Coach Kel Gives Us The Best Hiking Advice You'll Ever Receive

When Kelly Books first joined Wild Women 16 years ago, she was probably just like you. Excited and maybe a bit nervous about meeting a new group of women for the first time. But, like many of our Wild Women, it didn't take Kelly long to find her feet and fully immerse herself in the community. She started out as a client, coming to Di's Trek Training in Clontarf on Monday nights. But within about 18 months, Kelly was working in the Wild Women office. Then, five years later, she became one of our first adventure coaches!

She's been a fearless, strong, and steady Trek Training leader for over a decade now, and she's still going strong. Kelly has led many Wild Women on memorable adventures all over Australia. She has hiked in some extraordinary locations and witnessed the beauty, and diversity, of the Australian bush. So many treks stand out in her memory and mean something special. 

But there's one adventure that really takes the cake for Kelly. And now we want to go!

Q: What do you love about being a Wild Women coach?

A: I have been a Wild Woman for 16 amazing years. I first started out as a client, then I began working in the office. 11 years ago, I became an adventure coach. I love being outdoors and training with women who want to take on different challenges and adventures. We all have such busy lives, so it is great to get out there both day and night in all weather conditions. We get to download our day, discuss families, laugh, even cry, and solve many issues. 

Q:  What's the best hike you've ever done and what made it so epic?

I have hiked with Wild Women all over Australia and New Zealand. I've done Cradle Mountain in Tasmania, the Larapinta Trail and the Jatbula Trail in the Northern Territory, the Bungle Bungles in Western Australia, Mount Barney in Queensland, and Lord Howe Island. I've also explored Freycinet, Mount Aspiring National Park, and recently Flinders Island. It's hard to pick a favourite as they have all been so diverse.   

If I had to pick one it would be Lord Howe Island, a UNESCO world heritage site. Mount Gower (875 metres) is a domed volcanic relic rising steeply from the south of the island.  When we summitted we were met by hundreds of providence petrels landing at our feet and pecking at our boots. We were able to sit with them and even handle them. There are more peaks to climb, beautiful beaches to swim at, kingfish to hand feed. And there's so much plant and bird life! 

Lord Howe Island

Q: Which hiking destination is at the top of your bucket list and why?

A: My bucket list hike would have to be the Four Sister Mountains in China, a few hundred kilometres west of Chengdu, deep in the Sichuan wilderness. The national park was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage list in 2006 as a giant panda sanctuary, and the area is stacked with traditional Tibetan history and culture. It's not very well known and this scenic spot claims dozens of peaks above 4,000 meters. It's certainly a destination for mountaineers. The most popular peaks are Dafeng (the oldest sister, 5,025m) and Erfeng (the second sister, 5,276m).  Hiking from Changping Valley to Bipeng Valley is a classic route with views of snow sights, streams, waterfall, and forests. The Shuangqiao Valley, Changping Valley and Haizi Valley all have excellent views of natural beauty, with alpine lakes along the route.

Q: What's the funniest thing that's ever happened to you on a hike?

A: Just recently were we training at St Ives at night when we encountered about 100 black cicadas flying around. Four of the girls screamed, panicked, and tried to outrun them. Four of us absolutely loved being there for a very special nature moment. We all ended up having a great laugh.

Q: What's the best hiking advice you've ever been given?

A: Expect the unexpected.

You can join Kelly's trek training sessions on Tuesday mornings and Wednesday nights. If you're new to trek training, sign up for an Intro Pass and take advantage of our super special International Women's Day offer

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