Trekking Poles

Half Dome – Yosemite Musing
I am a major fan of trekking poles.  I see more Americans on the trails with them every year. They have been standard equipment in Europe for a long time. Walking without poles will cause the blood in your hands to pool and you will get “sausage finger” after a while. Not so with poles. They will transfer ~ 8% (not 20%) of the work from your lower body to your upper going uphill, but they earn their keep on the downhill.

If you are over 30 your knees have been pounded and you will appreciate the poles on the long downhill. All of your stopping is done with your knees – cartilage. By using 2 poles you are like Mt goat. I prefer to use a fanny pack for my Half Dome hikes and I collapse the poles and secure them with Velcro straps at the “high left” and “low right” part of the pack. They do not move and are very secure. If you are using a backpack, put them tips up and secure them inside your pack. Do not carry them outside since they can they can be dislodged.  I love LEKI Makalu poles ($129). They have a spring shock absorber and are less than 1/2 pound each. While the twist tightening mechanism is a bit awkward I find that frequent adjustments are just not needed. Set them once for the long uphill (shorten them to maintain a 45 degree angle elbow bend) and lengthen them for downhills. The LEKI poles are identical left and right – but the straps are made for each hand. Enter the strap from below and cradle the top of the pole just below the top. Tighten the strap so that you body weight rests on the strap – not clutching the pole in a “death grip.” Otherwise you may suffer carpel tunnel pain after several hours. I like to use bicycle gloves to cushion the rubbing in the crotch of my hand. LEKI is the world’s leading manufacturer of ski poles, hiking poles and Nordic Walking poles. They are warranted for life. No questions.
Unrelated thought worth quoting: “Hey Rocky, watch me pull a rabbit out of my hat.” “Bullwinkle that trick never works.” – Rocky and Friends TV cartoon series.

*Mr. Half Dome – Rick Deutsch –


2 Responses to “Trekking Poles”

  1. Stalin Says:

    I initially had thought poles were dead weight during long hikes but realized when i did Mission Peak twice back to back in preparation to half dome last year. Since then I’m a very big fan of hiking poles, especially LEKI with shock absorbers. Most of them i have talked to have the impression of poles as being a stick used for old age groups but soon that would change.

  2. kathy Says:

    Funny, I, also, was convinced to get hiking pole after doing Mission Peak as training! When training for Half Dome, I found that my knees would be screaming on the downhills of almost every training hike. I broke down and purchased a pair of Leki’s, started using them, got some tips on correct usage from REI and a video and have loved them ever since. And to my surprise my knees did not bother me once on the 12 hours of the Half Dome hike, not even the John Muir trail switch backs at the end. They have also save me from taking a fall on other hikes like the slick granite of Upper Yosemite or while doing the High Sierra camps. These are a must piece of equipement : )

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