“Just don’t don’t fall down, and whatever you do, don’t hit your head.”
That’s the first commandment of Dr. S regarding my wanderlust to off-the-beaten-path places that usually involve some combination of mountain trails, steep slippery temple steps, forest undergrowth, or slick muddy patches. The doc doesn’t have to get graphic on me. He doesn’t have to spell out what will happen if super-thinned blood leaks into my brain.
For this reason especially – not to mention my general klutziness – hiking poles are a critical component of my gear on many trip.
I tried my first pair of hiking poles more than 15 years ago, before stroke, before blood thinners, when I simply needed any edge I could get when I acceded to Jack’s ludicrous declaration that we would climb Mt. Kilimanjaro.
This photo was taken at China’s Yellow Mountain. I was astounded to find all the trails paved in cement. But the stairs – seemingly endless stairs – were steep and I was thankful for my pole, a Leki model I used with success until a few years ago.
Then I discovered my all-time favorite hiking pole – the one I use today –The REI Four Winds Travel Staff.
It’s incredibly lightweight (just 8 oz.) and collapses to less than 23 inches – short enough to fit in my roll-aboard suitcase. Yet it’s sturdy enough to give good support. There’s a camera mount under the removable grip. I’ve been using mine for about two years.
The Fours Winds is also a favorite of hiking expert Dan Nelson. He reviewed the Four Winds ad Leki Ultralite in the Seattle Times.