Mastering Machu Picchu with MS, Tracey Hall’s trip of a lifetime
For as long as Tracey Hall can remember, she has wanted to go to Machu Picchu. When she was diagnosed with MS just over two years ago, she thought that this bucket list item was now out of reach. This is where MitoQ ambassador, Nick Allen, and his Trust ‘Mastering Mountains’ comes in.
Mastering Mountains Charitable Trust exists to enrich the lives of people affected by Multiple Sclerosis by helping them get outdoors. Every year, the trust gives away two opportunities to assist people diagnosed with MS to complete an outdoor pursuit in either New Zealand or overseas. Tracey Hall was the recipient of the inaugural 2018 Mastering Mountains Expedition Grant and one step closer to her dream.
She has juggled training for her trek whilst also being a solo mum, full-time high-voltage electrician, member of Land Search and Rescue, active MS Society committee member and an advisory on the Electrical Workers Registration Board. When asked how she managed it all, Tracey said,
“For me, fatigue and the loss of strength in my leg are the two biggest challenges. I find this especially hard when I enjoy being outdoors and staying active. Taking MitoQ helps keep me energized, however!”
In June this year, Tracey reached Machu Picchu after walking 42km, climbing 30,000 stairs and climbing to the altitude of 4250m. An amazing accomplishment.
Tracey has written about her experience on the trail, read on for her inspirational story.
Machu Picchu: Mastering Mountains in Peru
By Tracey Hall
Walking the iconic Inca trail to Machu Picchu has truly changed my life. After spending a year planning and training for my trip to South America, there are not enough words in the dictionary for me to explain the experience or all the emotions that I felt during this incredible journey.
The four-day Inca Trail takes you through the Andes on the incredible rock path that was hand laid by the Incas. We started walking around 10 a.m. and 10 steps into the trail we crossed a wee bridge. I couldn’t help but smile from ear to ear! The thought that I was about to walk the Inca trail, something I’ve wanted to do since I was a little girl, and that I was finally here, taking my first steps and about to embark on a journey of a lifetime… it was so exciting.
With every step I took over the next few days, I could feel myself getting entrenched more and more in the mystery and magic of the place and culture. It left a huge mark on my heart and I still remember it so vividly. I was lucky enough to experience beautiful little ceremonies with my guide, giving thanks to Patchamama (Mother Nature). I can still feel the energy in my feet and the sun on my face. I can still hear the sounds of the wildlife and of my feet hitting the rock path. I can still feel the extreme exhaustion of climbing up to 4,250 metres, but also the sheer determination to keep going and not give up.
Best of all, I remember the feeling of reaching the Sun Gate where I viewed the ruins at Machu Picchu for the first time. Standing at the Sun Gate, I could hardly bring myself to look because it would mean that my life-long dream of walking the Inca trail to Machu Picchu would nearly be over. Needless to say, the tears started to flow. I composed myself, moved to the ledge and there it was: Machu Picchu in all its glory, beauty, magic, mystery and power which I could feel.
We still had another hour’s walk to descend into the ruins. That hour was one of the longest hours in my life. My mind was buzzing, struggling to comprehend what I had just accomplished. I had overcome all the symptoms and struggles that came with my Multiple Sclerosis — wheelchairs, weakness, infusions, and relapses. And now, I had just smashed the Inca trail.
I was still very emotional and the tears still flowed as I descended closer and closer to the ruins. I could feel Patchamama wrap her warm sun rays around my shoulders, as if to say “your time is here and it’s ok”. And then, suddenly, I was there. I was in the ruins of Machu Picchu. It was incredible!
In that moment, I felt a deep richness. I felt richer than the richest person on earth, I felt like the luckiest person alive, and I felt pride and ownership of the journey I had just taken. I felt the healthiest I had felt in years, even after climbing 30,000 stairs in four days, climbing up to 4,250 metres in altitude and pushing myself every step of the way. How this could be, despite having MS, I still don’t fully understand. I know that Patchamama had a lot to do with it and I am very thankful.
Standing there, at the edge of the ruins, all I could think was how grateful I was to everyone involved in getting me here. It has been a long journey and Mastering Mountains Charitable Trust, Macpac and MitoQ, along with my specialist trainers from Massey University (Arbie Hong and Grayson Nicholls) supported me every step of the way.
The journey was not only physically demanding but also deeply spiritual, soaked in all the energy, magic and beliefs of the Incan culture and Machu Picchu. A trip like this comes with a greater awareness of self and all the resulting emotions. Truly, I still feel like the richest person alive, and the most lucky!
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