Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Saturday 5th October - Dawn - Lake Baikal

Around 2am the train stops at Irkutsk, and a couple of our fellow passengers get off, replaced by a couple more. The tracks are now following a river that flows another 50km into Lake Baikal. We manage a few hours semi-sleep, interrupted by a sudden unplanned stop; from the top bed I see the train driver run past, torch in hand towards the back if the train, five minutes later he runs back and we resume the journey. Did we hit something? We'll never know.
We've all left our blinds open tonight so we can see dawn arrive and with it the famous lake. However, with the corridor on the port side of the train, and our compartment on the starboard, our westerly progress along the southern side of the lake means that we have to get up and out to see the coast line and the sun rise.
As it turns out, it's an overcast morning, with just a sliver of bright lilac over the lake indicating dawn has broken. Nevertheless, most of the carriage is out of bed early, hoping to catch a glimpse of sunrise as the train skirts within a few meters of the waves.

This mighty lake situated on a tectonic fault line is the deepest in the world and holds a fifth of the world's liquid fresh water. It contains many unique species of fauna and flora, which makes the pollution from factories and paper mills in the Irkutsk region all the more troubling. I remember reading a story about the lake and the threat from industrial waste in National Geographic about fifteen years ago. Since then it has received a lot of welcome attention from domestic and international environmental groups. One of the peripheral initiatives is to link up a series of paths around the lake to create a circumnavigating hiking trail. Volunteers to help is work are being welcomed - one for next time.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.