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Trekker's many uses for ski poles

February 19, 2007

Re: ["Keep on Trekking" Feb. 12]: As an avid and aging hiker and backpacker, I have long found poles to be absolutely essential.

Used (or new) ski poles are sturdier and cheaper than "trekking poles." Even expensive trekking poles have always seemed flimsy to me.

Any type of pole serves myriad uses besides strain and stress relief. Primarily for me, they can shift part of the exertion of uphill walking to the upper body. This takes some practice and attention, but I've ended many a hard day with my triceps and shoulders as tired as my quads, resulting in an extended comfortable mileage range.

Other benefits/uses include balance (especially during stream crossings), poison oak whacker, rattlesnake repositioner, obstacle vaulter, pack stander-upper, spider web sweeper, annoying co-hiker singing dissuader and counterbalanced food retriever. I've also used them as noise makers in grizzly country and poncho or tube-tent supports for a temporary shelter. Metal ones make convenient campfire pokers.

LOU TOTORO

Santa Barbara

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