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The Stunning Adventures "Not all those who wander are lost." Tolkien

Yolyn Am and Khongoryn Els

MONGOLIA | Sunday, 22 July 2007 | Views [986]

Yolyn Am

Yolyn Am

We all awoke this morning quite excited about the destinations we were headed for.  The first stop of the day would be at Yolyn Am which is a beautiful lush green valley that twists and turns between steep rocky mountains.  During most of the year, this valley is covered with ice and we were told that there would still be ice for us to see during our visit.  We would soon find out.  Upon exiting the van, we all realized that the tempurature had dropped significantly since we started off that morning.  We took this as a good sign in reference to our "ice valley".  After walking just a short distance into the valley, we were overwhelmed by how beautiful the mountains and plant life were.  The place had a fantastical feel to it, and you could almost picture little fairies flitting amongst the wild flowers.  The two of us hung back from the rest our little group as we were oogling over lots of different little living things.  There were hundreds, probably thousands of these hamster looking, or large mouse looking creatures that also had really big almost human looking ears.  They were quite cute, and the way they darted from place to place evoking a feeling of utter fear and terror that someone or something was just waiting to swoop them up, was quite humorous.  We nicknamed them "chubbers" because we had no idea what they were called.  So we were checking out these little guys, and taking in the surroundings, when Greg spotted some movement quite high up on of the mountaintops.  It turned out to be a little group of wild mountain goats that we chilled out and watched for a good chunk of time.  So we kept twisting and turning, and plodding contentedly along when we came upon a large piece of ice that was about 6 feet by 3 feet...aha...we must be getting closer.  We made our way into a little clearing that held a number of different herbs.  The lovely scent was so strong, that you just wanted to keep taking nice deep breaths.  Elizabeth plucked 5 or 6 different ones and placed them in her jacket pocket.  Eventually, we made our way to the end of the valley, and yes, there was no more ice.  We had seen the ice valley...all six feet of it.  Pretty hilarious, but at the same time, we had somewhat anticpated this outcome due to the time of year.  Regardless, the valley was so beautiful that we didn't seem to care either way.

We picked up a local man who needed a lift, and Elizabeth brought out the "herbs" to show him.  He told us the names of each one as he immediately recognized them, and used gestures to show us the medicinal effects.  One was for diarrhea or constipation...we couldn't quite figure that one out. 

As the sun started to get lower and lower, we were wondering when we would get our first glimpses of Khongoryn Els; the great sand dunes all of us were so excited to see.  Slowly we saw them begin to trickle into view on our left, and they slowly grew larger and more immense.  So incredible. As the dunes grew to their largest, we pulled up next to several gers and stopped.  This is where we would get to stay the night.  While laying on our beds, we could look out our ger door and see the awesome, Tatooine-esque sand dunes. 

Tags: Mountains

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