Posts Tagged ‘goodwinch’

Tug of the Land

25th August 2010 by Helen

Tuesday 24th August

After breakfast at the ger camp and Paul finishing off the repairs on the fuel tank we took part in one of our few ‘tourist’ activities – a camel ride.  We were led to an oasis, an island of lush green grass, pools of water and frogs nestling amongst the sand dunes, before heading back to the camp.  It took no more than an hour but my nether regions were declaring very loudly that an hour on a rock hard saddle was more than enough.  Coming back from the camel ride we were amazed to see the remains of a hedgehog run over on one of the sand tracks.  Of all the space here in Mongolia the hedgehog can still manage to get run over!!

Then it was off to the dunes with Landy.  Paul’s aim was to get in a bit of practice at dune driving, hopefully get stuck and have to dig ourselves out.  Goal achieved (the latter part taking about an hour) we headed back towards the ger camp and the main road to Dalandzagad where it is vital we get some internet access to order spare parts from Foundry 4×4 to be waiting for us at Ulaanbaatar.

Just a minute or two later, as we crested the brow of the first dune on our way back, we saw right in front of us a tractor struggling to pull a cart heavily laden with a packed up ger.  The cart is stuck in the sand, the wheels of the tractor are spinning in the sand, and the children of the family are frantically scrabbling at the sand in front of the cart’s wheels trying to help free the cart even as the tractor is pulling it.  The family’s dog and cat wander round

We stop and pull out our Dyneema rope provided by Goodwinch, hook it up to the cart and, with both us and the tractor pulling, help free the cart.

Then the tractor breaks down.  The men are desperately trying to restart the engine by hand.  Occasionally it fires and once or twice

Landy tows a tractor and a trailer over soft sand

Landy tows a tractor and a trailer over soft sand

 it even starts, only to stop again.  We’re not sure what we can do but we sit and wait.  Eventually it’s obvious there’s only one thing we can do.  Paul reverses Landy back over the sand, hooks up the Dyneema rope on to the front of the tractor.  Then, with Landy in low range gear, he slowly begins to reverse.  Landy’s own wheels are spinning in the loose sand, but the General Grabber AT2 tyres are able to get enough purchase to keep Landy moving.  The rope tightens and the tractor begins to move, just fast enough to for the tractor driver to bump start his engine.  A cheer goes up all round.

This surely has to be a headline: Land Rover Defender bump starts a tractor by towing in reverse on soft sand.

However it’s not over yet.  Paul pulls Landy forward as the tractor reverses back and hooks up to the cart.  Then, still in reverse, on soft sand, Landy pulls not only the tractor but the cart which contains a ger and all the family’s possessions, until they are free of the soft sand.

New headline: Land Rover Defender tows tractor and whole house!! 

(Did I mention we still have a dodgy water pump?)

Drama over it’s back on the road again to Dalandzadgad.

Campsite – just past Bayandalay

Distance travelled – 138 km

Landy to the rescue

20th August 2010 by Helen

Thursday 19th August

children with their yak drawn carts going to fetch another family ger

children with their yak drawn carts going to fetch another family ger

Just as we were getting our breakfast this morning, three yak drawn carts passed us, pulling up about five hundred yards ahead of us.  Someone moving house, the carts were heavily laden with the various parts of the ger and the family’s personal possessions.  About an hour later, ger set up, the children were riding the carts back to the former campsite while the adults followed on their small motorbikes, ready to get the next ger.

Once we were on the road again we found ourselves driving through a wide valley, the river Tuyn zig-zagging through the middle, with us criss-crossing back and forth over the river several times.  Most crossings were pretty shallow, only a foot or so deep, so no real river crossing challenges most of the time.

However one or two crossings were a bit deeper and at one we came across a

mini bus and passengers Landy winched out of the river

mini bus and passengers Landy winched out of the river

 mini-bus that had apparently dropped a wheel in a hole in the river bed.  Quite glad they’d done it before we got there so we could miss the hole ourselves!  Driving round them and reaching the other side we turned to face the mini bus, hooked up our dyneema winch rope provided by Goodwinch, and winched them out.  It was quite a job as not only were they well and truly stuck in the soft stony ground below the water but ten of the thirteen passengers were still on board.

