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.
(avatar: raptor, Lake Dillon)