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bredler
01-03-2008, 18:55
I'm curious to know, because I feel like they would help tremendously, but I'm not sure. What's the skinny on the poles?

jessicacomp
01-03-2008, 19:17
i was JUST wondering this myself. i hope lots of people answer!

bredler
01-03-2008, 19:22
i was JUST wondering this myself. i hope lots of people answer!

What's your take on them?

kayak karl
01-03-2008, 19:29
I'm curious to know, because I feel like they would help tremendously, but I'm not sure. What's the skinny on the poles?

don't like them. false security. started hiking in 1959. my dad cut me a stick for walking and it ain't changed since:sun. one stick hand cut and carved, that's MY way.
to each his own;)

scope
01-03-2008, 19:29
Anytime I'm going up or down, I am glad I have them. Only time I find them slightly annoying is on level trail. Can't remember what I used to do with my hands?

jessicacomp
01-03-2008, 19:38
What's your take on them?
I used a hiking staff for a good while. One time though, I forgot it and had to go back and get it. It was a pain, being that it was a half mile or so back on the trail.
I havent really used in a couple of year, and I have never used walking poles. I am thinking about getting a hiking staff though, just because I really dont like going down steep hillsides, and I think a staff is good for balance, not to mention it helps with self defense if ever needed.

envirodiver
01-03-2008, 19:44
For years I used a hand cut cedar walking stick. It was a good friend, still have it but it is retired now.

I use 2 trekking poles. Sometimes they are in the way, but my knees just don't handle the downhill sections that well anymore. They are also nice for stream crossings with rock hopping. Excellent balance is better though.

I usually collapse and pack them for long sections of flat trail and road walks.

rafe
01-03-2008, 19:53
Hike without them from early 1970s till 2002. Now I use them almost always. It's not for having weak knees or ankles or poor balance. Just feels a lot more stable with the poles, esp. when the ground's uneven. A minor wobble can be quickly arrested, and needn't turn into a lurch or a fall. Saves energy. Gives me peace-of-mind.

Ghosthiker
01-03-2008, 19:59
Well, I voted for the single pole, since I have always used a hiking staff. But, I just got two leki poles, so after I try them some, that may change. probably, tough, it will depend on teh hike as to which ones I use.

hopefulhiker
01-03-2008, 20:01
Used the poles for Henry Shires Squall....

Kirby
01-03-2008, 20:08
Poles help me going down some of the steep, rocky downhills you face in northern New England, and give me a push going up hill, or gives me something to push on when going up a large rock step.

Kirby

Farstriker
01-03-2008, 20:11
I used a single cut piece of wood when doing Kilimanjaro. It was a life-saver. On trails in Alabama (not a lot of ups and downs) I like the balance of 2 collapsable ski poles if I use any at all. When I start the AT, I'll probably carry both ski poles and donate/trade-for-cookies either or both if I don't want them along the way.

Hikerhead
01-03-2008, 20:14
My Komperdell Poles helped me beat my way thru waist high May Apples on the BMT a few years ago. Without them, I wouldn't be here now.

bredler
01-03-2008, 20:15
I used a single cut piece of wood when doing Kilimanjaro. It was a life-saver. On trails in Alabama (not a lot of ups and downs) I like the balance of 2 collapsable ski poles if I use any at all. When I start the AT, I'll probably carry both ski poles and donate/trade-for-cookies either or both if I don't want them along the way.

Kilimanjaro! :eek: wow.


Welcome to WhiteBlaze.

Hana_Hanger
01-03-2008, 20:25
Without some kind of help I would not be able to walk very far.

I own all three kinds...love my solid wood walking stick...but very hard to fly with! At home on the trails I use that one...unless I am on really bad trails with lots of high steps up rocks and over roots...I use my ski pole. For some reason I feel it would not break as easy as the wooden one.
Could be a false sense of security there...lol
On trips where I must fly I take the 2 or 3 part hiking/trekking poles.
A must to be able to fit in my duffle bags and backpacks.

I usually like using only one...for some reason I feel I tire out more quickly with two poles. BUT I always take two for with steep climbs I use both.
Last year...twice I put my poles up (attached to backpack) on level ground thought I would not need them. Fell twice...I guess I need that 3rd leg to help out more than I thought!

Pauline Houle
01-03-2008, 20:29
I find poles help with stability, especially on hills.:sun

Montego
01-03-2008, 20:33
Finally replace my old wooden walking stick with a new one made of hickory. Added a deer skin grip, nylon web strap, epoxied a small compass on top, and drilled a sight hole through the shaft (sort of like a lensatic compass idea). Sure, it's heavy, but helps with balance while hiking and makes a durn good two handed weapon.

Lone Wolf
01-03-2008, 21:04
What's your take on them?

you don't need them

Blissful
01-03-2008, 21:09
My knees loved them.

saimyoji
01-03-2008, 22:22
you don't need them

weenie :cool:

jessicacomp
01-03-2008, 22:33
Hana Hanger's post made me think about what I would do if I take just one hiking stick (as in a larger, wooden one) and fly. Obviously it will not fit in my backpack, but I would imagine I could have it be a seperate piece of checked luggage. Does my assumption seem correct?

