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Hiking Sticks - More Than a Pretty Piece of Wood

One of the most devastating happenings that occur on the hiking trail is falling down. Throw in the hiking trail on the mountains and a bad fall could result in death.

Taking a nice stroll in a park on a well groomed trail without any underfoot obstructions is one thing, but hiking in the mountains on simple tracks is totally different. Rocks, boulders, roots, holes, snags and lord knows what else can cause a hiker untold problems. There may be creeks to cross, either by wading on slippery rocks or by straddling a slippery old log that serves as a bridge. On the west coast mountains of western Canada and the USA most of the trails a hiker will encounter are like this. On extreme elevations you may encounter areas of broken rock on extreme slopes without any trail.

These are the reasons why a good solid hiking staff is so important. Some people take ski poles which are better than nothing but the best poles are solid spruce or fir. Juniper is a great wood and extremely tough. You will find plenty of these poles in the better outdoors shops. The poles that are carved or twisted by nature are generally hand made and are very good and sturdy. You might find a good small tree to make your own. Make certain the wood is solid and dry it for a long time. When I select my wood I test it to make sure it is tough. You want it to hold your weight in case you fall.

Once you have your staff, check to see if it has a strap on the end where you hold it. If not you should drill a hole and thread through a good strong strap of leather or nylon. We were hiking on a very rocky crag and used our staffs all of the time. On our way down my wife lost the grip on her staff. It had a strap but she had failed to place it around her wrist. When it slipped out of her grip it fell over and over again and bounced off a rock into oblivion.

If you will be hiking in the mountains it may be advisable to carry two staffs since wading across a fast flowing creek can be very intimidating, especially for seniors. This situation calls for poles much stronger than ski poles. You want a pole that will take your entire weight in case you lose your balance.

Seniors should make it a habit to carry a staff or even two, because we all tend to be increasingly aware and concerned with falling as we age. When I was younger I was without fear as I felt I could fall and get up quickly. As I aged though, falling was something I avoided, but accidents happen. It is reassuring to carry a good staff.