On our second day, we went in the opposite direction to see if we would have some better luck finding our prey. We climbed the mountain directly behind the hunting lodge and then crested the summit. At the top the landscape looked somewhat different from the mountains that we had climbed in the south the day before. Well, actually, the horses did all the climbing LOL. The weather was better than yesterday; the sun was out and shining brightly. Dalaihan said that the sun would bring the animals out.
At the top of the first mountain we looked down into a bowl-shaped valley and it reminded me of some of the craters on the moon. The entire landscape was devoid of any plant life except for some yellow grass that poked up through the snow here and there. Large rocks were strewn about and I pictured the battery-powered moon buggy racing across the barren landscape.
As we crossed the crater valley and came up the other side, I saw that there was a man, sitting in the snow, all by himself. He was just sitting there as if at a bus stop. As cold as I was, I couldn’t imagine anyone just sitting out here. Baatar and Dalaihan rode ahead to meet the man and began talking with him. When I inquired as to his identity, they said that he was a neighbor and that he was watching his flock. I looked around and I didn’t see any flock. I guess the animals have a large roaming area. The man agreed to help us “scare up” some rabbits and fox. He walked around the left side of the hill in order to “flank” the back side of the mountain and move any rabbits that might be out on this sunny day.
We continued climbing the hill and I admired the beautiful landscape. I saw some more red lichens and remembered to get a photo of them. I noticed that the rocks and pebbles seemed to have so many colors of black and brown, blue, grey, tan, white, and so many other natural shades of color. My polarized sun glasses cut down the glare and really brought out the colors of the rocks and grass sticking up out of the fresh layers of snow. I wished that I had my SLR camera and its polarized lenses so that I could more accurately capture the beauty of this land. My little “deck of cards sized” camera just wasn’t up to the task. At least with the sun out the camera won’t have a problem with the white balance. But, the glare really seemed to confuse the processor. As I look at the photos on the computer, they just aren’t close to what I saw with the naked eye. But take my word for it, the scenery was spectacular.
We had not seen any rabbit or fox and after we crested 2 or 3 more mountains we stopped to take a break. The mountain peak provided wide vistas and stunning landscape. I took a moment to capture some photos and breathe the fresh cold air.
My riding ability increased by the second day and I was climbing on and off of my horse with ease and shooting photos while mounted. Many times, I would stop my horse to shoot a photo and just as I was about to take a photo, my horse would squirm. Part of Alpamys’ duties were to make sure that the group stayed together and he often “herded” my horse along. I later figured out that as Alpamys came up behind me, my horse thought that he was going to get swatted and would start to walk again blurring my shot.
At the top of one mountain the terrain looked particularly rough. There were jagged rocks that stuck up through the snow and I was sure that my horse would have trouble walking across the icy rocks. But as sure as he had walked in the past, he went right over the rocks and ice with ease. He continually amazed me with his ability to hold his footing in this difficult terrain.
After a few hours of hunting, we came to a rather large mountain. We climbed about three quarters of the way to the top and then cut towards the left constantly watching downhill for prey. Dalaihan was about ten feet ahead of me when the eagle flexed and tried to fly. He looked about the same as a dog that has just spotted a cat, he crouched, his wings came up, his head shot forward as he starred down the hill, and the feathers on the back of his neck shot straight out.
Dalaihan instinctively let him go and he soared down the hill hugging its contours. I was quite excited and yelled to Baatar who was behind me that the eagle was flying. He yelled shouted back, “What is he going for, do you see anything?” We watched and when the eagle was about 300 meters from us, I saw it, a huge rabbit. This rabbit was massive; it looked to be the size of a small dog. It ran from the left to the right about 20 yards and then stopped. It was too far away for me to see which way it was looking, but I guessed that it was looking up at the massive eagle that was descending on it…
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