J5man
01-03-2008, 22:43
I am still experimenting with 2 poles vs. 1 stick/staff. I don't dislike the poles by any means but a hiking stick seems more like "hiking" to me. Good thing, unless you are thru hiking, you don't have to commit to one school of thought or the other. Some prefer none (right L. Wolf?) but I do find it helpful using one or the other. Before you commit to poles, you may want to buy come cheaper ones (my current ones are Eddie Bauer brand from Target at $15/each) and my hiking stick came from a gift shop in GSMNP for about $8. You will get a thousand different opinions on this subject but the fun part is experimenting.

superman
01-03-2008, 22:48
Two leki's make my hike easier. It's like having 4 wheel drive vs 2 wheel drive.

fivel
01-03-2008, 22:54
i was skeptical for awhile, thinking that they were just a fad. one day i tried them, just to give them a chance, and i was persuaded. i am extremely klutzy on the trail and poles have broken many falls for me since! also, they extend my battery life on the uphilll and soften the load on my knees on the downhill. love em, wouldnt want to hike without them again.

rafe
01-03-2008, 23:05
:welcome, fivel.

SmokyMtn Hiker
01-03-2008, 23:06
I got Leki poles for Christmas and have only used them once on a short day hike and enjoyed them. I think they are going to be more beneficial on backpacking trips when carrying a heavier load on my back and hiking longer treks.

T-Dubs
01-03-2008, 23:14
I used them for the first time on my short hike this past Fall. They did seem to help on the downhills, but then, I'm old and feeble. They spent the majority of the time on my pack.

TWS

canerunner
01-03-2008, 23:21
I've been hiking and backpacking since the late 60's, and as I've gotten older, I have gone through several stages in the use of staffs and poles.

For the first stage, I hiked without any staff or pole. I was young, and carred a fairly heavy pack (as most everyone did back then).

As I got older, I changed from an external frame pack to a internal frame, and lightened my load considerably. Even at that, as my knees got older and less flexible, I started using a staff on occasion. I found that the staff gave me the ability to stabilize myself on steep or rough sections.

I have just started using a pair of Lekis, and I have to tell you that they are well worth considering. Using them, I find that I have the same ability to stabilize myself in steep and rough areas, but I have twice the ability to balance myself. Using the poles also has another benefit, which I hadn't realized until I really started using them to make miles. That is that they dsitribute the work over your entire body, instead of just working your hips and legs.

The first time I hikes a longer distance with them, I was amazed that my arms, shoulders and sides all ached from use. After doing this a couple of times, I don't ache any more, but I can sure tell when I'm using my upper body, because my legs and knees aren't nearly as tired as they used to get.

I'm sold on my Lekis, and sugest them, especially for older hikers.

cowboy nichols
01-03-2008, 23:40
I agree with canerunner when I was younger I didn't carry anything than started using a wooden staff more for defence than I crushed an ankle in an accident . I started to use poles to relieve the stress on my knees and ankle They are great and I wouldn't think of hiking without now. The Docs who put my ankle back togather said I probably wouldn't ever hike again. Thanks to the poles I was on Springer a year later.

Tinker
01-03-2008, 23:51
Having trekking poles is like walking on all fours. You have much more stability. I often use mine to jump a stream or mud puddle.
The most important aspect, though, is the fact that they let your arms and upper body muscles take some of the impact off of your knees, ankles, and hips.
The older I get, the more thankful I get for them. I've been using them for about 6 years. Before that, I used a single stick that I would find in the woods, and still have my favorite moose maple stick found on the Long Trail in Vermont.
They also are good for intimidating a small raccoon with an attitude on a bridge over a stream :D (also Long Trail).

Many a slip or stumble has been arrested by one of my poles.

ChinMusic
01-03-2008, 23:55
I think the numbers on this poll speak for themselves.

And no, the numbers do NOT declare the vast majority of us weenies....lol

flagator
01-04-2008, 00:30
I don't use them, and can't help but find them a bit trendy. Tried a couple times, always end up just carrying them. Maybe once im older and have bad knees.

Bob S
01-04-2008, 00:35
I donít use one, I always thought I should get one and start using it, but just havenít yet.

Bob S
01-04-2008, 00:40
I am still experimenting with 2 poles vs. 1 stick/staff. I don't dislike the poles by any means but a hiking stick seems more like "hiking" to me. Good thing, unless you are thru hiking, you don't have to commit to one school of thought or the other. Some prefer none (right L. Wolf?) but I do find it helpful using one or the other. Before you commit to poles, you may want to buy come cheaper ones (my current ones are Eddie Bauer brand from Target at $15/each) and my hiking stick came from a gift shop in GSMNP for about $8. You will get a thousand different opinions on this subject but the fun part is experimenting.


