After lunch at the lovely spot that ended the previous post, we drove higher into the mountains, up where there were forests of larch trees.
Many of them were a reddish color, which indicated that they were dead or dying of a beetle infestation. Very sad.
We came over a pass that had a very impressive ovoo.
As we came up into the trees, we found ourselves in a wonderland of wildflowers. To my surprise and delight, one of the most common was very familiar – fireweed. It is an introduced plant in the United States and I see it in bloom in many places near our house and along the roadside. Little did I know that there is a little bit of Mongolia in the neighborhood.
It was clearly the perfect time of year to see mountain wildflowers. I grabbed a lot of photos as we went by, but we also stopped a couple of times to get close-ups.
The flowers tapered off as we came down in elevation, where we passed this herd of horses.
Soon we were driving across a very large valley with a lot of rock outcroppings. Upon looking at them closely, I realized that I had seen something similar in Hawaii and Idaho- lava flows. It looked as if the entire valley had been filled to some unknown depth from an ancient volcanic eruption.
We finally approached the site of something that Mongolia isn’t particularly known for… a waterfall. The amount of water going over the edge is dependent on rainfall. Many people apparently go to the Orkhon Falls and are disappointed in how little water there is to see. We weren’t. One consequence of the rainfall that has been a part of this story from the time we were in the Gobi is that the falls were full and beautiful. It was pretty overcast, so we took a look and some photos and left to find a campsite.
Once again, good yak viewing from the comfort of our camp.
A couple of local herders came by to gather up their animals.
The next morning was bright and sunny, so we went back to the falls before departure and I got some lovely photos.
One can now see how deep the lava deposit is.
By an interesting coincidence, another Humboldt County artist friend was not only in Mongolia at the same time as me, but she and some other folks were on a canoe trip. On the Orkhon Gol. They were far downriver from where I was, to the north. The Orkhon Gol orginates in the Hangai Mountains and flows north, where it joins the Selenge Gol, which flows into Lake Baikal.
On our way out of the area of the falls, we saw two black kites sitting on fence posts.
Little did I know that this morning was the beginning of one of the most interesting, eventful and unexpected days of the entire trip.