Monday, June 8: near Khorgo Volcano, Mongolia
6:00 I awake to the sound of Neill kicking open the door of the truck. He slept inside the truck last night and the door is apparently frozen shut.
6:30 I’m up and the tent is down.
8:50 We come to the first of several rivers that we will cross today. We lay sand mats on the wettest portion of the road and Rachel guns it through. She misses the mats completely but makes it to solid ground without any issues. We’re told that it’s going to be a rough ride for the next few hours.
9:15 Neill, Bayaraa and Amaraa get out to check the Toin River. The river bed is solid so Neill decides to give it a go. We make it through on the first run. And that’s a good thing as I’m pretty sure you only get one shot at these things before all Hell breaks loose.
9:45 We are at the end of Tsagaan Lake and must climb a fairly steep and rocky road before we enter the next valley. We get stuck once but eventually make it over with only a 20 minute delay.
10:39 We’ve travelled about 30 km in three hours.
13:30 We use an abandoned cabin as a wind break while we set up for lunch. The guy who runs his herd on this land shows up and is curious but not very talkative. We give him some soup and he eats in silence, even when spoken to in Mongolian by our guides.
13:40 I’m in charge of keeping our jerry cans full of water and the back locker full of firewood. There’s not much firewood here but I get three cans of water from a nearby river.
15:30 We stop to do some grocery shopping in the town of Jargalant. (Translation: Happy Place). The stores only have the basics like shovels, tampons, boot black, vodka, salami, eggs, and carrots. All of those items are displayed on one shelf.
17:05 The people in the rear seats feel the truck tip to the right yet we haven’t gone through a rut. Rachel is driving and can tell something is wrong.
17:15 It’s determined that we have a broken rear torsion bar support bracket. On top of this, it did some damage to the hand break when it snapped. Neill decides to stop where we are and camp for the night. We have a spare hand break but the support bracket will have to be welded and that’s another issue altogether.
17:30 Two boys come by on a motor bike. They don’t understand what welding is but they promise to fetch their older brother.
18:00 The boys’ father shows up and a van is arranged to drive Rahcel, Bayaraa and the broken part into the town of Shine-Ider. The rest of us cook dinner, get the tents up, and a fire going.
19:10 I hear the now familiar sound of a bottle of vodka being opened. #Vodka=warmth.
9:30 Neill walks to the top of a large hill in search of a cell signal.
22:30 Neill returns to report that he couldn’t connect so he walked to a distant yurt and used their satellite phone. Rachel and Bayaraa are on their way back with the welded part.
23:40 Rachel and Bayaraa return after a successful mission. I’m in bed but I hear Neill working on the truck. This could have been left until the morning but Neill is a former marine (The Netherlands) and he likes to keep to a schedule. You can’t fault a man for that!