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Pack A Stick


    Once upon a time, I thought hiking sticks were for the old or feeble. Then I tried a pair. And I ain't turning back.
    Hiking sticks are useful for so many tasks. While they were initially intended to help take the load off your knees on downhills, something they're extremely good at, I've also found them useful for shooing rattlesnakes off trails and providing added balance during stream crossings. These days there also are sticks you can use as monopods to steady your camera, sticks that can help you judge avalanche danger by measuring the angle of that slope you want to cross, and even sticks that double as tent poles for ultra-light backpacking.
    There are many hiking sticks on the market, but I have a preference for those made by Leki , particularly their Super Makalu ERGOs. These babies not only are lightweight and sturdy, but have built-in airshocks to cushion your pole plants. That might sound like overkill, but it really makes a difference in reducing the jarring to your hands, arms and shoulders.
     And Leki really stands behind its warranty. Once, during a snowshoe jaunt, the basket of one of my sticks became wedged between rocks and snapped off. While I figured I'd have to buy a lower section to replace the broken one, Leki shipped me off a new section at no charge.
    That kind of attention breeds loyalty.


My hiking stick epiphany came on a (stick-free) hut-to-hut hike in Switzerland some years back. As I watched Swiss farmers, sticks in hand, tending cattle on steep Alpine slopes, it occurred to me that people all over the world who run up and down mountainsides chasing cows, sheep or whatever all use sticks, not just to shake at their livestock but also for stability on uneven slopes. I bought one as soon as I got home and hiked with that until I switched to a pair. No regrets.

Don't know much about hiking sticks but I am wondering how they would help an Incomplete Paraplegic with walking on the sandy beaches of Cape Cod?

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