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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 island hideaway.
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.