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RE: [pct-l] Trekking Poles?

Some people like them, some don't.  The terrain has a lot to do with it.  In
my opinion, trekking poles are of limited usefulness on flat ground, they're
very helpful going up long hills, and they're worth their weight in gold
(and then some!) on long downhills or in sloppy conditions (snow or mud).

On flat ground, I'm not surprised that you find them to be a hassle.  Try
some mountains, though.  On uphills, you can push yourself up the hill with
your arms, preventing burnout in your legs.  On downhills, you can use the
poles as brakes to arrest your forward speed, taking a *tremendous* stress
load off your thighs and knees.  On slippery trails, you've got four points
of contact with the ground instead of just two.  I can't count the number of
tumbles they've saved me from.  I do most of my hiking in the Washington
Cascades where I don't think we have any flat trails.  <grin>  Everything's
up and down, snow and mud, and I wouldn't set foot on a trail without my
trekking poles.  

Technique has a lot to do with it.  Trekking poles *do* increase your total
energy budget because you've got to carry them.  The key is to use them in
such a way that you get a good return on your energy investment.  You should
be aggressively placing your weight on the poles almost all the time to take
a load off your legs and make use of those upper-torso muscles you're
lugging along.  If you're just tapping the poles on the ground every couple
of steps, they're probably not paying for themselves.  If you don't come
home with sore triceps (the backs of your upper arms) the first couple times
you use your poles, you're probably not using them correctly.

For the same reason, I highly recommend two poles rather than just one.
With two poles, you can really get your upper torso into the act.  With one
pole, it's harder to get a good return on your energy investment.

Here's a web link to a site that does a more in-depth discussion of trekking
pole technique:  http://www.dundee.ac.uk/~pjclinch/poles.htm.

That's my opinion, anyway.


-----Original Message-----
From: Peter Haskell [mailto:pchaskell@hotmail.com]
Sent: Saturday, January 08, 2000 12:23 PM