Five Other Uses For Trekking Poles

Using Trekking Poles

Using Trekking Poles (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Leki Trekking Poles

Leki Trekking Poles

kearsarge pass

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.

Related articles

Five Other Uses For Trekking Poles

Using Trekking Poles

Using Trekking Poles (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, Bridge of the Gods, Oregon-Washington

Hiking with trekking poles--other uses
Leki Trekking Poles

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.

The Continental Divide Trail

Hiking the Continental Divide TrailBackpacking the Continental Divide Trail

Continental Divide Trail

Continental Divide Trail (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

CDT

CDT (Photo credit: asafantman)

English: Looking north on the Continental Divi...

English: Looking north on the Continental Divide Trail in the Weminuche Wilderness between the Palisade Meadows cutoff and the Knife Edge – of the Rocky Mountains in Colorado. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Continental Divide Trail (CDT) begins at the Mexican border in New Mexico and runs 3100 miles through New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, part of Idaho, and Montana. It is not well-marked and is still a work in progress. Many thru-hikers start at the Canadian border and hike south; others will begin in the south and head north.

If you attempt to thru-hike this trail, carry a GPS, become good at navigation–map and compass–and go with a partner. I haven’t finished this trail but hiking it alone, most of my thinking time was spent trying to confirm where I was and trying not to get lost.  I did get lost several times and had to backtrack to figure things out.

Study the CDT website: www.cdtrail.org  At the CDT website you can learn about the trail and buy maps.

Read thru-hiker journals: www.trailjournals.com  An excellent way to prepare is to read the journals of successful CDT thru-hikers. Go to the site above and look at the journals; print one out and study it. Most journalists discuss gear, navigation, how they handled snow, the towns where they resupplied, techniques, etc.

Invest in a bookwww.booksforhikers.com On the left side, scroll down to CDT. The most helpful book for me was Yogi’s CDT Handbook (Planning Guide and Town Guide) by Jackie McDonnell. Request the 2010 edition.

You won’t meet many thru-hikers on this trail. I didn’t meet any, although I didn’t finish. To finish in one season, you need to average about twenty miles a day; there were days I couldn’t do that, mostly because of snow. But it is a great experience to hike this “King of Trails.”

Hiking Trails Near You

Taking a Lokg Hike on the Appalachian Trail

Hiking trails in Trail area

Hiking trails in Trail area (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Taking a long hike on Pacific Crest TrailYou may not realize it, but there are lots of hiking trails near you.

The first place to look for them are in your state’s parks. I live in Massachusetts, and when I google Massachusetts State Parks, I’ll be directed to the Department of Conservation and Recreation. Here I can explore all parks by name, study trail maps, order guides, contact the DCR, etc. Campers can even make reservations. What’s in your state?

Hiking bloggers “coach”Rick and Tom Mangan suggest another way to find local hikes. They use the site  http://www.localhikes.com as seen in their article. When I click on this “local hikes” site, I discover 42 hikes in the greater Boston area. I can drill down to an individual hike of my choice. What’s in your area?

Several years ago, I thru-hiked the North-South Trail in Rhode Island. I went to the above site and found 14 hikes listed in the greater Providence area and, sure enough, the North-South Trail was among them. The site gave a complete summary of the trail to include comments and ratings from hikers.

I checked out the Mid-State Trail in Massachusetts, another local trail that I’d thru-hiked some years back. As I read through the summary, I had fond memories. I browsed other listed trails and had no idea there were so many trail-hikes this close to me. This is an excellent site for hikers and families.

HY-OH: Hike Your Own Hike

Taking a Long Hike up Mt. Katahdin, Appalachian Trail

Mt. Katahdin–Maine

English: The Franconia Ridge, a section of the...

English: The Franconia Ridge, a section of the Appalachian Trail. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

HY-OH is a long-distance hiker’s mantra. It stands for Hike Your Own Hike, and here’s how it comes about.

You meet some fellow thru-hikers on the trail and start hiking together every day. One day your fellow hikers want to go into town early. They see a yellow-blazed trail that cuts some time off the official white-blazed trail. You object, but they sell you on their idea. Mistake. Hike your own hike.

Perhaps you want to learn more about flora in the region and wish to take more time examining wildflowers. The others are impatient and puzzled by this. So what! Hike your own hike.

