Trekking poles enabled me to hike the Pacific Crest Trail and other trails. I had “runner’s knee” prior to long-distance hiking, and I owe any trail accomplishments to trekking poles. However, there are other uses for them besides saving your knees.
1) Tarp set-up. Because the poles are adjustable, you can have multi-length tarp supports.
2) Stream crossings. Some of us know how easy it is to fall from slick rocks staggered in streams. And how quickly you can take an unplanned bath when you step on an underwater rock that chooses to wobble. Trekking poles provide stability. Prod with your poles, then step with confidence.
3) Defense. I’ve never encountered wild dogs, or a mean animal, but I know such critters are out there. I feel safer having poles. Snakes, including rattlers, hang out by rocks; poles make it easy to bang about, driving them off.
4) Splints: Joslyn, who writes the blog, UltraLight Backpacking or Bust!, reminded me that adjustable hiking poles make good splints.
5) Upper body conditioning. As your hiking legs get stronger, your upper body becomes weaker, at least on long hikes. If you push off regularly, especially to drive yourself up hills, you will maintain upper body strength.
That’s the mighty Columbia shot from the center of The Bridge of The Gods. PCT thru-hikers cross this river, which separates Oregon and Washington.
Great points. I bought a pair of trekking poles (altus light ascent 8.3 oz each) and won’t go without them. I was hiking up loose gravel in a badlands like area of Bolivia with some kids and they were life savers for them. When I go solo I do notice the distributed effort as my arms are sore (I go quickly and really push off with my poles).
Now of course Ray I have to ask: Did the lekis really help with stability while crossing the Columbia?
Ha! Good one, Paul. PCT thru-hikers pay no fee and are allowed to walk over the bridge.