake. I should have taken the west side, because I have not seen any ice at all over there, and I think that is because there are fewer bays if any. That is the difference. The ice gets in these bays and lasts longer. Then I could have come down the lake on the east side and by then the ice would have been gone. Not a big deal.

For sure if you are like me and like to camp where there is totally wilderness and absolutely no humans, then follow me. Because we are going to be camping in some of the most pristine and beautiful country, I have ever been in.

I will have mashed potatoes and brown gravy and finish off the last of the sourdough bread.

Here are 3 pictures from the drone.



It won't be long, and I will have this drone figured out!



Impossible to paddle thru this!



This is where I pulled the kayak to open water.

June 20th Wednesday Day 6 on the water:

We got up the usual time about 5:30 and as you can see no such luck with the ice going out of this bay. I just don’t want to sit around another day. I decided to walk up to the point that I came around Monday noon and had to pull the boat thru the ice…link to the video…to find a good camp spot an it was well worth the effort because this is a good camp spot.

Upon returning I just wasn’t sure it was the thing to do. I tidied up and had some tea then had some breakfast and it just felt like it was going to be a great paddling day and I just didn’t want to miss it. I walked back up to the point and I could see since I was there about 2 hours ago, the ice seemed to be moving away from the bank and away from the point, giving me access to the open water much better than it was just 2 hours ago. That was enough for me.

























Once there, I climbed up on some rocks, got the dry suit off, pulled some dry clothes out of the kayak and once I was ready, away we went and thankful for it.

So far, it was the best paddling weather we have had.

I made it close to the point, which was my goal, took close to 3 hours. Considering I didn’t get started until 11:00 I decided to just be thankful I was away from the ice and found another great camp site and hope to get a routine going in the morning with the open water starting on the water at about 6:00 AM. I have no idea with the way things have gone but should be up at the North end of the Lake in 3 days, gone into the grocery store in Turt and be paddling around the end of the lake and head back down the lake. We shall see.



I have never had such a challenging start of a trip. Ever.

June 21st Thursday Day 7 on the water:

Our best day for paddling yet. That isn’t saying much with all the challenges. Awake at 5 out of the sack at 5:30 packed up and on the water by 6:30 and it was beautiful. I paddled for almost 7 hours which considering what I been thru these past 6 days I was beat.

04445I have seen absolutely no one since seeing all those people in that power boat several days ago. I did see/hear one of the smaller tour boats on the Rookery Island and saw the large tour boat going around the island

No animals. Very little waterfowl. No fish.

Last night the thunder and lightening carried on for hours then the wind blew thru the top of the trees. I don’t think the tent moved one time, but we were in the trees.


It stayed calm all day and it is calm now almost 6. I fried/cooked up some potatoes, carrots, onion, garlic in some mushroom gravy and once again it was delicious. Couldn’t eat it all so will heat it up in the morning really quick and Stormy and I will have it for breakfast.

I am 2 ½ days from the end of the lake. I hope to be in Turt by Monday 10 AM and then heading around the north end right after hitting the grocery story.

I had hoped to do this part of the trip in 12 days it is going to be 15 or 16 with the weather and ice delays. Once again, I won’t know how these delays are going to impact the over all schedule until I get on the Eg and down into the Selenga to see what the current is like in both rivers.

From the drone looking back from where we came.

Great place to camp on a bluff looking out over the lake. This is not normally what I do because I am exposed to the wind.

With some luck the weather will be calm again tomorrow.



I am tired but sleep well and waking up refreshed. It is the lower left back that is the issue.



June 22 Friday day 8 on the water:

I was up at the usual time and on the water by 7. I have not got the packing up the camp and the kayak packed down to my usual organized way of doing it. I am going to work on that. I don’t like working so hard nor do I like getting stressed about it at the beginning of the day. Especially when I am sleeping well and waking up feeling good. Hopefully my back is getting use to what I am putting it thru.

 We were lucky last night that the wind didn’t come up. As I mentioned, I normally won’t camp out in the open like that and especially up high on a bluff. Stormy just won’t leave me alone in the evenings if we don’t go for a walk. Once that is done, she settles down. She sure has this down and really works hard to make it easy on me when it comes to her staying out of the way and understanding the routine. She doesn’t like seeing me or feeling that I am stressed out any more than I do.