Grateful for their rescue they gave us a bag of blackcurrants and another bag of dried cheese (both of which I am happy to eat so they are all mine!!).

some of the herd of yak separating Helen from Landy

some of the herd of yak separating Helen from Landy

At one point we came across a herd of yak right across the road.  Stopping back a bit I walked slowly into the herd until they were surrounding me.  Paul noticed that at first it was the females who approached me but they backed off as the males pushed their way forward, at which time Paul thought it might be prudent to edge forward ready to rescue me from any unwanted attentions!!

We found an ideal spot to camp for the night, nestled against a low outcrop of rock to one side of the valley, so we cooked the meat we’d bought in the market yesterday on an open campfire.

driving through the river this time

driving through the river this time

one of the wooden bridges we crossed

one of the wooden bridges we crossed

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Campsite – just past Erdenetsogt

Distance travelled – 122 km (total since leaving UK 13,190)

Stuck in the bog

17th August 2010 by Helen

Thursday 5th August

After a morning pottering around camp finishing off the domestics and giving Landy a shower, we made the mistake of trying to have a shower ourselves around lunchtime, intending to be ready to leave about 12.00 ish.  Good idea in principle but didn’t take into account the number of bike and horse riders that would stop for a coffee and a chat!!  And a peer in our tent!!  Some of them we had also seen yesterday, as they were going to work down on the marshes where they cut hay for the winter among the mozzies.

Still, by 4.30 we were ready and packed up and able to move on.  We tried to follow some directions we’d been given to detour past the marshland to the right hand side and on around the mountain. I say tried, because Paul had not yet got to grips with the sheer scale of this country and underestimated how far we would have to travel to circumnavigate the marsh.  Consequently we ended up in the wet and boggy marshland area after all.  Despite some heroic driving, against the backdrop of me visibly hanging on to anything I could grab on to and gasping loudly every other moment, eventually the inevitable happened and Paul dropped Landy’s rear driver side wheel in a large muddy hole up to the axle with the chassis resting on the surface of the ground.  At this point any off road drivers will be laughing their socks off.

Perhaps the most alarming aspect of being stuck was the variety and number of large biting insects that were swarming around Landy waiting for lunch.  Showing extreme bravery, we both jumped out into the clouds of furious little beasties, dressed like ninja warriors!

A first attempt at self recovery with the winch and ground anchor only saw the ground anchor slicing through the bog towards Landy.  By now we had a small crowd gathered around us, with much laughter and banter going on in Mongolian that we could not understand but interpreted to mean ‘what a pair of idiots, we told you to go round the boggy bit’.  All that coffee serving over the last couple of days was now paying off as every one of them we’d met before at our campsite.  Still, they got stuck in and helped dig Landy out from all angles, one horseman galloping off into the distance at one point to bring back a large rock weighing about 40 kilos on which to support the hi-lift jack!!  Finally, with half the bog dug away around each wheel, both bridging ladders employed, the ground anchor deployed with the winch and the hi-lift jack raising the axle from the rear we lurched forward and out of the muck.  So much for Landy’s shower (and ours for that matter).   We hadn’t had the chance, with so many experts around us, to employ the advice of David Bowyer from Goodwinch and make a pot of tea before starting to dig yourself out.  If we had, Paul thinks he might have preferred to dig around the rear of the stuck wheel (firmer ground) and reverse out.  Still, we’ll never know if that would have helped or not.

With darkness already showing signs of falling we got onto dry ground, around the bog and set up camp for the night, on a col between two mountains.  Despite appearing to have reached dry ground we found our campsite to be home to half the world’s mozzie population!!  Dressed like SAS troopers, armed with fly spray and swatters, we quickly headed into bed and the sanctuary of the mozzie netted tent.

Campsite – somewhere out in the middle of nowhere, way off the main road we’d previously been told to avoid as it’s closed (and reason for going near the bog in the first place), probably near Achit nuur, a large lake.

Distance travelled – 54 km (every one painful!)