The Northern Lights

My journey back was not smooth at all. I was frustrated that nothing seemed to be going my way. I remember looking up and just thinking wow. At first it looked like a faint grey light and then would turn into this beautiful aurora. It’s at times like this, I remembered that I’m in such an incredible place. 

I saw them a few times, once on the icecap when we were building a wall for the storm at 0200, on the East and West Coast. This photo was taken by the hostel manager on the east coast on his iPhone. 

The journey back was still challenging, especially when I was feeling physically and mentally tired. When we finally got off the Greenland Icecap, I wanted to get home as soon as possible. 

I spent a few days on the phone to Air Greenland trying to get 2 of us on a flight that had 1 space, I managed to get us on the flight. We took a pretty rough 1hr boat ride (open boat, no life jackets). I held my breath every-time I saw a big wave coming toward us! 2hrs before the flight, we were told it was delayed and had to wait in Kulusuk for 3 days, a small town on the East Coast with approx 240 inhabitants. 

I was frustrated at this point, I just wanted to get back. None of the return journey went smoothly. Our hotel booking was messed up on the West coast so we were waiting outside at 2200 for the hostel owner to find us different accommodation. 

Our luggage (which we sent at the start of the expedition to the west) with our clean clothes in had been sent back to the east a few days before we arrived. So I was still in my expedition clothes.

Sometimes you just have to laugh (or cry!). It was so nice to get home and get into clean clothes. I still don’t have my luggage (with the clean clothes) but hoping I’ll get it back in the next few weeks). 

Every part of this trip was an adventure, even the times that I was not on the ice cap. I just have to remember that wherever I am, just to take a minute, appreciate how I got there and take it all in! 

Getting to Greenland

Well this has been a journey in itself! I had decided last year that I was going to do the fall crossing in 2020. I would’ve finished my MSc exams and it fits in well with Summer Leave at work. 

With Covid restrictions, the plan had been cancelled… up until a week ago. I was looking into every possibility of getting there. I would have to fly to the West of Greenland, do 5 days of quarantine, get a negative Covid re-test and then fly to the East, prep all the kit, get on a boat to the start and then start the crossing…. of course I was going to do it!! 

I spent that week in England, contacting everyone to borrow as much kit as possible, Mike Fisher, Jenny Wordsworth and Louis Rudd have all been incredibly helpful! 

You require a negative Covid test within 5 days of travelling to Greenland from a Scandinavian country. I contacted the authorities and managed to get an English Centre approved. 

The easiest way for me to get to Nuuk (the West where I had to quarantine) was via Copenhagen. This is where I met Are Johansen (my guide). Our flight was the next day so we spent one night in Copenhagen before flying to Kangerlussuaq. This will be my finishing point too! From there we took a smaller flight to Nuuk. We had 90kg in our checked in baggage, this doesn’t include the 1kg of m&ms I had stuffed in my pockets.. 

And we made it to Nuuk! Only 5 days of quarantine to go, my Covid retest is on Monday and then fly to Tasiilaq.

“I may not be there yet but I’m closer than I was yesterday” and I will get there, I just know it

The Start

It started as an idea. What can I do that pushes my boundaries and helps me inspire younger people? It would have to be endurance related. Something in a harsh environment. . . Antarctica. I started reading more about Antarctic explorers, the incredible journeys of Amundsen and Scott, recent expeditions and blogs. My idea started to grow and I now have a plan.

I’m very excited to have Louis Rudd on board as my expedition manager. Louis completed a solo and unassisted crossing of Antarctica in 2018. You can see why I am excited to have him on board. We had a look at training plans, required kit, nutrition, how to prepare myself mentally and physically. At the end of our meeting, I’m feeling more and more motivated. He has given me a book on the first crossing of Greenland. Guess where one of my training trips will be…

Earlier this year, I returned from South Sudan, where I spent 6 months as the physiotherapist on a UN tour with the British Army. In my spare time, I decided to organise a 30 hour endurance event over a 2 week period in 3 different locations. I completed a total of 125 miles and members of the UK taskforce would join me from anything from 1-12 hours. My highlight of this was getting others involved and a lot of people completing more distances than they ever had before (26 to 50 miles).

After the 6 month tour, I spent a week in the UK before flying to South America where I spent time hiking in Brazil, Bolivia and Peru. After this trip, I had a week to prepare for Marathon des Sables, 156 mile race in the desert. I entered the event alone but at the end of the 6 days, had made some great friends in my tent (or more accurately a rug thrown over some sticks). It was very hot throughout and we experienced a nice sand storm which blew our tent away on one of the nights! The highlight was being given a coke zero (my achilles heel) on day 5 and finishing of course. I am still thinking of what morale I will take to Antarctica with me..

Over the last few weeks, I have been mountaineering and wild camping in Wales. It was wet and windy but we had some beautiful views when the clag cleared. I’m heading to Norway over the next few months, learning polar navigation and practicing puling a sled. I picked up some land rover tyres and will start training with them over the next few weeks!

My eight year old niece recently told me she was scared to try skiing again at the snowdome. We last went when she was six. I said its ok to be scared and she replied but you’re never scared. I explained that isn’t actually true, I get scared a lot of the time but life is an adventure and when I think about everything that can be achieved, being scared isn’t important anymore. I’m not sure I’ve persuaded her to go skiing again though.

I love an inspirational quote. To end this post here is a quote from Laura Dekker, who is the youngest person (aged 16) to circumnavigate the globe single-handedly.

I follow my own head. And if I’m determined to do something, then I’ll make sure that I make it happen.   – Laura Dekker