A Tribute to Trekking Poles

Before I started this journey, I was looking for reasons to not have to use trekking poles. They’re dorky and cheesey. I didn’t want to be stooging around the trail with two ski poles. I didn’t think I’d need them, and I didn’t want to use them. So I was going to go with a single pole, or staff, or whatever it is called. I went to REI to check them out, and that’s when I started to change my mind about the hiking world’s dorkiest, but possibly most important item.

The REI guy told me a bunch of interesting facts that he probably made up. They were something along the lines of going uphill you save 35% of your energy, and downhill you can save up to 50%. I didn’t believe the guy at the time, I thought he was just trying to sell the trekking poles. Anyway, he succeeded, and I purchased some poles for use in my adventure.

As I started my journey and I approached my first ascent, I realized just how much you can rely on these cheese tools. It really is amazing, even if you look like a full blown stooge. I thought my upper body would not get any work out on this trip, but I was dead wrong. Going uphill you can really drive with your back and shoulders through the poles. And coming downhill, you can control your descent and put some of the energy into the poles as opposed to your legs. That counts for something, especially now as I begin to feel the aches of walking many miles a day.

So next time you see some dork roaming around with trekking poles, don’t think he’s a loser – because he’s probably a pretty cool stooge.


Trail Update #9 – An Unexpected Stop

So right now I am at my aunt and uncle’s house on the computer. A very unexpected stop, but a very welcome one. My Uncle Mark and cousin Taylor met me near Rockfish Gap yesterday and we went to a beautiful campground and did some bbq’ing. We had talked about meeting up somewhere along the trail, so it was a nice little break from the trail.

Unfortunately, the weather was again pretty terrible. So we were in the cold and rain for most of the day. Then Uncle Mark proposed returning to the Richmond area for the night. After some thought, I figured why not? I could get a good sleep, get out of the rain, and visit some family. So here I sit, getting some blog updating in (I updated plants and animals, Beard Chronicles, and added some pics to some earlier posts – check them out). And it appears the weather may actually be turning for the good. I’ll get back on the trail later this afternoon and pull a later hike into the night.

On the way to the house last night, we stopped at REI. A very necessary stop. Just in the past week or so, some of my gear has started to feel the wear and tear. My tent seams are leaking a little bit, so I got some sealant, and then there are my trekking poles. Sadly, I no longer have the same poles I began my journey with. About three days ago, I realized I lost one of the metal tips on a pole, resulting in much slipping and sliding. Not a huge deal, but something I would need to remedy. Then yesterday morning, I awoke only to find what I first thought was foliage on the handles of my trekking poles. However, after closer scrutiny, I realized the “foliage” was the remnants of the wrist straps. Some creature (likely mice) had devoured both wrist straps, nearly in entirety, throughout the night. Might not sound like a big deal, but a lot of your weight is transferred into the straps, so they are very necessary when hiking. So anyway, my trekking poles, in a matter of about 3 days, became a liability.

I went into REI and asked a guy if I could get some replacement straps and metal tips. To my surprise, he said no, and told me to instead just return them for a new pair. Honestly, I didn’t really want to do that – I feel like that’s taking advantage of their awesome policy. But he told me no, go ahead and do it – so I did it. It was kind of crazy, I gave them two delapadated, old trekking poles, and they gave me a pair of perfectly new ones. After being an “owner” of REI for about three or four years, that was the first item I ever returned. So good work REI – you guys did well. The only bad thing is I lost the sentimental value of my old trekking poles. But oh well, I still have over 1,000 miles to put some wear and tear into these new ones!


Hoping for better weather in the week or so ahead! Next stop is Luray, Virginia!