Parents cannot bear it

John Cantor is close to completing his solo trek.
John Cantor is close to completing his solo trek. Contributed

ADVENTURER John Cantor is just days away from fulfilling a long-time dream, and his parents Chris and Becky can hardly stand the suspense.

The Sunshine Beach local has walked 1000km solo across the barren Brooks Range in Alaska, and is now rafting his way 600km down the white-water Noatak River.

He is possibly less than two days away from emerging into Kotzebue Sound, in the Arctic Ocean, not far from his final destination.

His parents are monitoring his gruelling solo adventure from their home in Sunshine Beach, but the scant texts and irregular GPS readings are not helping to calm their nerves.

"I'm too scared to say 'Yes, he's going to make it', because I don't want to jinx him," said a nervous Mrs Cantor.

It's the fourth time the 27-year-old has attempted the wilderness adventure, and he has always had to abandon the trip early.

This time he has made amazing progress. He set out on June 15 for what he expected would be a 10-week trek, but he is well ahead of schedule after walking a staggering 50km per day through the range.

"It's such a vast, scary wilderness, he's just wanted to get across and just do it," Mrs Cantor said.

"Every extra night you're in there, there's more dangers from bears and wolves. I mean the mosquitoes are hideous; they can take down a caribou."

Her son battled painful tendonitis and swollen ankles to complete the walk leg, and naively expected the rafting trip to be easier, but icy headwinds from the Arctic Ocean have slowed his progress.

"Couldn't sleep last night because I was so excited at how close to the end of the expedition I am. Then spent 10 hours today fighting another headwind and suddenly the end seems so far away again," Mr Cantor wrote on his Facebook page yesterday.

His parents said he was entering a flood plain that again included grizzly bears, but these were more dangerous because they had been acclimatised to the presence of local fishermen so had less fear of humans.

"We Googled the area, and wish we hadn't. It's very much bear country," his mother said.

"That's my greatest worry, that they'll think he's salmon."

At the end of the river, Mr Cantor will enter Kotzebue Sound, where he faces an 8km paddle across icy open water to a small island and the fishing village of Kotzebue. It's from here that his mother hopes John will phone them, before he returns to retrieve equipment from his base camp at Fairbanks, and then back to Australia.

"There's no-one watching him, no support crew, no batteries for his satellite phone. My worry is he just gets swept out to the Arctic Ocean," Mrs Cantor said.

"I'm extremely proud. It's pretty amazing. Six thousand people have visited his Facebook page and it's very, very humbling."

His father initially had given his son just a 5% chance of success on the adventure and even tried to talk him out of it, and has revised his odds to be much higher.

Follow John Cantor's progress at his Facebook site, JohnCantorsBrooksRangeTraverse2012, and his website http://www.johncantor.com.au.

Topics:  alaska, barren brooks range, john cantor, noatak river, sunshine beach, sunshine coast



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