We made good time for the 1st 3 hours. I feel like I am getting my strength back and getting my paddling rhythm down and once I do everyday hopefully will feel like we accomplished something. This is the 1st day out of 8 I have felt like we did. I even got to sail for a while, just not enough of a breeze. If I can’t sail faster than I can paddle, then I am wasting time. I can paddle 2 to 2 ½ miles an hour, so that means the breeze/wind must be about 4/5 MPH to make it worth it.



Came around a corner and here is a resort being built. It is being built by one of the mining companies for their employees and guests. All private. Crazy how they do things here. There was only one guy in the whole camp that spoke English and he worked for the mining company. He was very nice to me. We didn’t stay 20 minutes and back on the water.







Lots of pretty wildflowers.





















This is a Russian family on holiday from Irkutsk.

About 2 if felt like it was going to rain. My wrists/thumbs and forearms are obviously getting a hell of a workout. I would have like to be able to be in Turt by noon tomorrow, not going to happen. So I will get with in an hour or two of paddling distance, spend tomorrow night, hit the grocery store at 10 AM when they open and be back on the water and perhaps around the north end of the lake for the 10th nights camp on the west side and headed back.

It is not going to take near as long to get back as it did to get to the end of the lake. I have only 2 bays to get across then it is a straight shot. The only thing I have noticed is it rains more, almost every afternoon thunderstorms on that side over the mountains, so I will just make sure we have camp set up when I need to miss the down pours. And hope I can get some down the lake 6/7 MPH winds and sail as much as possible.

June 23 Saturday day 9 on the water:

Up at 5:30 and on the water at 6:30. I still am not happy with my overall system for breaking camp and packing the kayak up. Normally I can pack the kayak up the night before and there is little to put in it other than the tent and sleeping bag, blankets and air mattress. However, I must pull the kayak up on the bank out of the water, because it seems a lot of wave action occurs at night. The moon, the stars lined up I don’t know. In order to do that, I have to have the kayak unloaded or there is no way 2 guys can lift it.

Pretty much foggy, damp and cold all day long. The sun came out several times. I bet I took my gear off and put in back on at least 6 times. Very frustrating, but I better get used to it. I just have this feeling though that the weather is going to take a turn for the better soon

0-381000I came across this Russian family camping on a 2-week vacation. The 2 men weren’t very talkative, but the ladies and the kids really enjoyed me trying to tell them what I was doing. Then one of the men brought over a really old map of Lake Baikal that I wished I couldn’t have kept. I will try to find something like it.

As I planned, there was no way I was going to make it to Turt. My wrists, forearms and back need a break, especially my back. We are at a small beach type park, not far out of Turt that I am sure they use for the summer months. No one around as usual. I did meet another family from Irkutsk. He owns a bakery and I hope he friends me on Facebook, very nice couple with 2 kids, wished I would have gotten a picture.

A guy couldn't ask for a better traveling companion.

We don’t have to be in a big hurry in the morning. The grocery stores don’t open until 10 AM and we have maybe 3 hours to paddle. I couldn’t have finished it out this afternoon.

I am going to start Journal 5 beginning tomorrow.



The only flowering bush I have seen on the entire East side.

Journal 5 Return to Khatgal On the West Side of Khuvsgul Lake

June 24 Sunday day 10 on the water:

Usual time we are crawling out of the tent. Fog, fog and more fog. Everything stays damp, wet an it is a damp cold especially when there is a wind or even a slight breeze.

I had spent some more time late in the afternoon, despite being so tired, to once again repack everything, consolidate and basically start getting ready for putting on the Eg River. I am going to be load with food, I don’t want to have to stop and deal with any villages for weeks if I can get by with it.

My goal was to get to Turt, get the groceries on my list I had been making and get back in the kayak and paddle out of town a way and call it a day. The fog really settled in and there were times I couldn’t even see the front of the kayak. Very stressful. Even with the in Reach I struggled for hours trying to keep a straight line. The in Reach has a lag time so for awhile I would be going north, then east and then west. Finally, I just gave up because I was trying to cut my paddling down my crossing some open water and headed to the bank. That was a task in itself just to keep going straight.




























