The Eg River – The Drive Up Out of the River Canyon-
The Two Days in Erdeinbougane-The Drive to the Russian Border-
Two Days at the Hotel Before Putting on the Selenga River
The Eg River (Mongolian: Эгийн гол, Egiin gol ) is a river in the Khövsgöl and Bulgan aimags in northern Mongolia. It is the only outflow of Lake Khövsgöl and a tributary of the Selenge river. Wooden bridges exist near Khatgal and in Tünel sum, and a concrete bridge has been built in Erdenebulgan. In Bulgan aimag there is a bridge between Teshig and Khutag-Öndör sums. Since the early 1990s there have been efforts to build a hydroelectric dam on this river. These attempts, however, have been opposed by several academic communities: archaeology because of the rich and not yet fully explored archaeological sites in area; geology because the area may have earthquakes. A dam would also displace parts of the local population as it floods some pastures and homesteads.
July 1 Monday day 18 at the Ger camp:Finished packing all the gear and food and did a trial run packing the kayak. I am taking twice as much food as I ever have and twice as much dog food. I made a mistake on calculating the amount of river miles I will have to do on the Selenga, which now is around 200 miles, not 420. 420 miles is the entire length of the Selenga, I am hitting it somewhere over halfway. That really helps me on my “lost 2 weeks” waiting for the ice to go off the lake.
I have done some one the tabletop book and sent the beginnings to Julie in Napa to start to come up with the lay out. I also got Journal #3, #4 and #5 posted. Having some issues with the Journal section of my website. I am hoping James can figure it out because we have spent a lot of time to make it simple. Not the case yet. But they are good enough. My plan is to leave the Ger camp about 9 AM and get to the river within a half an hour, get the kayak loaded up and hit the river.
I met a couple that had been living in Edmonton, Canada from the states, moving the Salt Lake City. They have been riding bikes along the Eg and say it is a beautiful river, smooth running. I don’t expect any issues at all. Boy was I mistaken on that statement as one will see when the time comes.
July 2nd Tuesday day 17 on the water:
We were up again early, showered and shaved here at the Ger camp by 5:30 AM. I made sure all the gear was ready to go, went for our usual morning walk when we can and just had to be patient. Paid my bill, walked to the bank and got a few more Mongolian monies out of the ATM. The driver who was going to take me about 30 Kilometers down river showed up at the time of 9:00 AM. After saying the goodbyes, we were on our way.
Dawa and her husband who own the Ger camp in Khatgal.
We arrived at the river at about 10. It took me an hour or so to get packed up and we were off.
It all fits!
The 1st day went very well, and my expectations were good of what the river had to offer. Boy, was I in for a surprise!
That tree leaning out over the water was a sign of trouble to come!
Some of the 60 Million animals in Mongolia.
July 3rdd Wednesday day 18 on the water:What a day. On the water at 7, somewhat cloudy but not cold by any means. Didn’t sleep that good because I had changed the bed around and it didn’t work to well. I have a good sleeping bag I bought in Ulaan Baatar and 2 wool blankets. There is also the air mattress that I think is the best one I have had. The problem with the air mattress and the sleeping bag, is the bag slides around on the air mattress because it is, slick.
I have figured out to use one of the blankets on top of the air mattress and have doubled it and tie each corner to a tent stake I put up at the top of each corner of the air mattress thru the tent floor. That keeps the blanket from sliding around. Then I use the 2nd blanket and the sleeping bag as covers, by not crawling into the sleeping bag. Now why is that? Because Stormy refused to sleep or leave me alone if she can’t get under the covers and be touching me, normally down at the bottom, but she must be touching me. I don’t mind, if everything is in line.
Lots of water when it is all there and no channeling.
Now folks, you never hear me complain or make it hard on myself. But the 2nd day on the Eg has been a day to remember. It started out great but the river meanders and never slows down. It is a very fast-moving river. It will get into what I call the “marshes” and there will be various channels and who knows, I always pick the big water. I got into some channels today that were tough to maneuver and weren’t any wider than my kayak, with 90 degree turns both ways and that is almost impossible with this big kayak.
