|The village Lystvyanka sites on the shore of Lake Baikal,
the world's deepest lake (1700 meters and growing). The word 'Baikal'
means sea and this lake feels like one due to its size - it holds 1/5
of the world's fresh water supply. This water is clear enough to look
like tropical sea water because small shrimp-like crustaceans feed on
algae. Divers can see 40 meters underwater and people on boats can watch
a coin sink over 100 feet from the surface. Best of all, Baikal's water
is drinkably pure without filtration. Our hosts study Baikal. Luba has
discovered two species herself. She says 80% of the species are only found
here, most notably the world's only fresh water seals. The lake grows
deeper every year and some scientists claim it will split the Asian continent
in half in one million years.
|A deathmarch: we hiked 20 kilometers along the steep mountains
that ring Lake Baikal. Lake Baikal is huge, adding all the water from
America's Great Lakes could not fill it up.
| Baikal's clear water makes the coast look like a tropical
| The water is 6 degrees Celsius, a temperature the Russians
call 'cool' and we call 'freezing.' My toes were numb after five minutes
in the water.