Reed and I recently went to the Greenwich Grill in Tribeca which is an unusual mix of Japanese and Italian cooking. When you enter its set up a sushi bar but in the back room there’s a lovely Italian restaurant. I ordered the tasting menu which was hit and miss but my main course the chicken with bacon sauce which was spiked with garlic, lemon, and rosemary had a great combination of flavors. The bacon sauce also incorporated pine nuts and pine nuts always remind me of my first encounter with pine nuts in nature: Four years ago I met up with my friend Jenna in Moscow where we hopped on the Trans-Siberian Railroad bound for Beijing. During our stop over in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, we were excited to do some hiking after being cooped up in a small train compartment for four days .
Lonely Planet recommended an outfitter for hiking trips around the capital. They weren’t running any trips while we were in town but the expat who ran the place was happy to sell us a map and recommend some short hikes that would be suited for our fitness level, moderate to solid, and hiking experience, novice. We spent the rest of the afternoon exploring Ulaanbaatar’s markets looking for cashmere accessories and hiking supplies: gloves (its still pretty chilly in Mongolia in June), nuts, dried fruit, and bottled water but it was only a 3-4 hour hike so we weren’t worried but its always better to be prepared.
Early the next morning the driver we hired took us to an outlying area from which we were going hike back to Ulaanbaatar. As we drove out, I got a concerned at how long the drive was taking but I told myself it was slow going because the road was rough and winding. We planned to take a trail through the hills and forest to lead us to a nice hotel in the Ulaanbaatar suburbs where we’d have lunch before continuing on to the capital.
After we’d been hiking for two hours and were still far away from the hills that marked the half way point, I could tell that we were on a much longer hike than we’d planned. That’s when I realized we really should have held out for a map milage scale. We started to ration our water and really picked up our pace. Through the plains, forests and scrambling over rocky hill tops we kept up our pace. A month ago Jenna and I had hiked in and out of the Grand Canyon in an afternoon so we were in reasonably good shape but we didn’t want to be out in the Mongolian wilderness overnight. Continue reading