Why Use Hiking Poles?
Reasons to use hiking poles or a hiking stick:
1. Balance - there's nothing better than having a 3rd or 4th leg while navigating narrow, rocky trails. Poles or a hiking stick can provide an extra bit of comfort to check your balance for the flats and hills But know how to use them - don't swing them like you're a ski-touring champion!
2. Wading - When crossing a steam there is always the danger of slipping on the bottom or possibly stepping into a deep hole. Probing the ground ahead of you with the hiking stick will determine the depth.
3. Marking your Route - when encountering unfamiliar intersections scratch an arrow on the ground to indicate your presence and direction of travel. These help navigate your return. If the ground is not suitable for marking then stones or sticks can be placed to form an arrow on the road.
4. Steep Drop-Offs - Some trails follow the edge of ravines and cliffs. The tendency is to lean away from the edge while walking. This is much easier with a hiking stick as you can lean on the stick while walking.
5. Clear your path - A stick is very handy to push brush, brambles and spider webs out of your face as you make your way through a thicket or underbrush.
6. Emergency Crutch - If you injure a foot or leg while hiking a hiking stick can be a real aid as an emergency crutch. Wrap the top in a tee shirt or other soft material.
7. A Weapon - Wild animals, snakes, unleashed dogs and even humans are some of the risks presented today's hikers. Hiking poles or a hiking stick can greatly dissuade the intruders.