After about 6 hours I finally was approaching Turt but couldn’t even see the bank and I was 50 feet off of the bank. Now and then I would see an outline of a building. As I could see in the in Reach we were just about periductular with the village, the fog lifted and it was like it never was there. Very surreal.

And low and behold I was right in front a very nice Ger camp with cabins also, I wasn’t 50 feet off the bank.

One guy came out and helped me with the kayak. He was from Irkusku and was a Priest in the Russian Orthodox Church. So were the two friends they were with. He spoke some English and helped me talk to the owner and I decided to get out of the kayak, spend the night, get cleaned up and have the kayak packed so all we had to do was put a few things away and take off.















Once again, I took everything out, went to town and bought what I could find on my on my list and repacked everything. I had them cook me some dinner, washed up and shaved and was asleep by 9. Late for us.

I had decided if the weather was good for a lake crossing, I was going to head straight across about 8 to 12 miles and not do what there was left of the lake.

June 25 Monday day 11 on the water:

I stuck my head out of the Ger about 5 and could see the weather was going to be good for the lake crossing.


We were on our way at 6:30. Stormy had a couple of friends there and she didn’t want to get in the kayak. The 1st time she has been reluctant, but I didn’t blame her. I really didn’t want to get in it either.

It took us almost 6 hours to get across. That is close to 12 miles, nonstop. If I haven’t mentioned it, they surmise that a kayaker takes about 20,000 to 25,000 paddles per day. Do the math on 2,000 miles plus or minus 90 days plus or minus. That is a very long time for anybody to be in a kayak, let alone a 72-year-old guy and his dog. The fog rolled in on top of the water from down the lake, but it wasn’t very high, so I could see the tops of the hills I was shooting for.

Once I got close to the shore, I could see it was going to have some nice camp spots, so I decided to just call it a day and that is what we did. Great camp spot again. Got things set up and took Stormy for a good walk, which she just loves.

Couple observations. Be thankful you don’t have to live in Turt, Mongolia. I still haven’t seen any wildlife. With the warmer weather the flies are coming out, have only seen a couple of mosquitos. My face is getting very wind and sun burned. I do have sunscreen. I get back to Khatgal I am going to see if there is a drug store and get some of that white cream you cover the top of your ears and nose with and more sunscreen. I have been wearing my hat.

Overall, I think my back is adjusting. My thumbs/wrists are taking a little longer but over all I feel great and that is more than I can ask for.

At this time I expect it to take 3 ½ days to get back to the Ger camp. We shall see.



No question this dog knows how to relax.



Lots of beautiful wildflowers.






June 26 Tuesday day 12 on the water:

Up and at them this morning and on the water by 6:30. After paddling so hard yesterday to get across this bay with the wind blowing, I went to bed very early. I built a fire and heated up a flat rock and put it on my back and it really did wonders. So far that was the worst decision I had made. All I had to do was just sit tight, rest a couple of hours and the wind changed directions and it would of just blew us across the bay.



The bay we crossed. It looked a long way and it was.




















No question I was 3 weeks early.

Another good camp site, but I was so tired I didn’t cook anything for dinner. We had stopped and heated up what was left of last nights dinner, a stew I had made and some rice for it to go on.



Meadow after meadow of wildflowers.







June 27 Wednesday day 13 on the water:

Not quite as early this morning but we were still up and on the water at 7. The wind blew out of the north all night long, no rain, one of the 1st days/nights it hasn’t rained. I wised up quick and I am always prepared, including pulling the kayak up on the bank.

One certainly can’t say the views aren’t majestic.

I tried to sail, but the wind just kept coming from all four directions. I have never seen wind swirl around as much as it is on the west side of the lake. It must have something to do with the mountains that are along the entire length of the lake on the west side.



After giving up on the sailing, we made great time with the wind to our back. Every time we came up on a bay that had a meadow in it and a canyon up in the mountains the wind just howled from the canyon and it was a lot of work to get around and across those meadows. But once we did, we covered a lot of water.