Whatís the difference between a hiking pole and a hiking staff?

envirodiver
01-04-2008, 00:41
The other use that I have for them is that I sleep under tarps a lot and other shelters that I use the poles as support structure. I know that I could use sticks found in the woods to do the same thing, but knowing me I would spend an hour looking for the 2 perfect sticks.

Tinker
01-04-2008, 00:45
What’s the difference between a hiking pole and a hiking staff?

Most hikers refer to poles as two, most often collapsible.
A staff is a single pole, most often wood, in my case before using poles, something found in the woods and carved to fit my hand as I felt necessary.

Hana_Hanger
01-04-2008, 01:55
Hana Hanger's post made me think about what I would do if I take just one hiking stick (as in a larger, wooden one) and fly. Obviously it will not fit in my backpack, but I would imagine I could have it be a seperate piece of checked luggage. Does my assumption seem correct?

You need to check with your airlines...TSA does not allow SKI Poles thats for sure or even Wooden Walking Sticks as a carry on.

At least on Aloha Airlines, and Hawaiian Air I could not take them...had to be able to fit in my luggage in check in...or prove I needed the walking stick to assist me with walking with a Dr's note for carry on.

Since I am too cheap to pay an extra $25 each way for the oversize wooden walking stick...I took the poles that were an easy fit in my bags.

BUT...lol I did buy the special badges(not sure the correct name of what you call those da kine but they are metal and have the name of where you hiked on them...State or National Park etc... ) that you attach to your wooden stick as memory reminder...even if that stick did not come with me on the hike.

Too bad because I had purchased two great looking hickory walking sticks with a compass and whistle attached and our names carved in them....oh well

greentick
01-04-2008, 02:14
I like poles. More time lookin around, less time lookin down. Use em for tarping. I still stumble once in a while, but less often and with lesser effect. Uphill boost. Downhill steady. On flats or gently downhill can really kick it into gear if I want to. I use the REI peak ul poles nonshockabsorbing.

zoidfu
01-04-2008, 02:21
I didn't like them until I had to hike in snow and ice up some elevations. Absolute life saver... Well, at least a trips saver. Counldn't have gone too far without something on that ice... Anyway, I prefer the Leki Wanderfreund. It's a cane style pole. I like the grip and feel better than your traditional ski pole type stick. The cane style grip allows a multitude of ways to hold it that you just don't get with the normal ones. I'm the only person I know that has one... don't know why they aren't more popular...

NorthCountryWoods
01-04-2008, 08:22
Used them all at one point or another.

Just recently realized that strengthening the legs and working on balance has shown a larger benefit than the poles did. I was relying on them too much and I think I was losing balancing ability. On the ups I use my hands more.

I still carry one, but it's on my pack cept for the real ugly downs.

ki0eh
01-04-2008, 10:51
I don't use any poles.I suppose as a kid in upper NY roaming gorges in summer and snowy hills in winter I learned to get around with things I would just tend to lose/leave behind. Then I was made to watch workers' comp avoidance "MoveSMART" videos about 12 years ago (recall mentioning this in another thread) which showed tips about moving on slippery surfaces and which were credited by my then-Fortune 500 employer with dramatic claim reduction moving on slippery floors, steps, etc. in its production facilities. The last video they made me watch was one that was done for the USFS.

Some tips I remember after all these years are:

Watch where your belly button goes (close enough to center of gravity for most folks). Belly button over feet is good. Belly button in front of feet is not good due to slipping causing knee and face plants. In the video's opinion poles are not good because slip or misplant inevitably causes belly button in front of feet meaning the fall is more injurious to knees or face.

Keep Your Crown - Look down with eyes not head, pretend you're wearing a crown on your head that you can't drop. Head weighs enough that looking with head not with eyes moves center of gravity in front of belly button thence in front of feet leading to front plant.

On a slippery surface, keep one foot planted flat under your belly button and move the front foot forward until the other foot's planted then shift weight to it. Imagine an invisible line pulling you forward, tied to your belly button.

Don't flail arms or put arms out for balance, that moves center of gravity away from your belly button to where you can't control it. Plus you then fall on your hand or wrist for expensive injuries.

Following these rules, if you fall you land on your butt then can get right back up again. I've got much experience with this too. :)

Lone Wolf
01-04-2008, 10:55
I'm curious to know, because I feel like they would help tremendously, but I'm not sure. What's the skinny on the poles?

never have, never will :)

maxNcathy
01-04-2008, 11:00
I would like to try Gossamer Gear ultra lite poles but I have komperdells which do the trick.

Wilson
01-04-2008, 11:37
Yall must be doing sumthing different than me. When its real steep i'm grabbing saplings, bushes and rock anyway. Grab a stick to cross a creek.
Just can't relate the need for 2 ski poles to hike...More power to ya.

horicon
01-04-2008, 11:41
I started to, because what vII did to my knee.

