One pole or two?

Half Dome – Yosemite Musing

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     One of my most important t0ols when hiking are Trekking poles. I have heard them also called Hiking Poles or Walking sticks. I don’t really know the precise definition of “trekking” vs hiking or walking. But I guess STAR “TREK” is a better name than STAR “WALK.” Whatever works – it’s all the same.

     Some folks ask if one pole is just as good as two. If you are walking like Moses through the desert for 40 years, I think you are at a disadvantage with just one. I will grant you that one pole is better than none. But why would you want to carry a long shaft that might weigh three pounds? I often see “wilderness” folks carrying a tree branch as their walking aid. I want to be as light as I can and go minimalist. One pole causes your body to torque with each step. You tend to favor one side as you sashay down the trail. This could cause you pain. When you use two proper hiking poles, your body is symmetric which results in an easier time of it.

     On level ground, the 8 ounce  poles provide stability and balance. Going uphill they can transfer about 5% of the work to your upper body – pretty handy on a 16-mile Half Dome hike. Downhill the poles earn their keep. Most of the stopping action downhill is focused on your knees. Poles really relieve your knees. I recommend them even if you are having no knee pain now. Trekking poles are only sold in pairs. The shafts are identical but the grips (straps) are often designed left & right. Look at your straps. On LEKI’s there is a little ® or (l).  At first I thought the ® meant registered trademark. I learned. So I now put a piece of red tape on my right pole (red is right). This makes for quick starts.

Unrelated thought worth quoting: “Tin soldiers and Nixon’s comin’. We’re finally on our own. This summer I hear the drummin. Four dead in Ohio.” – Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young

*MrHalfDome – Rick Deutsch –

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