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#110878 - 02/08/09 12:16 PM Down (or is it up?) the Yenisey River
kevonionia Offline

Registered: 04/17/06
Posts: 1322
Loc: Dallas, TX
I just finished reading a book out for a couple years (published in hardbound 2003; I've got a softbound) titled, "Five Months in a Leaky Boat," by Ben Kozel.

It's about four young adventurers from Australia and Canada who were the first to paddle down the Yenisey River through Mongolia and Siberia to its exit point in the Arctic Ocean.

There's a little hiking in it, where they climb to the top of the peak of Otgon Tenger and the headwaters of the Yenisey. But mostly it's about their floating first in a sponsor-provided yellow inflatable and kayaks to Lake Baikal (by far the largest fresh water lake in volume in the world) and then by a "lifted," derelict dory they improvised for rowing up several thousand kilometers to the Arctic Ocean.

What a tale! They finished the trip within a week of the 9/11 attacks, which might be why I'd never heard of the trip, the Yenisey, or the book.

The author, Kozel, was about 28 when he made this trek (he had paddled from end to end of the Amazon shortly before); he's a great writer. Introspective, enlightened, and honest. I guess that's what was so pleasing about the book: heavy on insight, light on bravado (yet there certainly was some.)

Kozel noted early on that the Yenisey is a non-entity to most of us in the West, often mistaken for the Yangtzee, but it is the 5th longest river in the world. This is a great adventure tale in an area so alien from our own.

I was most impressed by Kozel's descriptions of the Mongols and Russians they met. Here are four young guys (youngest, a cyclist, who was 22) with a growing command of Russian, who are hopelessly in love not with the Russian culture, but with those hearty, giving people who have had to live within it. (I find it especially rewarding to learn something from someone half my age.)

I really recommend the book -- to paddlers, cyclists, hikers --to anyone who heads out for a some adventure.
- kevon

(avatar: raptor, Lake Dillon)

#110934 - 02/09/09 06:24 AM Re: Down (or is it up?) the Yenisey River [Re: kevonionia]
GrumpyGord Offline

Registered: 01/05/02
Posts: 862
Loc: Michigan
Sound interesting but my local library and the state link does not have it. Amazon has a used copy for $50. Not that interesting.

#110956 - 02/09/09 01:01 PM Re: Down (or is it up?) the Yenisey River [Re: GrumpyGord]
kevonionia Offline

Registered: 04/17/06
Posts: 1322
Loc: Dallas, TX

Nope, not worth $50. Nothing like recommending a book with that kind of a price tag! I've got my hiking buddy reading it now, but when he's thru I can send it to you media mail and you can buy me a beer when we do a hike up there. (I'm working on Karma points -- Last week I gave a ride to the store to some Canadians cruisin' thru on a sailboat, and then found out they live ON the Bruce Trail that I'm dying to do part of -- so it does pay.) PM me with an address to send it to and I'll mail it when he gives it back.
- kevon

(avatar: raptor, Lake Dillon)

#111005 - 02/10/09 01:54 AM Re: Down (or is it up?) the Yenisey River [Re: kevonionia]
bmisf Offline

Registered: 09/15/03
Posts: 629
Hmm...I didn't know there were two of those books. From the same expedition, borrow or buy "Lost in Mongolia" by Colin Angus.

It's an enjoyable read...

#112525 - 03/09/09 01:07 PM Re: Down (or is it up?) the Yenisey River [Re: kevonionia]
GrumpyGord Offline

Registered: 01/05/02
Posts: 862
Loc: Michigan
I just finished "Five Months....". Kevonionia had sent it to me. Thank you Kevon. I had gotten the other book "Lost in Mongolia..." from an inner library exchange. I cannot really add much to the earlier review but reading the two books close together made for a very interesting read.

The "Five..." book is about twice the size of the "Lost.." book. Many of the passages make it look like the two authors either were working from the same set of notes or one was plagiarizing from the other. On the other hand many events related in one book which would seem to be very significant are not even mentioned in the other book. This is true in both directions. The main thing which I noticed was that Ben Kozel ("Five..") was much more into feelings and personal interactions than Colin Angus ("Lost.."). In reading Colin there is very little mention of personality differences or conflicts. His style is more like my personal hiking journals which tend to be much more fact than feeling. Ben on the other hand was less specific on facts and was very specific about various conflicts and hurt feelings etc. I am sure that it is mainly a difference in personality. Colin is very laid back and Ben is more introspective.

It would be interesting to see a third viewpoint from the other participant who was at the center of most of the conflicts.

I would recommend reading either or both. They are not hiking books but they do fit in with a wilderness adventure.


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