John Cantor braves the cold to bathe in Alaska.
John Cantor braves the cold to bathe in Alaska. CONTRIBUTED

Hiker braves bear territory

WHILE Sunshine Coast surfing lifestyle presenter Liz Cantor loves to get about in the Great South East, her brother John is about as far away as anyone can take themselves on the planet.

John has gone where only four people have ever successfully trekked before - the extreme wilds of the Brooks Range in Alaska with only the acute pain in his achilles for company.

This is John's fourth attempt at battling the elements and his own human frailties across a 1600km endurance test, but thanks to modern social media, his isolation is open to internet inspection via his Facebook posts.

And now that John has finally reached the Noatak River to start his 600km raft down the raging white water headed for the Pacific Ocean, his father, Dr Chris Cantor, and mother Becky have been given permission to open up more on their son's solo expedition that borders on obsession.

Sister Liz was tweeting back in early June about the latest crack her "bro" was having at the Brooks Range, where the only thing keeping the grizzly bears at bay is a "bear-size" load of capsicum spray.

On Monday Liz posted on his Facebook page: "Thinking of you bro xx".

Dr Cantor was asked by his son to contact the Sunshine Coast Daily once he had reached the halfway mark of his epic into-the-wild experience, while the doctor has also spoken to ABC Coast FM this week for an update.

The Monday post from John showed just the sheer determination of his adventure quest.

"Fittingly the last day hiking was the hardest. I only got a few hours sleep last night as the pain in my achilles kept me awake.

"Then got up at 3am and hiked for 19 hours 10 mins with only two five-minute breaks. Climbed over three passes and endured a few hours of horrible bush bashing but I made it to the river. I have finished the hiking part of the expedition."

Dr Cantor said the family was less anxious about John's amazing challenge than his three previous attempts.

"We are a bit more resigned to it and we're also delightfully surprised that he's going so well this time," said Dr Cantor of his son's 50km per day average progress on foot.

"He's gone far further than ever before and the chances of crossing the Brooks Range successfully when he set out were really very slim if you bear in mind that probably only four people have ever done it.

"Now that he's almost two thirds of the way, the odds are looking fairly good, but we don't want to count our chickens."

Dr Cantor said this was "primarily a psychological challenge".

"It's one of the loneliest, most godforsaken places in the world."

A GPS beacon gives the family and his Facebook followers a once-daily fix on exactly where he is while a support plane intended dropping a kayak to him for the final watery phase of his journey.

"I haven't myself spoken to him since he left the Canadian border (on June 13). His mother had a quick conversation when he reached the halfway stage at Cooper's Pass, which is the one (Inuit) community in the central part of the Brooks Ranges."

Dr Cantor believes it will take John unitl some time after July 15 to complete his latest self-discovery.


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