2:00 was approaching and I decided to stop at one of these meadows and found a good spot up in the trees, even though the wind has been blowing nonstop. It had been blowing out of the north, now out on the lake it looks like it is blowing out of the south, with the wind coming out of the canyon from the west. But we are in a good spot.

Stormy is waiting patiently for us to go on a walk, but I am so tired of the wind I am hoping it blows itself out. If not, I will take her for a while. I saw 2 deer across a little inland pond, the 2nd time I have seen the deer. They are very small. We saw a couple on the horseback ride.

One of the few days I did not take a picture of the camp site.

A couple more observations. I felt good this morning. I am getting in shape and even at my age, I can feel myself getting stronger. Once I get on the Eg, it will be a completely different type of paddling. I will have the current, shouldn’t have to deal with the wind as much and certainly no open water. However, until I can feel confident, I understand the river, I will be very careful every time I come around a bend, staying in the slack water to the inside and out of the current going out and around the bend. That is where the root balls, or the trees will pile up, not on the inside where the slack water is.

June 27 Thursday day 14 on the water:

Not the best of weather today, a lot of wind blowing in all different directions. We were up the usual time and still made good time. I had a bay to cross the 1st thing and when the wind/breeze is in your face, it just makes for tough paddling.















We made good miles and I decided to stop a little early, around 2:00 because I was tired and even at that time it is an 8-hour day on the water.

Stormy is always ready to stop, get out, roll on the grass and get some exercise. She is so good about being in the kayak.

June 28 Friday day 15 on the water:

This camp site for the night before the last day on the lake, was probably the worst one of all. It was close to several Ger camps. Lots of people. Lots of noise. Ground was damp. They like their basketball here in Mongolia, so some kids not far away played way into the night. The Mongolians don’t go to bed early and they don’t get up early.

Camping with the Yaks.

A man who must watch the property came over to me and told me there was a $5,000 Mongolian dollar charge for the camp spot. That is about maybe $2.00.

It had been a very long day, one of the longest. The weather was perfect all day long for a kayaker and I tried to take an advantage of it. I think we were on the water close to 10 hours with few stops. Pretty sure we did close to 20 miles and it could have been miles more.
















I thought we were headed to a good spot for a camp spot, but it is hard to see the lay of the land when the water is smooth as glass. Unfortunately, I misread, and we had to paddle for another good 2 hours to find the bad camp site, but it could have been on the rocks and we would have to take it, I was done for the day.

I estimated from my inReach map we had around 16 miles left to go, that is a full 8 hours of paddling and hoped the weather would cooperate.

June 29 Saturday day 16 on the water:

Up again early. I am feeling great when I get up and get going. I noticed on the 14th night that I could turn over in bed. Before that it was almost an impossibility I was so sore and my back hurt so bad No more. I am also noticing I am not as tired once I get the camp site set up. That is a good thing obviously. However, there is some downside. Right now, everything is dead. There hasn’t been any sun to charge things up with the solar charger. So not much to do. Which is not good when you have a lot of time on the bank.



We hit the water at 6. Once again, the 2nd day in a tow, great paddling weather and we just kept at it. I paddled for a good 5 hours straight and finally stopped and had some bread and sliced meat.
















Mongolia is not only known for the Gers, but tipi’s also. The difference is the put an entrance on to the front/the door of the tipi and that is the 1st time I have seen it done that way. Next tipi I do, and I have one more in me I will have it done that way.



Nicest boat on the lake.

Once we got into the channel that leads into Khatgal, we were able to sail right to the boat ramp. I walked up and 20 minutes later, the gear is in the Ger, the kayak is sitting out along the side of the Ger and I am getting things squared away, separated and ready to start packing for the Ger.



Just before hitting the boat ramp where I ended the lake trip.











I plan on being on the Eg Tuesday morning at 10:00. He will drive me down about 20 Kilometers before the outlet of the river from the lake. The lake is low, so there is no way, the way I am going to be loaded that I want to fight the low level of the river/outlet because I am going to be loaded.

Once I gave Stormy a bath in the shower, which she enjoyed, took a shower and shaved, I went into the community Ger and had some tea and a piece of that cake I like. Had dinner about 7 and did a few more things with the gear and was ready for bed.

