A Horsham man has returned from an Arctic expedition that took him through a ‘moonscape’ where no sign of humanity can be seen for hundreds of miles.
Jonathan Whymark, 45, of Barrington Road, a former firefighter and RAF serviceman completed a ten-day expedition within the Arctic Circle in Greenland to raise money for Help the Hospices, after his sister-in-law died of cancer at the age of 29.
The explorer has shared his adventures hiking through other-worldly landscapes and told of his experiences re-adjusting to life in the UK.
“You go through a very fractured moonscape of moraines which are these enormous scree and piles of rubble and grit still so new in terms of landscape no plants have moved in,” said the experienced walker.
“Coming back it took a day or two to get back in the mindset of having to do stuff here. We were getting up every morning half six with nothing competing for our time. You become quite singular in your outlook and motivation during an expedition.”
Jonathan, who went with friend Richard Tiley, 49, started the trip from Kangerlussuaq Airport and travelled for ten days west to Sisimiut - a growing town in the west of the country - with a rest day in a cabin by a 20km long lake on day five.
The walkers came close to having to deal with a ‘serious problem’.
Jonathan said: “The walking was quite tricky, the path follows the very edge of the lake and it was very steep under a valley. It’s filled with very big rocks you have to climb over and this was day three - I still had the best of 30kg on my back.
“I landed turtle-style on my back with my boots up in the air.”
In the fall, Jonathan whacked his elbow and got his boots wet scrambling out of the freezing lake.
The explorer feared his elbow had broken.
He explained: “My instant thought was if that’s broken we have got quite a serious problem because we were three days in so either I leave my pack behind and he [Richard] carries what we need for two people or if you’re on your own you have to wait for someone to come along.”
The last day of their expedition saw the pair traverse difficult terrain before catching fleeting glances of Sisimiut.
Jonathan said: “You do feel pretty elated, the bizarre thing is that it’s not a sudden feeling, because you see the signs for Sisimiut before you see it.
“It’s a good feeling when you know you’re on the home stretch and you’ve done the Arctic Circle Trail.”
Jonathan’s wife, who was stressed with work at the time, breathed a sigh of relief after they were reunited at Gatwick Airport.
“She was experiencing a bit of stress at work, and was chuffed to see I was back and breathed a sigh of relief.”
Reflecting on his experiences of the Arctic country, Jonathan explained he would go to sleep paranoid that he would wake up to find everything was packed away and he was alone.
While on his epic journey Jonathan he had a lot of time to think about how exploring for the Earth’s energy has a lasting impact on its environment.
He added: “It does make you think about the whole wind farm argument. You do wonder, once you start wind farms that’s it, you’ve scarred the landscape for a long long time. There you can walk for hundreds of miles and not see any sign of humanity at all.”
Jonathan raised around £1,600 for Help the Hospices. For his blog visit www. arcticcircletrailchallenge2013.blogspot.co.uk and to donate to the cause visit his JustGiving page.