LAT 48.682500 LONG 88.209444
I woke before sunrise to a faint, early morning moon suspended pearl-like above the lake, followed by a sensational sunrise. Despite the early rise, a short but heavy downpour forced us to spend a couple more hours inside the tent, cocooned in our sleepingbags.
We met a group of Kazakh women and children as we walked away from the campground - they invited us in for tea but we were keen to get going as it was already mid-morning. We took some photos and exchanged names so that we could connect on Facebook and share them.
We started our first more rigorous stretch of walking today with some hills offering a welcomed challenge. It was just the right combination of warm sun and cool breeze for it too.
At the northern end of the lake, where the river flows into it from the mountain glaciers, we crossed another long wooden bridge that took us almost directly to the second ranger's station. While he casually looked at our permits and passports, the ranger pointed up river and asked ‘Tavan Bogd?’. We nodded as he signalled for us to stay close to the west side of the milky white river, carrying sediment from the top of the glacier.
We walked upstream with the river on our right through the boggy, darker, more muddy terrain on a clearly visible path. We met a group of hikers who were doing a one-day hike around the lake with a guide that went ahead of them on a horse - this section is a fairly well-trodden path clearly used by herders as well as hikers.
Further north we left the river on one side as we started to climb steadily up a large rocky outcrop fringed abundantly with juniper bushes and followed the clear path along the rocky ridge of a gorge.
With the added elevation came impressive views of the lake on one side and snow-peaked mountain tops in the distance on the other. It did not matter where we looked, the views were magnificent.
We left the wide open space of the valley to go into a gorge where the valley deepens and starts to ascend into the mountains.
We camped beside the fast-moving river, loud and powerful, at a spot that had been used as a campsite before; firewood was left stacked on one side for us to find. We made sure we did the same and left a small stack of firewood with plenty of kindling for someone else to find.
Meals are so enjoyable on a hike. We had a hearty dinner of 2-minute noodles, miso soup, dried fruit, peanuts and coffee while enjoying the warmth of the fire and the sound of the river roaring past.