A long time ago, I came across a picture of a frozen lake of pristine blue ice, with frozen pearls of trapped air bubbles suspended within. Never in my wildest dreams had I imagined that I would find myself there one day, on a 600 km journey on the ice with nothing but a Russian UAZ Vehicle, a rented bike, and his own two feet.
Located in the Southern part of Eastern Siberia, the Irktusk Oblast province of Russia is home to the oldest existing freshwater lake on Earth, dating back to 20-25 million years. The deepest continental body of water in existence, the lake has a maximum depth of 5,315 feet.
The largest freshwater lake by volume, Lake Baikal is an ancient wonder which houses about one-fifth of all the freshwater on the Earth’s surface. The lake remains frozen in a state of timelessness from the months of late January to the end of April. Home to an approximate of 1,800 endemic plant and animal species, the lake lies in a cleft where the Asian subcontinent is literally splitting into two- the beginnings of a future ocean.
The Siberian Baikal region is home to a number of hot mineral springs, produced by natural breaks in the Earth’s crust. This is where I began his journey, on a quest to reach the hot springs on the shores of his dream destination: the stunning Baikal lake.
After fulfilling my quest to visit the hot springs of Baikal, I set off upon a rental bike, complete with spiked tires, for a journey cycling upon the ice, which had begun to melt with the arrival of Spring. Cycling for 15km through slushy ice, I found myself without water and chased by dogs on my journey back to his rooms, where I took a few days of much-needed rest before my next big adventure.