If you had told me a year ago that I would even consider using trekking poles, I wouldn’t have believed you. I might even have laughed out loud. Not that there is anything wrong with someone else using them, mind you, but they just weren’t for me. However, on the advice from friends who backpack, I began investigating the benefits and drawbacks of using poles and the results of my research lead me to at least try them out.
My friend Steph was happy to let me borrow her hiking poles to experiment with. Although I didn’t love them, they didn’t hinder me in any way, so upon arriving in St. Jean Pied de Port, I went directly to the outdoors equipment store, Boutique du Pelerin, and purchased two poles at 40 Euros each. The woman who worked there gave me a fantastic lesson on using them properly, which I would never have figured out how to do on my own (see REI’s “Using Pole Straps Effectively” video below) and I left St. Jean poles in hand.
“There’s nothing more dangerous on the Camino than Elissa with her trekking poles,” laughed Yeni.
I used the poles every day of my trip, with the exception of the two days between León and Astorga, when I inadvertently left them at a café in León. I loved them so much that when that happened, I tracked down the cell number of Suc, a pilgrim I had met the night before, because I knew he planned to leave León later in the day. I was overjoyed when he answered and after hearing my tale of woe, told me he was willing to return to the café, find the poles, then carry them with him to Hospital de Orbigo where he would then hand them off to another Camino friend, Ana, who would in turn carry them to Astorga where we would meet up two days later. (Thanks Suc and Ana!)
The poles returned to California with me on July 30 and will be used again on long hikes when I am carrying a heavy backpack.
Did you/will you use poles on your Camino? Do you use them regularly? Please share your experiences with trekking poles in the comments!