Ever dreamed of ditching your nine-to-five and escaping into nature for months on end? Well, you’re about to be inspired.
Mary Mansfield, from Hadfield, Derbyshire, set out on an epic journey, travelling the entire length of America from Mexico to Canada – on foot.
The 40-year-old had suffered from terrible migraines since the age of 25 – she had to take daily painkillers to get on with her life – but after changing to a vegetarian diet her symptoms suddenly improved.
Feeling as though she had been granted a new lease of life, Mary thought this was the perfect time to challenge herself. So she embarked on her mammoth walk – covering 2,653 miles in total.
‘It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done and is probably the hardest thing I’ll ever do,’ says Mary.
‘The best bit was getting away from it all and enjoying a sense of escapism. It was like I was in a completely different world and I was in complete solitude and peace.’
Mary ventured across arid deserts, freezing, snowy mountains and dense forests. She completed 25 miles every single day, over six months and wore out four pairs of trainers in the process.
‘I was alone a lot of the time and I’m incredibly proud of what I have done,’ Mary adds.
‘It was amazing and I can’t begin to explain what an epic adventure it was. I felt like a wild mountaineer.
‘I camped out overnight in the wilderness and did it completely on my own.’
Mary had a couple of hairy moments on her journey. She fell on a rock in the snow in California and cracked two of her ribs. Another time she almost fell down a cliff and had to pull herself up from the edge with an ice pick.
‘It was pretty scary. I had to take a couple of days off when I was injured,’ she says.
Mary quit her job as a medical sales adviser and booked a one-way ticket to San Diego, in Southern California. She set off on her journey in April.
All she had with her was one bag with a tent, one spare pair of clothes, simple cooking utensils, basic survival equipment and a satellite GPS navigation system to keep her on the right track.
Living off her own back was challenging. She only carried enough food for 10 days, so she had to make sure she passed through a town every couple of weeks to restock.
She mostly slept in her tent but would grab the odd night’s sleep in a hotel if she happened to be near one at the right time.
At one point along the trail, she came face-to-face with a potentially deadly brown bear in some thick woodland.
‘It was a scary moment but it went off in the other direction,’ she says.
‘I also came face-to-face with a wolf in California but it ran away as soon as it saw me.’
Mary got home in November and was delighted to be reunited with her partner, Derek, who stayed at home during her adventure.
Now, she’s planning on writing a book based on her adventures and wants to inspire other people to experience travelling the world.
‘I was never daunted by it and was just happy to be able to do it. I just kept pushing and knew I had to complete it, for myself.
‘Failing was not an option.’
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