Lone Wolf
01-04-2008, 11:41
Yall must be doing sumthing different than me. When its real steep i'm grabbing saplings, bushes and rock anyway. Grab a stick to cross a creek.
Just can't relate the need for 2 ski poles to hike...More power to ya.

one word. marketing

cowboy nichols
01-04-2008, 11:54
never have, never will :)
"Never say never':dance

bredler
01-04-2008, 12:18
Well I'm pretty sure that I'm going to remain pole-less for the time being. I was just commenting because a lot of people say they like leki poles, but I've come to realize that most of them are in the over 30 crowd. I tend to do okay hiking without them and they might help me some, but it's too much money for something that I might not use.

Hooch
01-04-2008, 12:23
Personally, I use the Black Diamond Contour poles with the Flik-Lok system for ease of adjustment. Works for me. :D

Lone Wolf
01-04-2008, 12:30
"Never say never':dance

i'll NEVER own, borrow or use hiking poles. simple fact :)

saimyoji
01-04-2008, 12:33
i'll NEVER own, borrow or use hiking poles. simple fact :)

How do you explain this (http://whiteblaze.net/forum/vbg/showimage.php?i=18194&catid=searchresults&searchid=12225)?

Lone Wolf
01-04-2008, 12:41
How do you explain this (http://whiteblaze.net/forum/vbg/showimage.php?i=18194&catid=searchresults&searchid=12225)?

those belong to mrc237. he made me pose with them just for the photo

saimyoji
01-04-2008, 12:43
sure. weenie. :D

maxNcathy
01-04-2008, 14:24
those belong to mrc237. he made me pose with them just for the photo

Sure, sure, LW good story!

I hiked behind LW one time near a mountain on the trail. I saw him stumble on many rocks and fall down a few times.I thought he had been boozing it up.

Soon as it turned dark and when nobody could see him he stopped and pulled two hiking poles from his backpack.
It was a full moon and I could see that he really enjoyed hiking with his shiny new Leki poles and he never slipped or fell once all night long...:D

jk

Pedaling Fool
01-04-2008, 14:33
those belong to mrc237. he made me pose with them just for the photo
You forgot to mention that he held a gun to your head:D

Lone Wolf
01-04-2008, 14:35
You forgot to mention that he held a gun to your head:D

yeah that too

rscnole
01-04-2008, 15:13
I hiked without poles for a number of years but i'm glad i made the switch. I have a set of Komperdells that i love, they are great for ups and downs and especially stream crossings in winter when you REALLY don't want to fall in. Plus its easier to set up a tarp when you are carrying the supports with you.

Jay B.
01-04-2008, 15:32
I would'nt think of going into the woods without my poles. I have the anti-shock which are also great on downhill, a great help on the knees. Just hike some on the AT and see how many thru hikers use them!! I bet close to 100% and those that don't start with them are using them shortly after they begin when they see the advantages. The foam grip are also eaiser on the hands and nice in freezing temps. I would stay away from anything hard rubber. Jay B.:sun :sun :sun

Lone Wolf
01-04-2008, 15:33
I would'nt think of going into the woods without my poles. I have the anti-shock which are also great on downhill, a great help on the knees. Just hike some on the AT and see how many thru hikers use them!! I bet close to 100% and those that don't start with them are using them shortly after they begin when they see the advantages. The foam grip are also eaiser on the hands and nice in freezing temps. I would stay away from anything hard rubber. Jay B.:sun :sun :sun

i must be missing somethin'

mrc237
01-04-2008, 15:56
I ain't got no gun ain't got no damn leki's:D

sheepdog
01-04-2008, 19:11
I use old bamboo ski poles. I cut them down slightly to fit. With out them I'm sure I would have taken some nasty spills. They have over 300 miles on them and look as good as they did when I bought them at Good Will for $3. My sons both strong young bucks with great balance do not use any poles. Sometimes they really tick me off. Espically when they jump from rock to rock.

Venture
01-04-2008, 19:47
Anytime I'm going up or down, I am glad I have them. Only time I find them slightly annoying is on level trail. Can't remember what I used to do with my hands?

At first they can be awkward but when you get used to them they are great. They help when fording streams! Give you a good upper body workout too, not that we'll be needing that!:)

kayak karl
01-04-2008, 19:49
i had a pair. left them at the top of pinnacale peak. didn't miss them until was down. i don't know what the big deal is?

MtnBikerGuy
01-04-2008, 22:19
Never used them and never understood why people even used them.....until I tired them. I have used them on the AT, down to the river and back in the Grand Canyon, along the Chisos in Big Bend, as well as other places. I normally even take them with me on day hikes....won't leave home without them.

Terry7
01-05-2008, 13:00
I would not hike with out my lekis!

BigStu
01-05-2008, 13:15
After two broken ankles (separate incidents) and a dislocated kneecap doing various sports, walking with poles on particularly steep sections help to keep me going - without them I would have to stick to the gentle slopes of the Cotswolds rather than get adventurous .... and that's just not going to happen.

Say what you like about 'em - I'm glad I have a pair.

