I knew I’d never give up using a wooden hiking staff completely on the day I first heard the sound of trekking poles on a mountainside. Clink…clink-plink…tink…zink! Such a weird sound they made. They were my own poles of course; but I was already feeling self-conscious about the noise I was making. Pretty soon, that sound was re-echoed by someone coming down the summit. Pink…tlink…pink-tink.
And then there were the…”chicken-scratches.” Short, chalky-looking white marks on the rock ledges — most everywhere! The many times I’d climbed the same peak in the past they were not there. Now here was a sea of white cross-hatches, the indelible marks of the metal tips of trekking poles.
I wished for my maple hiking staff.
Now, don’t mistake me — I am not an anti-trekking-pole hiker. They have their uses, especially since my knees appreciate the added support. And coming downslope has proved their worth to me time and again. Still, I oftentimes will collapse one of the two Leki’s I carry and lash it to my daypack, using just one to negotiate the trail. When I do, I begin to feel like that confident old tri-ped I was when I last hiked the Appalachian Trail and the Long Trail in Vermont.
I still have the original staff I used during those long hikes, though sadly it’s in two pieces and stored in a closet. Age, use, and time had dried out the wood, and the trusty staff broke during a Vermont trip by accident. Can’t glue it together; that wouldn’t be safe. Can’t throw it away either. It’s close by my worn out Fabiano Trionic backpacking boots.
Sentimental, I know. But, you understand…
Meanwhile — trink-tink…plink…wrink…