August 9: Tovkhon Sum Monastery

The vistas on the way were typically beautiful; wildlife included eagles, hawks, and yaks as well as sheep, goats, and horses, with camels becoming more rare.

When the birds flew overhead, we could hear the wonderful sound of their wings flapping.

After camping on a hillside that was beautiful but a little too sloped, for which we compensated by making s'mores. Edelweiss abounded; it is the national flower of Mongolia.

We visited Tovkhon Sum, a small, remote, mountain-top monastery, via trails through woods filled with wildflowers.

Zanabazar, a very prominent early Buddhist lama, artist, and scholar, founded this monastery in 1653 and lived here in seclusion in one of its many caves for 30 years. Here he developed an alphabet that includes the soyombo, the symbol on the Mongolian flag.

The views were worth the difficulty of the climb (on foot and horseback).

Some other visitors lent us their del (silk coats with sashes, traditional Mongolian attire and still widely worn) for pictures.

Dana, Ursie, and Fran chose to take advantage of the re-birthing cave to become once more as innocent as newborns.