Hiking to Siberia: Curious Tales of Travel and Travelers
By Lawrence Millman. sunnyoutside, 2012, 126 pp.
Lawrence Millman is a refreshingly old-fashioned adventurer. In his travels he generally heads out to little-known, hard-to-reach, hard-to navigate places that require stamina and endurance: as he notes, "travel" and "travail" are etymologically related. Curiosity drives his journeys. "I'm trying to discover the few remaining places that have not lost their marrow," he says.
Hiking to Siberia is a slender book, but its 22 brief essays cover a great expanse of territory, from Svalbard to Micronesia, from Nova Scotia to the Lesser Antilles. As I observed in my review of his book Last Places: A Journey in the North, Millman loves stories—and he is an excellent storyteller, sufficiently talented to make a good story even out of failing to find the story he was looking for. He never does solve the enigma of Lillian Alling, the subject of the title essay, a woman who in 1927 left New York City to hike to Siberia and may or may not have made it. No matter. She piques our interest as she piqued his.
Two other characters of interest Millman profiles in these stories are Jules Verne, ("The Incidental Traveler"), who devoted his writings to exotic travels, but did not, it turns out, travel very far; and Christiane Ritter ("A Woman in the Polar Night"), who joined her husband in Svalbard Read More