Unfortunately, the folks from UNESCO here, some of them with their kids and they stayed up and played and laughed until 11:00. So, I got up and did some more piddling with the gear.

June 30 Sunday day 17 at the Ger camp:

Up early, 4:30 AM. To early really, but it has turned cold and is raining so I built a fire. Feels good.

Journal 6

The Eg River – The Drive Up Out of the River Canyon-

The Two Days in Erdeinbougane-The Drive to the Russian Border-

Two Days at the Hotel Before Putting on the Selenga River

Eg River

The Eg River (Mongolian: Эгийн гол, Egiin gol ) is a river in the Khövsgöl and Bulgan aimags in northern Mongolia. It is the only outflow of Lake Khövsgöl and a tributary of the Selenge river. Wooden bridges exist near Khatgal and in Tünel sum, and a concrete bridge has been built in Erdenebulgan. In Bulgan aimag there is a bridge between Teshig and Khutag-Öndör sums. Since the early 1990s there have been efforts to build a hydroelectric dam on this river. These attempts, however, have been opposed by several academic communities: archaeology because of the rich and not yet fully explored archaeological sites in area; geology because the area may have earthquakes. A dam would also displace parts of the local population as it floods some pastures and homesteads.


July 1 Monday day 18 at the Ger camp:

Finished packing all the gear and food and did a trial run packing the kayak. I am taking twice as much food as I ever have and twice as much dog food.  I made a mistake on calculating the amount of river miles I will have to do on the Selenga, which now is around 200 miles, not 420. 420 miles is the entire length of the Selenga, I am hitting it somewhere over halfway. That really helps me on my “lost 2 weeks” waiting for the ice to go off the lake.
I have done some one the tabletop book and sent the beginnings to Julie in Napa to start to come up with the lay out. I also got Journal #3, #4 and #5 posted. Having some issues with the Journal section of my website. I am hoping James can figure it out because we have spent a lot of time to make it simple. Not the case yet. But they are good enough. My plan is to leave the Ger camp about 9 AM and get to the river within a half an hour, get the kayak loaded up and hit the river.

I met a couple that had been living in Edmonton, Canada from the states, moving the Salt Lake City. They have been riding bikes along the Eg and say it is a beautiful river, smooth running. I don’t expect any issues at all. Boy was I mistaken on that statement as one will see when the time comes.

July 2nd Tuesday day 17 on the water:


We were up again early, showered and shaved here at the Ger camp by 5:30 AM. I made sure all the gear was ready to go, went for our usual morning walk when we can and just had to be patient. Paid my bill, walked to the bank and got a few more Mongolian monies out of the ATM. The driver who was going to take me about 30 Kilometers down river showed up at the time of 9:00 AM. After saying the goodbyes, we were on our way.



Dawa and her husband who own the Ger camp in Khatgal.

We arrived at the river at about 10. It took me an hour or so to get packed up and we were off.


It all fits!

The 1st day went very well, and my expectations were good of what the river had to offer. Boy, was I in for a surprise!



That tree leaning out over the water was a sign of trouble to come!



Some of the 60 Million animals in Mongolia.

July 3rdd Wednesday day 18 on the water:

What a day. On the water at 7, somewhat cloudy but not cold by any means. Didn’t sleep that good because I had changed the bed around and it didn’t work to well. I have a good sleeping bag I bought in Ulaan Baatar and 2 wool blankets. There is also the air mattress that I think is the best one I have had. The problem with the air mattress and the sleeping bag, is the bag slides around on the air mattress because it is, slick.

I have figured out to use one of the blankets on top of the air mattress and have doubled it and tie each corner to a tent stake I put up at the top of each corner of the air mattress thru the tent floor. That keeps the blanket from sliding around. Then I use the 2nd blanket and the sleeping bag as covers, by not crawling into the sleeping bag. Now why is that? Because Stormy refused to sleep or leave me alone if she can’t get under the covers and be touching me, normally down at the bottom, but she must be touching me. I don’t mind, if everything is in line.



Lots of water when it is all there and no channeling.

