In the last post, fellow hiking enthusiasts Loren, Doug (who found some snow today), and Joe all recommended poles for hiking; either ski poles or ones designed for trekking. Allan Moult of Leatherwood also suggested last winter that I get trekking poles, especially with the types of hikes I prefer.
I’ve had a walking stick that I’ve used for years now, shown below in the photo* from today’s hike. It’s about five feet long, made of a tree root that has been smoothed and varnished, given a rubber tip, and rounded at the top. It’s been through the muck but still looks good, and other than some oldster joking from time to time about finding …any ole branch in the forest, it’s done well by me.
I wonder, though, if I should look at investing in trekking poles. I see these used by more and more people, and they do look useful. They can fold up and be slipped into a pack, but are strong enough to take my weight when I’m headed downhill. And as noted in this page, trekking poles put equal pressure on both sides of the body.
Still, my old stick has a lot going for it. It’s the right height and firmness to provide support going uphill, and to be leaned on if making a long step between rocks going downhill; it thumps nicely on the ground, which scares away snakes, and can be used to brush spider webs out of my path. I can rest my chin on it when looking out over a vista, and can push brush out of the way when walking through grasslands. It’s unlikely I’d be attacked by wild animals, but it’s not uncommon to meet up with strange dogs in some areas, and the stick is intimidating to dogs.
And when I’ve climbed that steep, rocky hill and no one else is around, I can play Ninja Warrior.
*Just be glad I didn’t include a photo of my muddy, old, hiking boots, too.