Ever since I was young I wanted to be a cowboy. Not a real cowboy, that’s a lot of work. But, the romanticized version of a cowboy- riding free, off into the sunset, cooking by the fire and roaming the frontier. That is what I dreamed of. The problem is, it doesn’t really exist anymore. Life is tricky for the modern wanderer. There is no more ‘frontier’ to ride your horse across, no more open, uninterrupted land for days on end. Instead, there is private properties, highways, protected areas, farms, and fences. Except, of course, in Mongolia. Land of the Nomads! Once out of the few and far between cities, the land is vast and inviting.
We rode about six hours a day, averaging around twenty five kilometers each. We followed rivers, dirt roads, forest trials, or whatever the horse’s fancy. We generally camped beside Nomadic families for the evenings. We would ride up to a gehr (yurt) and ask in shaky Mongolian, but confident charades, if we could stay the night. The answer was always “yes, no problem”. For us, it was nice to camp with Nomads for a number of reasons; we could truly experience Nomadic culture, gather local information, share food and drink, and our horses and gear were safe from opportunistic thieves that might happen by in the night. We showed each other photos, helped wrangle sheep, goats, yaks, cows, camels and horses, then helped milk said animals. It was fun, humbling and delicious work.
Denis at Nomad Nutrition is always nice enough to support my expeditions with a little much needed nutritious goodness. I was amazed when he helped my team up Mt. Logan by providing food for our summit push! Turns out, in Mongolia, between the Kathmandu Curry, Indian Red Lentil Stew, Hungarian Goulash, and Irish Shepherd’s Pie I would get more plant-based nutrition then the average Nomad gets all year.
After five weeks of exploring Mongolia by horseback we had to pack it in and wake up from my boyhood dream. But the adventure wasn’t over. A quick stint out to the Western mountains, then down to the Gobi Desert rounded off the trip well. We started on horses, ended on camels, and had an incredible time seeing and experiencing life from a Nomad’s perspective. They’ve got it right; take care of your animals, eat healthy, and move with the seasons.