Now folks, you never hear me complain or make it hard on myself. But the 2nd day on the Eg has been a day to remember. It started out great but the river meanders and never slows down. It is a very fast-moving river. It will get into what I call the “marshes” and there will be various channels and who knows, I always pick the big water. I got into some channels today that were tough to maneuver and weren’t any wider than my kayak, with 90 degree turns both ways and that is almost impossible with this big kayak.

In addition, the gravel bars are tough to see and if the sun is in your face, impossible. Or if it is cloudy it is also almost impossible, but I have come close to figuring out the “channel” of the river and there can be several of them and they almost always have 2 gravel bars on each side as it meanders thru the prairies.



Once again, lots of water.

As the afternoon went by, it became clear that this was probably going to become the norm for the river, although it is getting better, wider and more water. That would make sense. I have to idea what to expect but just must take it as far as I can see it, and make sure I am on the inside for the turns, so I can react and stay out of the fast water.

We took 3 breaks today, 1 at 9, 1 at 11 and 1 at 1:30. I left my life jacket laying on the bank at the 11 break. Didn’t realize I didn’t have it on until 1:30. I was and still am devastated. This is not a river you should be on without a life jacket. I thought about walking back to get it, but I would have been 8 or 10 miles one way, a 2-day ordeal.

Very stressed about it and not happy. This is becoming in my opinion a very dangerous river and not to be on without a life jacket and have it on. Over the years, I have not worn a life jacket all the time. I normally don’t on the lakes, no need to unless I am crossing open water. On the rivers, because my kayak is a Feathercraft, it is almost impossible for it to turn over and I am normally on big water rivers. The Missouri, the Mississippi, the Yellowstone, the Yukon, rivers that just flow, no white water.

Now, how am I going to replace that life jacket sooner than later. I am hoping to run on to another fish camp that is using boats. The next town is a good 5 days away, not far off the river, so that is an option. The town I cross the border at is a long way, but if I must, I have to make it without a life jacket. For sure I can locate one in Ulan Ude, but that also is a long way.

In addition, we just went thru the hardest thunderstorm, rain and hail the size of peas I have ever been thru on the water and you got it, I saw it coming, stopped, got the tent set up and we are right out in the open. This tipi Red Canyon tent held up and every other tent I have ever had would have been lying flat on the ground.

It literally blew the rain right thru the rain cover and of course the mosquito netting is porous. What an experience.



This picture may look pretty and all of that. But when the worst thunderstorm, lightening, hail, rain and wind hit us it was completely the wrong place to be out in the open. Huge mistake for me to pick this spot when I saw it coming. I should have stopped sooner.

The storm is over, and our day is just about over. I plan on being on the water by 7 or before. I plan on doing a minimum of 8 hours on the water after breaks and maybe 10. I just reread some information I have about the Eg and it is 300 miles from the lake to the Selenga, not the 240 I thought. That is at least 2 more days on this river. Now I do think I don’t have as many miles to do on the Selenga as I original thought, about half I think, so that more than evens out.

My attitude on the water without the life jacket on will be much more acutely aware. I am concerned.



Defending their nest from Stormy.



July 4th Thursday day 19 on the water:

We were off by 7. I was very apprehensive, not the way I like to feel on the water on a trip like this. This is very remote and no roads, so no herders’ camps along the way. Nobody.

We had a terrible couple of hours of small channels, lots of brush, willows and small trees leaning over the outside edge of the water and it was difficult to stay out of them. It was turning into to a very stressful situation.

I came around one bend in the last channel we were to be in and here was a tree/log complete across the water, at exactly the bend in the river. I ran the front of the kayak on up into the rift raft as hard and as far as I can and all of that happened in 2 seconds. There we were pushed up against the log. It was raining. I immediately got out of the kayak and straddled the log. I was confident the kayak wasn’t going to be pushed up under the log, the current fortunately wasn’t that strong and with 210 lbs out of the kayak it made a huge difference.



NOT A PRETTY PICTURE FOR ME!

Once I inched my way back to the back of the kayak, I with a lot of effort got the rudder out of its holder because I knew the kayak wasn’t going to be pulled backwards with the water pushing against the rudder. Once I accomplished that, I grabbed the rope I keep tethered to the back of the kayak, one on the front as well, and continued to push myself along the top of the log/tree to get to the other side. Once there, I got at an angle as much as I could by standing as far out into the current as I could, tugged on the kayak and it just floated effortlessly to me, to the other side.

