Page:Mongolia, the Tangut country, and the solitudes of northern Tibet vol 2 (1876).djvu/298

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mountains, afterwards taking the direction of the Khalka country. We did not follow this road because the wells along it were not sufficiently numerous, and had been neglected since the outbreak of the rebellion.[1]

Our course lay due north,[2] and after crossing some spurs of the Kara-narin-ula entered the country of the Urutes, which lies wedge-shaped between Ala-shan and the Khalka country.

This country is considerably higher than Ala-shan, but soon begins to sink towards the Galpin Gobi plain, where the elevation is only 3,200 feet; north of this again it rises towards the Hurku mountains which form a distinct definition between the barren desert on the south and the more steppe-like region on the north. There is also a slope from the ranges bordering the valley of the Hoang-ho westward to the Galpin Gobi, which forms a depressed basin, no higher than Djaratai-dabas, extending, as we were informed by the Mongols, for twenty-five days' march from east to west.

The soil of the Galpin Gobi, in that eastern portion of it which we crossed, consists of small pebbles or of saline clay almost devoid of vegetation; the whole expanse of country to the Hurku range being

  1. The Urga caravan, which started in the summer of 1873 for Lhassa to find the Kutukhtu, crossed the Gobi in small échelons and by different routes. People were sent in advance along the high road, to clear out old and dig new wells; notwithstanding which there was a scarcity of water.
  2. There is no road here, and you may sometimes go seventy miles without seeing a track.