How One Woman Went From Complete Newbie To Hardcore Hiker

By Sophia Hatzis

Liz Walden hasn't always been into hiking. In fact, before she joined Wild Women, she was a complete newbie to trekking and adventuring.

It all started when she heard Di Westaway mention Sydney Coastrek on the radio. Liz quickly signed up for the 50km challenge with her friend Margaret Sheridan. She loved the challenge but she also loved seeing her fitness and strength improve.

When her feet recovered, she signed up for Trek Training sessions. It didn't take long for Liz to catch the adventure bug, and soon she had signed up for her first Wild World trip to Bhutan.

But like many of our Wild Women, Liz was juggling plenty of balls in the air when she first joined our community. She was working full-time, her kids were finishing school and she was very, very busy. The days were long, sometimes exhausting. But Liz knew she needed to make training a priority for her health and her happiness. She simply had to fit it in, make it work, and push away the excuses that would come up.

Her perseverance paid off. Her fitness levels kept improving and she found a community of passionate, loving, welcoming women. That's why Liz kept coming back in the early days. And that's why she still comes back today. Liz has made life-long friends in the wilderness. She and her fellow Wild Women go on weekend hikes, they catch up for brunch and they share dinners together.

"We celebrate at every opportunity," she says. 

Being a Wild Woman has also brought Liz something quite unexpected. Confidence. She's signing up for trips and treks she never thought she'd be able to start, let alone finish. She's taken up swimming, regularly does yoga, and she's planning a hiking trip to Japan this year with her girlfriends. 

There's one thing this hardcore hiker is sure about. You're got to make time for your training. 

"You have to put in to get out," she says.

Q: What do you love MOST about being a Wild Woman?

The laughs, the friendships, and being taken out of my comfort zone on a regular basis. 

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

This one is hard!  Every hike has been exciting and epic for its own reasons. But the long, epic treks that stand out for me are Bhutan and Mount Kenya. I say Bhutan because it was my first trek, it was at altitute, and it was remote and beautfiul with gorgeous people. I would pick Mount Kenya too because it was so rugged and remote with a varied landscape. I also love Nepal because the mountains are truly awe-inspiring, there's nothing like it!

In all cases, we had great World Expedition Guides who made me feel safe.

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

There are always a few that catch my eye which makes it hard to put one at the top.

But the latest one I've noted is the Ak-Suu Turkestan Range Trek, it looks amazing. What appeals to me is that it's remote, it goes through several mountain passes, has a wide variety of landscapes including gorges, alpine scenery and sheer rock walls, you stay with locals, and you get to visit places you have never heard of! This one's at the top of my list until another one catches my eye. There are too many places and too little time.

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

Things are always funnier at the time than in the telling and what goes on tour stays on tour, right?

But two things I'll never forget were trips where we experienced “expect the unexpected”. On one trek it rained where it apparently never rains so we were seriously unprepared. When we went to Fraser Island, the tent became a swimming pool because we hadn't put it up properly. When we went to the Bungle Bungles in Western Australia, we had another run-in with the rain and we ended up lying like mummies under a tarp. I'm not sure if it was funny at the time, but it certainly was afterwards. 

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

Be prepared to put the work in up front. Training is so important. If you arrive strong, you will enjoy the trip much, much more and you'll also avoid injury. But it's just as important to walk at your own pace, and enjoy the journey without worrying too much about the destination each day.

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