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.