(They are also useful for prodding my eighteen year old son from a safe distance :D )

Lyle
01-05-2008, 13:28
Have used poles for several years now. First REI, now PacerPoles.

HIGHLY recommend the PacerPoles - fantastic innovation, much more comfortable than the typical grip. Used, recommended and sold by Brian Frankle of ULA Equipment.

Check them out:

http://www.pacerpole.com/index.html

warren doyle
01-05-2008, 13:33
One, $1 ski pole bought at thrift stores. Reuse/recycle.

It was a great help yesterday descending the snow/ice from Mt. Minsi to Delaware Water Gap.

Only fell once during my 2005 AT thru-hike. I credit my dancing and one used ski pole for this.

Mother's Finest
01-05-2008, 13:41
I voted no, the poster asked those who voted no to say why.

Because I do not need them. My legs and feet are designed to support and propel my body. The additional 30-35 lbs of pack weight is insignifigant to my frame. Why would I carry two sticks to help me do something I am perfectly capable of accomplishing myself???

Snow/ice conditions and some stream crossings are a different story. But finding a third leg in the woods is pretty simple.....

peace
mf

Tin Man
01-05-2008, 13:44
One, $1 ski pole bought at thrift stores. Reuse/recycle.

It was a great help yesterday descending the snow/ice from Mt. Minsi to Delaware Water Gap.

Only fell once during my 2005 AT thru-hike. I credit my dancing and one used ski pole for this.

Off topic: Warren, did you sign in at Wiley Shelter this year? Saw your name in the register last week.

atraildreamer
01-05-2008, 14:21
Went to Wally World the other day. The good news: They now carry a cork-handled (more ergonomic?) hiking pole for $9.87. :clap

Now for the bad news: They took the little compass off the top of the handle! :(

Programbo
01-05-2008, 14:50
I don`t know how 10`s of thousands of people managed to hike on trails for decades up until recently (And walk in general for 10`s of thousands of years) without using treking poles...We weren`t all falling all over the place or breaking our ankles or knees either..In fact those sort of injuries seem to be more common now that people are using poles...Poles have become popular for the same reason internal frame packs have..People would see photos and videos of mountaineers in the Alps or Himalayas using them and figure.."Well they must be superior or those guys wouldn`t be using them" and then manufacturers would feed on that and throw mass marketing at people hammering that idea home..The fact is for places like the high mountains internal frame packs and poles ARE the better choice because that is what they are designed for..But on open trails neither internal frame packs or hiking poles are the best choice...90% of the people I see every weekend with their poles are either carrying them..dragging them or just pointlessly poking at the ground with them

rafe
01-05-2008, 14:56
I don`t know how 10`s of thousands of people managed to hike on trails for decades up until recently (And walk in general for 10`s of thousands of years) without using treking poles...We weren`t all falling all over the place or breaking our ankles or knees either..

Ah, but recreational walking with 30-40 lb packs on ragged, crazy-azzed trails like the AT is a relatively new thing. Plus, you have more folks doing it that aren't young or super-fit. So yeah, humans walked over crazy paths 5,000 years ago but they didn't go back to a comfy cubicle on Monday morning!

As for two legs being sufficient... consider the Riddle of the Sphinx. Most mammals that live in the woods use four legs, still.

Tin Man
01-05-2008, 14:56
I don`t know how 10`s of thousands of people managed to hike on trails for decades up until recently (And walk in general for 10`s of thousands of years) without using treking poles...

I agree. And I don't know how they managed to hike on trails with heavier packs, shelters, sleeping bags, etc.

oops56
01-05-2008, 15:02
Well some how i miss the boat. Moses carried a walking stick :confused:

bredler
01-05-2008, 15:53
Went to Wally World the other day. The good news: They now carry a cork-handled (more ergonomic?) hiking pole for $9.87. :clap

Now for the bad news: They took the little compass off the top of the handle! :(


For that price ($20 a pair) I might as well try them. Worst case scenario I give them away. Also gonna grab a walking stick (I like that idea better than trekking poles).

BigStu
01-05-2008, 16:19
I don`t know how 10`s of thousands of people managed to hike on trails for decades up until recently (And walk in general for 10`s of thousands of years) without using treking poles...

This could turn into an endless discussion of facts and figures and general BS but I do wonder (note: wonder) if improvements in gear, including hiking poles, has enabled people to have a longer hiking 'career' and so get out into the hills when, perhaps, there predecessors might have been sitting on a porch smoking a pipe or down the pub having a pint or two.

For myself, the years of rugby, road-running and several acts of youthful craziness has left me a legacy of some very bashed-up joints but at 52 I am not ready to allow the joints to seize up and the poles help to make those steep ascents and descents possible and, more importantly, safe.


