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Two trails link two different worlds

Kara Fox
Sierra Sun
Kara Fox/Sierra SunVolunteers work on the Great Baikal Trail in August.
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A rocky trail, steep slopes and mountains in the distance, hiking above its deep, blue waters it is undeniable this is one of the most beautiful sights in the world upon which to lay your eyes.

No, it’s not the Tahoe Rim Trail offering a view over Lake Tahoe, but the Great Baikal Trail that looms over Lake Baikal. When looking out from the trail into the waters, it’s reminiscent of a high-perched view of the Pacific Ocean going on for miles and miles.

Trail building on the Great Baikal Trail began in 2003, said Natalia Luzhkova, the international volunteer coordinator, an interpreter and crew leader for the Great Baikal Trail.

“The idea appeared years ago,” Luzhkova said. “In Irkutsk, famous writers walked around the lake and traveled. They were the first to come up with the idea.”

Exchanges have been made between the Tahoe Rim Trail Association and the Great Baikal Trail Association through the Tahoe Baikal Institute.

Ariadna Reida, director of the Great Baikal Trail Association, also works for the Tahoe Baikal Institute as an interpreter. Participants in the South Shore-based Tahoe Baikal Institute’s summer exchange also work for the Great Baikal Trail, and have seen how the Tahoe Rim Trail progressed.

Bryan von Lossberg, executive director of the Tahoe Baikal Institute, volunteers for the Tahoe Rim Trail Association and points to the Tahoe Baikal Institute as helping make the connection between the two trails.

“Would the Great Baikal Trail have happened if there wasn’t a TBI? Probably. It probably would have, but it would probably have happened later and in a different fashion,” Lossberg said.

Of the more than 1,300 miles of the Great Baikal Trail, approximately 227 miles are built, said Luzhkova.

Trail-building volunteers travel from around the world to Siberia to help build the trail that will snake around the world’s largest lake, with 20 to 30 crews working two weeks at a time.

“Lake Tahoe and Lake Baikal are both beautiful and pure,” Luzhkova said. “We should learn about Tahoe because it was developed from the beginning and now they want to preserve it. We should learn from those mistakes.”

For more information on the Great Baikal Trail visit http://www.greatbaikaltrail.ru


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