In addition, the gravel bars are tough to see and if the sun is in your face, impossible. Or if it is cloudy it is also almost impossible, but I have come close to figuring out the “channel” of the river and there can be several of them and they almost always have 2 gravel bars on each side as it meanders thru the prairies.
Once again, lots of water.
As the afternoon went by, it became clear that this was probably going to become the norm for the river, although it is getting better, wider and more water. That would make sense. I have to idea what to expect but just must take it as far as I can see it, and make sure I am on the inside for the turns, so I can react and stay out of the fast water.
We took 3 breaks today, 1 at 9, 1 at 11 and 1 at 1:30. I left my life jacket laying on the bank at the 11 break. Didn’t realize I didn’t have it on until 1:30. I was and still am devastated. This is not a river you should be on without a life jacket. I thought about walking back to get it, but I would have been 8 or 10 miles one way, a 2-day ordeal.
Very stressed about it and not happy. This is becoming in my opinion a very dangerous river and not to be on without a life jacket and have it on. Over the years, I have not worn a life jacket all the time. I normally don’t on the lakes, no need to unless I am crossing open water. On the rivers, because my kayak is a Feathercraft, it is almost impossible for it to turn over and I am normally on big water rivers. The Missouri, the Mississippi, the Yellowstone, the Yukon, rivers that just flow, no white water.
Now, how am I going to replace that life jacket sooner than later. I am hoping to run on to another fish camp that is using boats. The next town is a good 5 days away, not far off the river, so that is an option. The town I cross the border at is a long way, but if I must, I have to make it without a life jacket. For sure I can locate one in Ulan Ude, but that also is a long way.
In addition, we just went thru the hardest thunderstorm, rain and hail the size of peas I have ever been thru on the water and you got it, I saw it coming, stopped, got the tent set up and we are right out in the open. This tipi Red Canyon tent held up and every other tent I have ever had would have been lying flat on the ground.
It literally blew the rain right thru the rain cover and of course the mosquito netting is porous. What an experience.
This picture may look pretty and all of that. But when the worst thunderstorm, lightening, hail, rain and wind hit us it was completely the wrong place to be out in the open. Huge mistake for me to pick this spot when I saw it coming. I should have stopped sooner.
The storm is over, and our day is just about over. I plan on being on the water by 7 or before. I plan on doing a minimum of 8 hours on the water after breaks and maybe 10. I just reread some information I have about the Eg and it is 300 miles from the lake to the Selenga, not the 240 I thought. That is at least 2 more days on this river. Now I do think I don’t have as many miles to do on the Selenga as I original thought, about half I think, so that more than evens out.
My attitude on the water without the life jacket on will be much more acutely aware. I am concerned.
Defending their nest from Stormy.
July 4th Thursday day 19 on the water:We were off by 7. I was very apprehensive, not the way I like to feel on the water on a trip like this. This is very remote and no roads, so no herders’ camps along the way. Nobody.
We had a terrible couple of hours of small channels, lots of brush, willows and small trees leaning over the outside edge of the water and it was difficult to stay out of them. It was turning into to a very stressful situation.
I came around one bend in the last channel we were to be in and here was a tree/log complete across the water, at exactly the bend in the river. I ran the front of the kayak on up into the rift raft as hard and as far as I can and all of that happened in 2 seconds. There we were pushed up against the log. It was raining. I immediately got out of the kayak and straddled the log. I was confident the kayak wasn’t going to be pushed up under the log, the current fortunately wasn’t that strong and with 210 lbs out of the kayak it made a huge difference.
NOT A PRETTY PICTURE FOR ME!
Once I inched my way back to the back of the kayak, I with a lot of effort got the rudder out of its holder because I knew the kayak wasn’t going to be pulled backwards with the water pushing against the rudder. Once I accomplished that, I grabbed the rope I keep tethered to the back of the kayak, one on the front as well, and continued to push myself along the top of the log/tree to get to the other side. Once there, I got at an angle as much as I could by standing as far out into the current as I could, tugged on the kayak and it just floated effortlessly to me, to the other side.
