Traveling in the Wilderness in Mongolia

“In wildness is the preservation of the world”

“In wildness is the preservation of the world”, this statement by Henry David Thereau made well over a hundred years ago, is a sentiment that we live by at Stone Horse. It is also the preservation of the soul, and in wilderness we seek out the healing powers that only the natural world in all its beauty can bring us. This is what we like to share with our guests. On our horseback riding expeditions in Mongolia, we like to give the people who ride with us the time to experience nature, wilderness, and the subtle yet soothing touch it brings to those who let it soak in. Just being in the wild, spending time traveling through the wild, one will always experience something that is exciting, sometimes mysterious, something that is thought provoking that you will take with you for the rest of your life. Something that is meaningful only to you. You only need to see it.

Wilderness – it’s going fast

horse riding in Mongolia, horse trekking in Mongolia
The Terelj River in the Gorkhi-Terelj National Park looks so similar to the Middle Fork river in Idaho, North America.

I would encourage anyone who wants to see nature in all its finest to get out now, this week, this month, and take the time to see and experience the wild we still have left on this planet. Habitat loss is the biggest contributor to the loss of wildlife species and biodiversity that we see today. Mongolia is no different than anywhere else. The wilderness here in Mongolia that we travel through is some of the finest on the planet that I have ever seen. And, I have been very fortunate to have seen a fair amount of it through my work and travels. It’s what I live for. Living and working in the American west as a wilderness river ranger, spending years living and working in the Antarctic for its protection, managing one of the largest wildlife sanctuaries in the world in the Sultanate of Oman and working in the National Parks of Sri Lanka, I’ve seen and experienced the most amazing animals and people. Yet, many of the places I saw as wild areas are no longer. Development, progress if you prefer, has taken their toll and the wild habitats that once were the home of many different types of animals and people, are gone. Something to ponder and work to reverse.

What does it mean to you?

What does wilderness mean to you? Is it something to be preserved? Developed? Does it mean anything at all? What can we take away from it that enriches our lives?

In corresponding with an old friend, Peter Laue, who is now long retired, he sent me a small story about his first solo wilderness travel. I include it here below. As a boy, and still today, he is a person I greatly admire. Peter was a sailor most of his life, a chief engineer and has traveled the world over the greatest wilderness we have, the oceans. Yet, this story is about his travels by foot in the mountains of Idaho in America, an area with very similar habitat and species to Mongolia. Having worked there as a wilderness ranger years ago, it struck me just how similar they really are. I view things from a purely naturalist scientific standpoint and find solace in natures ecological wonders, but this is Peter’s unique view, perhaps spiritual, and what he took away with him from his first solo trek in the mountain wilderness.

My first hike in the wilderness  – Peter Laue   1994

 It was my first hike in the wilderness and I was quite a novice.  New pack, too much gear and a concern about wild animals, and being by myself.

 The hike was along the Middle Fork of the Salmon river in Idaho.  Very few people hiked what was called a trail, everyone rafted the river, so I really had the place to myself.  I must admit I was concerned about wild animals and my sleeping by myself with no tent, or anything to ward off the denizens of the forest.It was the third night out because I remember the next day I was going back to the car.

I found a really nice place among some trees that I could rig a line between two of them and stake out the corners of my tarp to form a lean-to that I slept under.  Of course the front was open and I could look out at the forest. I remember I had crawled into the shelter early as I was really beat from the days hike and the concern over sleeping practically in the open.

I came alert as I heard this snuffing and slight dirt scraping. The noise came from a large deer with a beautiful pair of antlers. He was scratching the earth with his hooves and using his nose to push up a little pile of dirt. He looked at me and I looked back at him and we seemed to connect in some way. He moved off and then I heard the same noise in back of the lean-to and his antlers were hitting the plastic back of the lean-to.  He came back around in front, looked at me and walked off with several Doe. I was so tired both by exercise and concern over my lonely wilderness travel, I went to sleep.

In the morning I looked at what this marvelous wild animal had done and found on top of a little pile of dirt in front of the lean-to a 1977 penny and on top of a similar pile of dirt in back of the tent a 30-30 bullet shell.

I stopped being concerned over wild animals and haven’t been ever since. Maybe human beings, but not the animals. I have thought about the message he left me a thousand times and have come up with all sorts of scenarios. Was the holy spirit speaking to me through this beautiful animal that they are not the problem but maybe men like me were?

Do we seek power in money and will use violence to achieve it?      

Maybe peace, love and joy of life is not found in money and violence but in all things the holy spirit has given us. This is one of the greatest experiences of my life and I have had quite a few, but this did much to shape me as a man and gave me an understanding of life that is hard to explain. Possibly a peace about it, more than an understanding of it. My thoughts still go on about this, how marvelous is life and all its fascinating things.   

In wildness is the preservation of the world

Horseback riding in Mongolia, horse riding in Mongolia, wilderness horse riding in Mongolia
A Stone Horse expedition into the heart of the Gorkhi-Terelj NP and its wildest parts

Peter’s experience provoked his thoughts on wilderness, wildlife and our his spiritual connections with the natural world. With our national park and wilderness horseback expeditions in Mongolia we like to “leave only footprints and take only pictures“. But without exception, everyone who has traveled with us takes much more than that when they leave us. There is something, known and cherished only by them about their time traveling in the wild. It’s what nature, in all its beauty does to your soul. We can help you with that.