hiking up to the snowmelt

Spontaneously we decided to go hiking this morning - only about an hour's drive along the highway to Shui Xi Gou (West Water Valley 水西沟) - up a long, windy, bumpy dirt road to some green mountains! Everything is picturesque, with fresh air and nature all around. It was so wonderful!! Off in the distance we saw flocks of white goats along the mountainside. They are so agile and sure-footed on the rocky heights. It was amazing to see. We set up a picnic spot near the creek, snacked on nan bread with PB and played frisbee with the girls. We put our feet in the icy-cold creek, and made stepping stones across a narrow section. The girls are becoming more daring as they jump from rock to rock - like little goats themselves. Asia found these beautiful buttercups and made a bouquet!

Later, some big cows ventured over to our picnic spot - eyeing our goods. Later we saw them raid another groups' food -- these were crazy scavenger cows! We were laughing so hard as the cow ran off with a plastic bag of apples and soda cans. When we go the mountains we see ravenous cows, not bears or sneaky racoons. Hehehe. That made my day.

We ended up taking a longer hike up the river valley, past a small village of Kazakh yurts, and young men on horses. The kids were bounding ahead further uphill than I thought they would go! We were amazed to find some leftover winter snow at the base of the mountain - it was still cold enough to remain. The snow was so packed that it was icy blue. Asia & daddy climbed some bigger rocks for this picture:

Asia: "My favorite part of today was hiking up the rocks with daddy! I climbed higher than the snow!"

these hikers were fueled by blue candy.
And you must end every good hike with some ice cream!!

...which, by the way: today is this little one's 3½ birthday!
it has gone SO fast!!