“I want to encourage people. Life is about overcoming obstacles. You can live your dream.”
Tracey Elliot-Reep crossed the USA from south to north in an epic six-month horseback journey. A vivacious slip of a brunette, this Dartmoor UK native is not the first person you would pick as someone with the necessary grit for a gruelling solo voyage across a mountain wilderness.
Tracey is a woman of faith, but rarely goes to church; she is a lover of the outdoors and a poor speller, yet she is disciplined enough to sit at a computer for many hours to write, design and lay out a 300-page hardback book for which she took all the photographs.
Her book, Across America: Riding by Faith From Mexico to Canada is visually stunning. Through rich color pictures, sketches and writing, it follows her six-month trek across thousands of miles. Why does she do it?
She says America has always been a dream since playing cowboys and Indians on her ponies in Dartmoor. But her appetite for adventure has always been strong and America was not her first trip. She has trekked on horseback down the length of the British Isles, around Ireland and from tip to tip of New Zealand.
Tracey says it’s the search for a great adventure. She has many horrifying tales but faith is an important part of her adventures. Sometimes you have to dig deep to overcome fears, and her American journey was met with opposition from the start. She was told dreadful stories of riders shot in the Rio Grande while swimming, mistaken for illegal immigrants, cowboys mauled by bears or dragged by stirrup over a canyon edge, a woman without health insurance bitten by a poisonous snake; no insurer was bold enough to take Tracey on. But she found many warm-hearted Americans who helped her practically and emotionally on her journey.
The glorious sunsets, dunes of red sand and the cry of solitary eagles in the mountains made it worth it. She says she has to pinch herself to remember the challenges she and her horses Pistol and Smoky faced and what they achieved.
And that is the essence of Tracey’s adventures. “I want to encourage people. Life is about overcoming obstacles, and you can tell when you’re doing what you were made to do. You can live your dream. If I had a message, I suppose it would be: if I can do it, you can do it. After all, I’m nobody special!”