Last night’s camp was by a babbling river. One of the many feeding the lake and an opportunity to fill our depleted water reserves. Baikal is a fresh water sea. Up to 1600m deep and 636km long. According to Lonely Planet, is the largest fresh water lake in the world, by volume. It is also one of the oldest geological features, formed 25-30million years ago. It contains more water than the 5 great lakes of North America, combined and contains 20% of the worlds unfrozen fresh water.
The lake is 70k’s from last night’s camp site along an excellent road. We have spent most of the morning in the village of Goryachinsk updating the blog and watching bathers taking a dip in the lake. By their immediate reaction, it’s pretty cool. It’s also starting to rain. On a clear day it seems the opposite side of the lake is lined by snow covered mountains. Sadly there is no sign of them today. In fact, there seems to be no sign of the other side at all.
What is interesting is the housing development going on. Amongst the traditional log cabins that make up the majority of dwellings, there are now modern western style homes appearing. This is a trend we are seeing more of, in this part of Russia. The roading in towns and villages is earth, sand or whatever the soil type is. There are beautiful highways but the feed off roads to towns are dirt within 50m of leaving the seal. What we don’t appreciate I guess, is that most of the year they are frozen and negotiable. Even Lake Baikal is frozen in winter and drivable.
Logging appears to be a sizeable activity in this part of Siberia. Geographically, it’s quite handy to the major markets of China and Korea. Nearly every house in this town has a pile of flitches outside it’s gate. Firewood for winter and no doubt it helps the mill clear the debris. There is evidence of selective logging going on too. Similar to what I have seen in Canada. Small areas felled and allowed to recover.