With that done, got Stormy out and sat down and heated up some left-over dinner, some tuna fish and noodles. It is still raining and Stormy is not happy, because I had her cover on. Once done eating, then I unloaded the entire kayak, pulled up out of the water, around the butt end of the log and put everything back in.
Once we took off, we continued to fight the overhanging trees and that was it for me. I made the decision that as the sight of the 1st Herder’s cabin/Ger/camp I was going to find a ride.
I finally came out into the open, out of the channel into the main river, rounded a bend and it opened and there was a valley with a good half dozen Herder places in it. That was enough for me.
The 1st place I walked up to, after about an hour of hand signals and showing them my in Reach map, the finally understood what I needed, and we agreed up on a price and 3 hours later we were on our way to town. One of their daughters, a sweetheart spoke some English and she really helped things out immensely.
The Herder's family that drove me to town.
The ride took 4 hours on one of the worst roads/trails I have ever been on. I didn’t realize how deep I was down in the valley until we had to drive up and over the mountains and down the other side to town.
What a great little girl she was!
No running water. No sewer, no bathrooms.
The bathroom for the Hotel!
Once to town, we got lucky and ran into the little girl’s English teacher at the school. Her parents owned a hotel, such as it was, and I got a room for what I thought was going to be 2 nights. I got my gear dried out, packed up, got some data for my phone for a Hot Spot which I had not had previously, don’t ask me why not.
Then I made a phone call to John, the Vietnam vet who has lived in Mongolia for years and he got me in touch with a lady in Muron, the town where I got the replacement filler for the tooth that cracked and came out. Long ways away, about 5 hours’ drive to where I was. She found a driver and he was, she thought going to be there about noon on Friday. Not cheap, but I had no choice and had made up my mind.
July 5th Friday a day off the water:
I used up all the data last night I had purchased. We slept fairly well. I went and got some more data, twice as much this time. I hoped the driver would be there by noon. He didn’t show up until about 9. We loaded up and we left at 10. I was beat. He had to be.
This is my favorite picture so far!
We drove out of town until 1 and stopped, set up our tents and went to sleep.
As good as place as any to get some sleep.
July 6th Saturday a day off the water:We were up and on the road/trail again at 7. I have never in my life seen such bad unforgiving roads in my life.
We finally made it to the pavement at about 11 and we were at the Russian Border at 7 that evening. I got lucky again. The Mongolian border guards wouldn’t let the drive with his vehicle cross out of Mongolia. A guy, Mongolian approached me and gestured could he help me. We finally agreed on a price, he obviously had done this before, we put the kayak on top of his rig, all the gear in his car and with his wife and one child in tow proceed out of Mongolia and into the beginnings of a 5 hours Russian border crossing experience.
See the Russian Guard Tower?
No need for all the details, but the Russian border guards are very serious and unforgiving. There was a mile of cars, but fortunately we had somehow beat the rush and finally got thru. Then a woman came out and had me come inside with her and a supervisor and her, along with me answering questions, determined that Stormy was legit, I had the right paperwork, she stamped it and we were on our way. Both the Mongolian and Russian Border Security teams have this thing in their heads that one needs a “dog passport” and there is no such thing.
They know that. It cost me $375 to get Stormy across the border. Bribe, payment who knows, but that was good enough for me.
Once we found a tourist hotel, they dropped me off and hopefully will be back Monday at noon to take me down to the Selenga River which is about 30 miles West of town. That should give me enough time Monday Morning to go get some Russian Rubbles, get a Russian Cell Company simm card in my phone and on my way.
Needless to say, both Stormy and I were absolutely beat by the time we laid down after I showered and shaved at about 1 AM.
July 7th Sunday a day off the water:Slept in for me until about 7. It is about 10:30. I already have gone thru and repacked all the gear. Had some cereal for breakfast. Did some work on the kayak, been on the computer and will be done with pretty much all I have to do to be ready to get back on the water.
Russia for sure.