Page:Mongolia, the Tangut country, and the solitudes of northern Tibet vol 2 (1876).djvu/48

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

28

DEPARTURE. LINGERING WINTER.

beset the path of the traveller in countries so remote and amidst so unfriendly a people, to succeed in our enterprise.' These expectations were fully realised, and good fortune never deserted us.

On the morning of March 17th we left Kalgan, taking the same route by which we had returned the year before from Ala-shan. The first evening we again felt the severity of the climate of Mongolia; spring had not commenced here, although at the end of February the weather at Kalgan was tolerably warm. Waterfowl had appeared In large numbers, and insects were numerous. On the plateau, however, all this was changed. The snow had certainly all melted, but thick blocks of last winter's ice still encumbered the streams; the thermometer marked several degrees of frost, cold winds prevailed, and birds of passage had not yet appeared; In fact, the steppes of Mongolia bore a wintry aspect.

Like the spring of last year, the frost, wind, and snow, varied by an occasional warm day, continued throughout March and even the whole of April. The atmospheric changes, especially from heat to cold, were very sudden. Thus at 1 P.M. on March 25th, the thermometer marked 22° Cent. of heat (72° Fahr.), and the following day 5° Cent. of frost (23° Fahr.). Again, in the beginning of April, after some warm days, accompanied by thunderstorms, on the night of the 12th two feet of snow fell, and the mercury receded 19° Fahrenheit, after which frost and snow continued till the end of April, when