You pair off with the hiker you enjoy being with most. One day he says, “I’ve never been to NYC. Man, that’s one place I’ve gotta see. Can you show me around when we get near that area?” The last thing you have in mind is a congested metropolis. Be careful–hike your own hike.

You’ve made a committment to yourself to complete this thru-hike. Your thru-hike. You like these guys you tramp with. One of them may become a close friend in the years ahead. But you are destined to fail in your quest, if you hike some other person’s hike and not your own. If you have a bit slower pace and struggle to keep up, you will hike yourself into injury. If you miss out on what you had planned to see or do, you will regret it later and may become disillusioned in the rough days ahead. HY-OH. Hike your own hike.

In the picture, that’s my hiking buddy, Hank, on the right.

The Continental Divide Trail

Hiking the Continental Divide TrailBackpacking the Continental Divide TrailThe Continental Divide Trail (CDT) begins at the Mexican border in New Mexico and runs 3100 miles through New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, part of Idaho, and Montana. It is not well-marked and is still a work in progress. Many thru-hikers start at the Canadian border and hike south; others will begin in the south and head north.

If you attempt to thru-hike this trail, carry a GPS, become good at navigation–map and compass–and go with a partner. I haven’t finished this trail but hiking it alone, most of my thinking time was spent trying to confirm where I was and trying not to get lost.  I did get lost several times and had to backtrack to figure things out.

Study the CDT website: www.cdtrail.org  At the CDT website you can learn about the trail and buy maps.

Read thru-hiker journals: www.trailjournals.com  An excellent way to prepare is to read the journals of successful CDT thru-hikers. Go to the site above and look at the journals; print one out and study it. Most journalists discuss gear, navigation, how they handled snow, the towns where they resupplied, techniques, etc.

Invest in a bookwww.booksforhikers.com On the left side, scroll down to CDT. The most helpful book for me was Yogi’s CDT Handbook (Planning Guide and Town Guide) by Jackie McDonnell. Request the 2010 edition.

You won’t meet many thru-hikers on this trail. I didn’t meet any, although I didn’t finish. To finish in one season, you need to average about twenty miles a day; there were days I couldn’t do that, mostly because of snow. But it is a great experience to hike this “King of Trails.”

Shelter or Tent?

Appalachian Trail shelters and tents

Most hiking trails don’t provide shelters. The Appalachian Trail and The Long Trail (Vermont) have many shelters.Hiking and tenting on long-distance trails

They are convenient, but a tent, especially for sleeping, has advantages.

Privacy – You aren’t a stuffed sardine when it gets crowded.

Warmth – A tent with a rainfly is warmer than an open shelter.

Better Sleep – You are not poked, or kicked, or outsnored.

No Mice – Those critters can drive you nuts!

So why choose a shelter to sleep in?

Convenience – Less hassle. No need to unpack and set up a tent; no need to dismantle and re-pack the tent in the morning, possibly in the rain.

Clothesline – Many shelters have them already. Easy to rig up, or simply hang garments from nails and hooks provided. Clothes are protected from outside weather.

Ease – Can sit and lean against a wall to read, journal, contemplate (I’m sore, I’m tired, I wish I had a pizza and beer.)

Camaraderie!

Shelter or Tent?

 

Appalachian Trail shelters and tents

Most hiking trails don’t provide shelters. The Appalachian Trail and The Long Trail (Vermont) have many shelters.Hiking and tenting on long-distance trails

They are convenient, but a tent, especially for sleeping, has advantages.

        Privacy – You aren’t a stuffed sardine when it gets crowded.

        Warmth – A tent with a rainfly is warmer than an open shelter.

        Better Sleep – You are not poked, or kicked, or outsnored.

        No Mice – Those critters can drive you nuts!

So why choose a shelter to sleep in? 

        Convenience – Less hassle. No need to unpack and set up a tent; no need to dismantle and re-pack the tent in the morning, possibly in the rain.

        Clothesline – Many shelters have them already. Easy to rig up, or simply hang garments from nails and hooks provided. Clothes are protected from outside weather.

        Ease – Can sit and lean against a wall to read, journal, contemplate (I’m sore, I’m tired, I wish I had a pizza and beer.)

        Camaraderie!