Those two poles
Several years back, when I first went through Iruná, the one thing I noticed were a lot of the Peregrinos (pilgrims), strutting along in posing mode with two hiking poles. They made a terrific noise and looked a bit like penquins marching toward the sea.
Often when I would be out hiking, I'd grab a stout piece of wood, about quarterstaff size, for stability purposes and toss it when done. Some hikers had been seen using two of them, very long, with their thumbs in a V at the top. I tried that and after a few miles was worn out, so dumped the idea.
Prior to starting the blog, I spent some time getting into shape again, covering a lot of ground. I decided it would be easier to have a decent pole that was easy to carry and whip out if I needed a "third leg" to keep me stable on dodgy ground. I bought a Leki pole because it did not have Culmann tripod type flippers to release the sections, all I did was unscrew them. It could handle me on fair drop without collapsing and was a ton easier to get off my pack without those snap open flip things. It was also quite expensive, but has been worth it on occasion.
Walking poles burn up energyBig time! Research has shown that you can burn up to 25% of your calories using them. Calories equal energy.
Calorie: Calorie is a unit of energy used by nutritionists to measure the amount of energy in a particular food.Energy is needed to do the hike. Plus, your arms are in an unnatural position when walking and hands are not free to grab something if you stumble. I almost classify these things as potentially dangerous for that reason.
But .....There is, apparently, a benefit on the exercise side of this. It seems to have begun in Norway (so what else is new) and is termed Nordic walking. These are not for hikng trails! Nordic poles are different: they're said to strengthen the upper torso and burn belly fat. Okay, rightwell stop drinking the beer then.
Ummm, yeah, uuhhh...
Maybe poles do help in a way(https://www.trailspace.com/articles/trekking-poles-benefits.html), but not all that much. It's back to supporting weight. So your torso may build up and the belly fat go, howeveryour legs and ankles do not get strengthened as much. You need strong legs and ankles when hiking trails in the countryside and mountains. Falling down the side of a mountain because of weak muscular tone is not fun. You can pose as much as you want on your ego-hike, but bottom lineyou could end up dead!
The money side of thingsAgain, back to the pilgrims. You are not allowed to carry poles onto planes. So you have to buy them from a "pilgrim" store at around 100-200 € a pair. Figure 200,000 of these people and you have some very serious money each summer. This is a commercial con trick. You do not now nor ever "need" them to walk the boring 500 mile stroll in the park of the Camino de Santiago Frances (the serious mountains are a different story).
Recently I ran into this guy who had two poles of the flip extended variety (in other words cheap and they wouldn't fit on his pack) who claimed they helped him cover ground fast. He admitted he had to eat a lot more and swore by the things as he sped between towns (probably with pubs in). I felt sorry for him.
The valuesFor instance. One extremely steep incline, I needed a hand on the ground and the other with the pole (at shortest) slammed into the earth so that I did not slip back down about 90 feet over smoothish ground, with rocks sticking up threatening to tear me to pieces on the downhill slide.
Also they are great when you bivvy up for the night and act as a tent pole or to hold up a tarp (only need one for that). Stuck between two branches, you can loop your pack straps over them and it be off the ground, away from scrounging animals.
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Me, I want to enjoy the hike in the countryside: sit and stare, relax and not be bothered about rushing from one place to another missing out on the whole experience of it all.