With that done, got Stormy out and sat down and heated up some left-over dinner, some tuna fish and noodles. It is still raining and Stormy is not happy, because I had her cover on. Once done eating, then I unloaded the entire kayak, pulled up out of the water, around the butt end of the log and put everything back in.

Once we took off, we continued to fight the overhanging trees and that was it for me. I made the decision that as the sight of the 1st Herder’s cabin/Ger/camp I was going to find a ride.

I finally came out into the open, out of the channel into the main river, rounded a bend and it opened and there was a valley with a good half dozen Herder places in it. That was enough for me.

The 1st place I walked up to, after about an hour of hand signals and showing them my in Reach map, the finally understood what I needed, and we agreed up on a price and 3 hours later we were on our way to town. One of their daughters, a sweetheart spoke some English and she really helped things out immensely.



The Herder's family that drove me to town.

The ride took 4 hours on one of the worst roads/trails I have ever been on. I didn’t realize how deep I was down in the valley until we had to drive up and over the mountains and down the other side to town.



What a great little girl she was!



No running water. No sewer, no bathrooms.



The bathroom for the Hotel!

Once to town, we got lucky and ran into the little girl’s English teacher at the school. Her parents owned a hotel, such as it was, and I got a room for what I thought was going to be 2 nights. I got my gear dried out, packed up, got some data for my phone for a Hot Spot which I had not had previously, don’t ask me why not.

Then I made a phone call to John, the Vietnam vet who has lived in Mongolia for years and he got me in touch with a lady in Muron, the town where I got the replacement filler for the tooth that cracked and came out. Long ways away, about 5 hours’ drive to where I was. She found a driver and he was, she thought going to be there about noon on Friday. Not cheap, but I had no choice and had made up my mind.

July 5th Friday a day off the water:


I used up all the data last night I had purchased. We slept fairly well. I went and got some more data, twice as much this time. I hoped the driver would be there by noon. He didn’t show up until about 9. We loaded up and we left at 10. I was beat. He had to be.



This is my favorite picture so far!

We drove out of town until 1 and stopped, set up our tents and went to sleep.



As good as place as any to get some sleep.

July 6th Saturday a day off the water:

We were up and on the road/trail again at 7. I have never in my life seen such bad unforgiving roads in my life.

We finally made it to the pavement at about 11 and we were at the Russian Border at 7 that evening. I got lucky again. The Mongolian border guards wouldn’t let the drive with his vehicle cross out of Mongolia. A guy, Mongolian approached me and gestured could he help me. We finally agreed on a price, he obviously had done this before, we put the kayak on top of his rig, all the gear in his car and with his wife and one child in tow proceed out of Mongolia and into the beginnings of a 5 hours Russian border crossing experience.



See the Russian Guard Tower?

No need for all the details, but the Russian border guards are very serious and unforgiving. There was a mile of cars, but fortunately we had somehow beat the rush and finally got thru. Then a woman came out and had me come inside with her and a supervisor and her, along with me answering questions, determined that Stormy was legit, I had the right paperwork, she stamped it and we were on our way. Both the Mongolian and Russian Border Security teams have this thing in their heads that one needs a “dog passport” and there is no such thing.

They know that. It cost me $375 to get Stormy across the border. Bribe, payment who knows, but that was good enough for me.

Once we found a tourist hotel, they dropped me off and hopefully will be back Monday at noon to take me down to the Selenga River which is about 30 miles West of town. That should give me enough time Monday Morning to go get some Russian Rubbles, get a Russian Cell Company simm card in my phone and on my way.

Needless to say, both Stormy and I were absolutely beat by the time we laid down after I showered and shaved at about 1 AM.

July 7th Sunday a day off the water:

Slept in for me until about 7. It is about 10:30. I already have gone thru and repacked all the gear. Had some cereal for breakfast. Did some work on the kayak, been on the computer and will be done with pretty much all I have to do to be ready to get back on the water.



Russia for sure.