23 year old Hayley and her friend Sarah, both from Orkney, took part in our Iceland Trek in July 2014 after Hayley was diagnosed with MS.
Here Hayley (pictured on the left) tells us all about trekking through Iceland's magical landscape and how the experience surpassed all her expectations.
The last 10 months have just been so amazing. Getting really fit and active, our Secret Mini Art Show, Mad Hatters' Tea Parties, sales, a huge concert, being in a magazine, trekking in Iceland, raising money for the MS Trust - and all with my best friend Sarah.
In the run up to the trek both Sarah and I were committed to training well. We went out walking with the Orkney Ramblers as well as going for walks alone, together and with friends and family. The first few months of training were fine. I had two relapses in this time but the symptoms were mostly mild sensory things so this didn't impact on training for the Iceland Trek.
Setbacks in training
A few weeks before the trek when out walking one day, I tripped up, twisting my knee. This tore the cartilage in my left knee which was incredibly painful and meant training was no longer allowed. I also had a prolapsed disc in my back from trying to shut a door in the extremely high winds we had up here in Orkney. I began to feel very low, doubting whether I would even manage to trek in Iceland. However, not going wasn't an option for me.
I had also applied to join the Scottish Ambulance Service and after passing the SAS fitness test in May - against all the odds - I knew completing the Iceland Trek was entirely possible after all. I began training with Sarah again, going out on walks around Orkney. It was wonderful to see corners of Orkney I had never seen before, having lived here all my life.
Photos don't do Iceland justice
Trekking in Iceland was the most difficult stroll I have ever embarked on, within the most unbelievable scenery, with the greatest people. Photos don't do Iceland justice at all. It'll be snow and the darkest black lava rock under foot to start the day, which is almost impossible to walk on at times. Then a few hours later, just over the top of the mountain, it's beautifully green. Every shade of green imaginable. Green has never looked so inviting as it did after walking on snow for hours.
The mountains take all sorts of shapes too: huge lumps, pointy pyramids and even curly, like tusks on an elephant. The river crossings were freezing cold and the glaciers were stubbornly hard, yet water still came bubbling, boiling hot, out of the ground. It is a truly magical landscape and I would recommend that everyone sees it.
A life changing experience
Trekking was made much easier due to having super guides who are even fantastic cooks, having my awesome friend Sarah there and of course, all of the other amazing folk we trekked with who kept us smiling and laughing throughout.
When someone says it's a challenging, life changing experience - I can confirm that it literally, actually is and thank everyone kindly who helped make this journey possible and helped us to raise approximately £15,000 for the MS Trust.
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