90% of the people I see every weekend with their poles are either carrying them..dragging them or just pointlessly poking at the ground with them

Couldn't agree more that some people would be well advised to check out about using their poles to best effect ...however... I do carry mine if I am between sections where they are needed and I can't be arsed to stop and put them back into my pack.

rafe
01-05-2008, 16:36
Poles aren't necessary or useful all the time. I'll happily admit that. On an exceedingly flat section where the footing is realiable, I'm likely to carry them. If the section is long enough I might even fold the poles and strap them to my pack. On super-steep sections where hands are needed (think Lehigh Gap or Dragon's Tooth) the same applies. But these extremes are surprisingly rare on the AT. The vast middle-ground is amenable to hiking with poles.

Del Q
01-05-2008, 16:39
I like them. Great for self-defense (hot subject these days), pushing back stickers and spider webs, seem to help me keep a nice steady stride / rhythm. A hiker described them to me as having 4-wheel drive, kind of agree there. Pain uphill, nice to have downhill.

Del Q

warren doyle
01-05-2008, 16:50
Off topic: Warren, did you sign in at Wiley Shelter this year? Saw your name in the register last week.

Yes, I was doing a section hike around those parts in late August. Was sorry to see that the trail has been relocated around the 'Gate to Heaven' and its interesting human/institutional history.

I will complete my 15th AT hike (7th section-hike) in early April 2010 when I go from Rt. 55 to Bulls Bridge. I'm ending this particular hike in the state where my AT hiking first started.

rafe
01-05-2008, 16:52
... but I do wonder (note: wonder) if improvements in gear, including hiking poles, has enabled people to have a longer hiking 'career' and so get out into the hills when, perhaps, there predecessors might have been sitting on a porch smoking a pipe or down the pub having a pint or two.

No need to wonder, it's a fact. That's not to say old pharts must have the best and newest gear... but it doesn't hurt. :D

cocoa
01-05-2008, 16:54
Ah, Trek Poles. Monkey and I started out without them. We thought they were stupid. We refused to spend money on them. I kept hearing about how overloaded hikers would leave stuff at the beginning of the AT and I figured that maybe I would find some. Well, I didn't, but I did find a stick. I kept losing my stick, and then I would have to find another one. Luckily, I was in the woods all the time, so that was fairly easy. Sometimes, if I couldn't find a stick, I would just pretend to be holding trek poles. This actually, in my mind, seemed to improve my balance. Then I met Pirate at Walasi-Yi and he has a sticker on his water bottle with some type of profane anti-trek pole message on it. I heartily agreed with him and we had a good laugh.

Monkey found a really nice stick, and he scraped off all the bark and oiled it and got a cane tip for the bottom.

Then one day, we were coming down into the NOC on a real windy, rainy, muddy day...and that is some descent, especially on newly acquired trail legs. It took me forever. And you know how there seem to be outfitters strategically placed just after you have some type of bad experience that you think gear will fix? Well, I spent $109 on a pair of those Leki titanium trek poles. It felt really awkward at first, but once I got the hang of it (and once I remembered to take them with me when I left a shelter), I really started to like them.

When we got to Pearisburg, Monkey had some pain in his knees and he chucked his sweet stick into the New River, and bought a pair of trek poles himself.

About halfway through the trip, we swapped out our heavy Mountain Hardware PCT-2 tent for a tarp and I used them all the time to pitch the tarp. I also hung my socks on them to dry at the end of the day and I also chucked them at the vicious red squirrels in Maine when they were trying to get into our food bag.

If I had known that I would want to walk with sticks, I probably would have just got a couple of old ski poles, although I do appreciate the light weight and sturdy structure of my Lekis. Also, from walking with the poles, I got really ripped in my upper arms by the end of the trip. :)

tazie
01-05-2008, 17:14
I've been a walker, hiker and runner for almost 30yrs and have never used them. I hike the AT regularly here in Maryland, and since the terrain is relatively flat (but yes, we do have a few good climbs, Weverton Cliffs and Annapolis Rocks come to mind) don't feel I need them. I do pick up an occasional walking stick, off the trail, and will use that for leverage on the steeper parts of the climb. It does help. And then I toss it back when I'm done. Of the earth, and back to the earth...works for me.

Tin Man
01-05-2008, 17:28
Yes, I was doing a section hike around those parts in late August. Was sorry to see that the trail has been relocated around the 'Gate to Heaven' and its interesting human/institutional history.

I will complete my 15th AT hike (7th section-hike) in early April 2010 when I go from Rt. 55 to Bulls Bridge. I'm ending this particular hike in the state where my AT hiking first started.

We thought the trail had been relocated after discovering so blazes painted over with dark paint. It was a little difficult to follow in the snow as the path is not so "broken in" as it is in other sections. What is the 'Gate to Heaven'?

BigStu
01-05-2008, 18:10
Like the questions of whether to sleep in a tent or a hammock, filter/boil/chant healing remedies over your water or just drink it surely the use of poles is merely another personal choice with no right or wrong answer.

For those that have no need of them - fantastic :banana for those that get benefit from them, is there a problem with that ? :rolleyes:

Is anyone a lesser hiker for picking up a pair of poles ? Not-bloody-likely !

