Thursday, October 11, 2007

Pacific Crest Trail - Hiking / Trekking poles

TRASHED! I have put about 800 miles on my REI TRAVERSE hiking poles, and they have never let me down; but now they are almost trashed. I could put new tips on them, but instead I went out and bought a new pair of BLACK DIAMONDS at REI in San Diego. They have the flick lock and the contour grips. They are a little lighter, but still strong and they should last my entire trip on the Pacific Crest Trail; or at least I hope so. Yesterday, I hiked about 28 miles, training and they worked great.

Though hiking has become part of the air I breathe, I was so into rock climbing for such a long time, I really didn’t give too much thought about the use of hiking/trekking poles. I would see some people using them, but again never thought about them as a crucial part of what I would someday be using. Well, someday is here, and guess what, I use them.

I had always used something in the way of a hiking stick as a kid. I usually just looked around, found what would work, and that was it. Back then it was just for fun. I remember hiking with my folks at a very young age. I wanted to find out what was under almost every rock, and I think my mom or dad were worried about what I might find, so hence, the hiking stick. From then on I was never without one.

Because I have always used a hiking stick and carried it in my right hand I found that over the years when going on long treks it sometimes threw my rhythm off. The more serious I became about hiking, I noticed that when I got a certain rhythm going, using just one stick wasn’t enough, so I decided to try the poles.

I started with hiking/trekking poles about two years ago. I bought my first set at REI; REI TRAVERSE poles. At first I admit they felt a little awkward, but the more I used them the better they felt and now I never go hiking without them.

I can’t tell you all the times they have saved me from falling. It’s not that I’m clumsy, but when going up a steep grade poling with my arms and pushing with my legs, the poles really help me out. Going down hill they help slow my pace, which takes some of the strain off my legs.

I know I will not be the first or last hiker that has slipped while crossing a river, and the poles have really given me that extra balance. I have used them in deep snow, and as added security traversing across slushy or icy sections. A section of trail doesn’t have to be steep to take a tumble after slipping, and a twisted ankle is not on my agenda. I have been there. They have also been my (shelter from the storm) tarp tent poles. They are like having another pair of arms and legs, and because I hike alone I need all the help I can get.

I know from everything I have been reading concerning the Pacific Crest Trail, and others, that the equipment hikers’ use is a real personal choice, but the hiking/trekking poles do the job for me.
Anyone out there with experience using poles pro and con, I would love to hear from you. Which ones have worked for you?

Thanks again for reading!

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