Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Did we get lost on the way to Tsetseguun.......

Today we have a guest blogger -- my first! It's Chuck Howell of USAID here in UB. Chuck organized last weekend's hike and wrote about it for the Nomad News, the embassy community's newsletter. With Chuck's kind permission, I'm republishing his article here. And, before you ask, yes there were two Al(l)lysons on the hike: Mine (Allyson) and the "new" Alyson (aka One L).

Did we get lost on the way to Tsetseguun.......

Or was it a clever ruse? Should we have taken the turn to the left instead of the right? You may ask how Tumi, Chuck, and Michelle -- all of whom have hiked Tsetseguun several times could have taken a wrong turn on the busiest and best marked trail in Boghdan National Park? Or was it a planned wrong turn in order to give a real experience of hiking in the forest? Either way, our group, that in included not only the above three but also first time Mongolia hikers, Allyson A, Matthew, Alyson M, and Carrie (friend of Michelle's), experienced a truly great hike and first exposure to the great natural beauty of Mongolia.

Regardless, we found a new way to walk within 20 -25 minutes of the summit without running into other hikers or noise other than our own. Granted, there were more rock outcrops to negotiate and more bogs with hidden holes to avoid, but in general it was a good test for us.

The hike to Tsetseguun on the regular trail takes almost two hours. At the two hour mark on our hike, we were unsure whether we should hike to the left or right to find the trail. So we took a lunch break while Tumi climbed a couple of levels of a nearby rock hill to determine our location. We knew we were close to the summit, but which way to go was the question. Tumi was able to get to the top of the rock hill for a remarkable vista looking north and east. He also saw Tsetseguun and upon his return, we headed in the direction of gradual left. After about 10 minutes we came to the main path. At that point we were about 5 minutes from the plateau and 20 from the summit. Alyson and I hiked another 12 minutes north to a vista point on the plateau while the rest of our intrepid group headed down, or south, on the marked path.

On the way down we were passed by groups and groups of people headed to Tsetseguun -- more people than we had ever seen on the mountain. They were having a great hike up and looking forward to celebrating at the summit.

Tsetseguun is always a great hike whether you make the left turn that is marked or go the path less taken -- just be sure, if you take the path less traveled, you also go with Tumi. The other tip is to depart Ulaanbaatar so you can be at the trail head by 9am at the latest because of the buses and groups that start around 10am.