I get the feeling that there may be some for whom The Great Pole Question is a bit like guitar players that get sniffy at the thought of others using a capo, or sneer at the thought of those that have not learned how to read music .... my reply is simple...none of your business - doesn't hurt you, so bog off :D

Dogwood
01-05-2008, 23:38
I also have pondered the pros and cons of trekking poles. I find trekking poles or a hiking staff indispensable when I know I'm facing a lot of deep swift fords like during early spring run-off or when hiking in/across deep snow/ice fields on steep slopes. For those who have a special medical condition(ankles, feet, knees, back, etc.) they can be beneficial and even necessary. Trekking poles can help establish a hiking rhythm, aid in ascents/descents, and minimize the forces on your body with each step. They can be used be used to erect a tarp, hammock, or sometimes a tarp/tent. This can result in carrying less overall wt. and enables gear to be utilized in more than one way. However, not all shelters/tents are designed to be used with or have their included tent poles swapped out with trekking poles.

Manufacturers of trekking poles market their gear to lead us to believe that we always need their gear to hike or they always save wt. or they always save energy etc. I don't necessarily agree. It depends. Remember, they are in business to sell you their merchandise. They are only going to give you the upside of trekking poles. I'll give an example. My primary shelter is a Mountain Laurel Designs tarp. I don't normally use trekking poles. If I use tarp poles to set up my shelter I'll be carrying 2.6 oz(that's one 28" rear and one 42" front carbon fiber collapsable pole, there are other tarp poles on the market that are even a bit lighter). If I leave the tarp poles home and erect my tarp with my trekking poles(Komperdell Airshock) I'll be carrying about 7 oz. (these trekking poles are some of the lightest made). Using the tarp poles instead of the trekking poles SAVE me 4.4 oz wt.! Of course, to many hikers this wt. savings is not a big deal, but my pt. is that trekking poles don't always save wt.. It depends on if you already use/require trekking poles. Also, my tarp poles cost $40 while my trekking poles cost $165( although these are some of the priciest trekking poles available). I can make similar pts. about saving energy and minimizing impact upon your joints. On my last thru-hike of the Vermont(Long) Trl. I started with trekking poles but decided to send them home part way into the hike because they kept getting hung up on brush and rocks on the narrow trl. I found myself carrying them more than trekking with them. On a wider trail like the PCT or many sections of the AT they would have been fine. I also found I was making more noise with them than without them. Consequently, I saw a lot of the rear ends of wildlife or no wildlife at all when I was using them.

In the end, you're the one who is best able to decide if trekking poles are best for your particular hike. After all it is you who has to pay for, carry, and use the poles. My advice is to borrow/rent(REI rents gear cheaply) a pair and get out and hike with them. Then decide. Happy hiking.

ki0eh
01-07-2008, 17:07
It's a good thing I didn't follow LW's lead and say I *never* use hiking poles. I had to cross 35' glare ice over a stream on Mid State Trail in northern PA to get to our cabin, MST follows our driveway through the creek. I keep a rock bar to reorganize rocks in the creek that look ready to take out fog lights or oil pan.

So, lacking anything else, I used the rock bar as a pole to anchor myself. Makes nice divots in the ice too.

Moral, if there is one: If you must use a trekking pole, consider a rock bar. (and, while you're at it, stay in PA a while to use it. :D)

snowsurfer
01-07-2008, 17:20
trekking poles saved my life on knifes edge on katahdin

ScottP
01-07-2008, 19:01
They take more energy over a long day, and if you're in good shape they're not nessecary.

leeki pole
01-07-2008, 19:09
as my trail name implies, yes I use a single leeki (mispronounced) as I like an umbrella as well, heck I'm a redneck:)

PecosBackpacker
01-08-2008, 15:22
I use them as third and sometimes fourth legs. They help me balance on rough and slick terrain and allow me to check holes without sticking my hand or foot in it. Plus, I have a bad knee so, to me, it feels like they are taking a little stress off of it.

Froggy
01-09-2008, 00:04
Okay, y'all who use these pole thingies, got a question for ya.

What do you do with them when you're in town? Like in a restaraunt or market or someplace or hitchhiking?

And for you folks with dogs, when the dog's on a leash, what about then?

rafe
01-09-2008, 00:07
In town, poles are folded (collapsed) and strapped to my pack.

bredler
01-13-2008, 01:52
I've decided against them. not needed. I'm going away from tech. I was led astray by shiny new equipment, heresay, and advertisement. I got a pack, something to sleep under, maps, food, warm clothes...that's good enough.

gungho
01-13-2008, 01:58
For years I used a hand cut cedar walking stick. It was a good friend, still have it but it is retired now.

I use 2 trekking poles. Sometimes they are in the way, but my knees just don't handle the downhill sections that well anymore. They are also nice for stream crossings with rock hopping. Excellent balance is better though.

