Wednesday, May 14, 2014

110. Hiking Poles

You know when you're going up several flights of stairs, and after a little while, you start to feel grateful that there's a banister? At first maybe you take the stairs 2 at a time, feeling confident and lively. Then you dial it back a little bit, realizing that you've still got several more flights to go and you  really want to avoid the onset of jelly legs. Then maybe at some point you just get totally pooped, and you lean forward to grab the rungs a few steps up, then hoist your body forward like some tired swinging pendulum in the world's oldest grandfather clock.

The same thing sometimes happens when you're going down several flights of steps. If you're feeling a little loopy from a long day's work, like maybe you're a boxer and you just got clocked in the head a few times, then having the bannister to hold onto while you descend can be quite a relief. Maybe you're the titular "Nude Descending a Staircase" and your entire existence hangs on the balance of you successfully getting down those stairs without falling down, for all eternity (or for at least as long as your painting exists).  Or maybe the stairs are icy and you have to hold onto the bannister so that you don't slip and break your tailbone and have to carry around one of those little inflatable bum donuts to sit on for the next 6 weeks while it heals.

Hiking poles are like having a bannister with you, at all times, in all environments. Going up or going down, going across perfectly flat terrain, navigating your way over a tiny creek or an overflowing river, hiking poles help keep you upright. It's all the pleasure and convenience of having a bannister, without the hassle of stairs! The downside is that you can't slide down hiking poles like Mary Poppins. They just don't work that way.

If you're an able-bodied person whose had a really long, hard day, have you ever wished that it was socially acceptable to just use a walker whenever you wanted to use one? That's what hiking poles are! They're marketed in fancy outdoor outfitter language, but really, they were probably just invented by a hiker who got tired of having to be responsible for keeping himself upright all the time. Constant face planting really puts a damper on long-term outdoor excursions.

Some people (*cough* Whistle *cough*) accidentally overturn their canoe when they're aqua blazing in Virginia, and lose their hiking poles in a giant river. Whistle says that she wasn't too terribly choked up about this, because they did find their bag of sealed hot dog buns caught in some brambles half a mile down the river. Never you mind the fancy Black Diamond hiking poles that were gone forever. Those hot dog buns were delicious. Whistle decided that she wasn't going to buy new hiking poles, and subsequently got a whole lot stronger than the rest of us.

The biggest upside to walking with hiking poles is that it keeps all the blood from rushing to your hands while you're hiking all day long. On the several occasions that I slack packed without my poles, I would have to do jazz hands and wave my arms around almost constantly in order to coax the blood back out of my swollen fingers. But if you're carrying hiking poles, you are saved from these noodle-armed antics.

I met a South Bounder named "Rebar" who was named thus because instead of hiking poles he was carrying a pair of 5 foot sections of rebar. It's possible that he was a big dumdum for making this decision, but his arms were huge, so no one could argue with him.

I got bored one day while on trail and macrame-d my hiking poles. I love them, and they are still perfectly functional to this day. I also macrame-d Grim's hiking poles in the Gryffindor colors with embroidery floss. We hikers are allowed to be practical and ridiculous fashionable.

Clever Girl

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