I usually collapse and pack them for long sections of flat trail and road walks.
I have used the Komperdell poles now for about 4 or 5 years. I could'nt imagine hiking some of the trails without them. I have really bad knees and they are extremely helpful going down steep ups and downs,as well as boulder and stream crossings:banana

GGS2
01-13-2008, 02:06
I don't use them. Partly because I just never got around to getting any, but also because I don't like what they do to the trail. On the rocky bits of the Bruce Trail where I have been lately, there are pole tip scars on almost all of the rocks in the tread. The only time I would like to have them is on clay ups and downs (especially on steep switchback turns) in the wet, or descending big steps. We'll see how long I hold out, or my knees.

slow
01-13-2008, 02:24
Be good to beat gators in fl with but ...oak works just fine.:D

Strategic
01-16-2008, 12:40
Hana Hanger's post made me think about what I would do if I take just one hiking stick (as in a larger, wooden one) and fly. Obviously it will not fit in my backpack, but I would imagine I could have it be a seperate piece of checked luggage. Does my assumption seem correct?

There are still some collapsible staffs produced if you want to go that way. Check most of the major outfitters and you'll find several made by the same companies as trekking poles. I used a Leki Wading Lite staff for several years (replacing a fine old Paulownia-wood staff I made a good twenty years ago now) because it collapsed enough to fit in luggage or pack (just as trekking poles will.) I'm a section hiker so that's a fairly important charateristic, as I spend a lot of time throwing my gear into cars, busses, trains, etc. and just couldn't take a wooden staff in those situation.

That said, I now use Leki trekking poles and am more than happy with the switch. Beyond the answers that others have already given (better stability, climb and descent aid, etc.) I'll tell you a little story as to why:

I was on a section hike NOBO from NY17a back in 2006, using my Leki staff, and it significantly failed to save me from a rather unpleasant accident. I was descending the secondary summit of Arden Mountain and slipped on loose dirt on a switchback about twenty feet from the bottom. This is, of course, quite a normal kind of occurrence on a hike, but it was just the beginning of my fun. I slid on my left foot, on the opposite side from my staff. As I tried to arrest the developing slide off the downhill side of the trail, the right side of my pack caught on a projecting branch and spun me to the left. With nothing in my left hand to plant and save myself, I ended up doing a nice swan dive down Arden Mountain and landing (just past a 180* flip) on my left shoulder, cracking the shoulder blade in half and sliding the remaining ten feet to the bottom. I ended up having to strap the pack back on and hike out to NY17 (about 1.5 miles) while unable to raise my left arm from my side, and I can tell you that descending the Agony Grind that way was one of the more "interesting" (and least desirable) things I've ever done on the trail. All preventable if I'd just had two poles.

After I'd recovered, my brother-in-law and sometime hiking partner talked me into trying a set of his trekking poles on a day hike. It was like being four-footed, quite a change and far better than I had ever imagined (I'd been using a single staff since I was a twelve year old Boyscout, for goodness sake, and I'm well over forty now.) I ordered a set of titanium Lekis and have never regretted it.

Strategic
01-16-2008, 12:54
No need to wonder, it's a fact. That's not to say old pharts must have the best and newest gear... but it doesn't hurt. :D

I'm with you both on that one. I'd be hard pressed to carry what I did when I started hiking back in the 70's (about 40-45lbs for a week out, which was light back then.) Now I can get my packweight down to about 25lbs for a week due to the lighter gear. It's what makes it possible from an arthritic middle-aged section hiker like me to keep going.

homebrew
01-17-2008, 12:50
I went through two pairs of poles by Maine. They really helped me with balance on uneven terain-98.5% of the AT. The last 200 miles I used a single wooden staff I whittled from a downed Maple tree at Gull Pond Lodge, Maine. Either way they can really help especialy when desending steep trails or trying to power your way up that last big climb of the day.

camojack
01-17-2008, 20:40
FWIW, my take on trekking poles (or "trail crutches" as I call them) is that they help on the uphills by adding arm strength to the effort, and on downhills they reduce the impact on the knees...something that was absolutely imperative to me before I had knee surgery in 2006, and still a good idea as far as I'm concerned. YMMV...

HIKER7s
01-18-2008, 11:15
THEY have saved me many times from turning an ankle to destroying a knee

tha
01-18-2008, 18:52
I agree with canerunner when I was younger I didn't carry anything than started using a wooden staff more for defence than I crushed an ankle in an accident . I started to use poles to relieve the stress on my knees and ankle They are great and I wouldn't think of hiking without now. The Docs who put my ankle back togather said I probably wouldn't ever hike again. Thanks to the poles I was on Springer a year later.

Cowboy, That is great to hear! I also crushed my ankle (almost lost my foot) 3 years ago and was told the same thing. I had been considering poles and will now try them for sure. I haven't gotten back to Springer yet, but I'm working on it. I was planning to thru this year, but my hiking partner got hung up overseas. Maybe next year. I am certainly training for it.

bloodmountainman
01-18-2008, 21:07
Love the poles! Great for downhills; takes stress off the old knees. Give a little more upper body strenght to steep uphill climbs. Good for spider web, snakes, etc. Highly recommend on long distance hikes!