There is a traditional ceremonial method to the manner in which I pick out my personal Staff each spring which i will then use for support and protection when hiking... which will then be used for the remainder of each year.
year... I have a tradition of harvesting a single hardwood Staff from my home woods (either
maple, black locust, or hickory, hickory preferred) from a single straight adolescent sapling.
it flat on the bottom "big end" and put either a point (or if I find the
right sapling a fork is turned into
2 points, better to pin snakes to the ground if necessary) at the
other. Then I flip it over so the fat end is the top side usually
because it balances better that way, and I always cut it the same Length
as my own height.
It is quiet the arduous journey every spring (coming
up on that time again now... actually I'm Late this year) and each year I
find I have to go deeper into the woods to find the right one... but it
is ceremonial and much of the tradition is based on practicality. the rest is just based on my own version of ancient tribal mysticism I guess which has been passed down to and modified by me.
My staff MUST be the right size in length and
thickness, It MUST come from a stand of young trees which has many
similarly aged saplings of the same size nearby to be left alone for the
health of the species in the woods... and not only must I Like the one I
choose... but I MUST have that "meant to be" feeling about it when I
see it from a distance, so that I walk RIGHT to it.
Then I ask "The
woods" for permission... and regardless what time of day I find it... I
find more and more that I prefer to cut the sapling at sunset. If I have to wait... I will wait. If I have to
trek out in the dark... I will. (this is why I also prefer do this when the moon
is either full or nearly full, and the weather is supposed to be
clear... all the better for the ceremony AND for finding my way back
After its cut... I say a prayer for its soul... commending it back
to nature after a years service and thanking it for its service in
Then I have a tradition of burning the scrap material (cut off
twigs leaves and branches) and if there are any left over larger
sections of trunk I carry them out also for later carving projects.
Granted all that isn't necessarily necessary for every one just to cut
a hiking staff... but that's what I use when i go hiking in the woods, and that's how I obtain it each year.
My staff will be my main
source of support and personal defense as well as a primary tool for the
entire year. It is so important to me... that I feel it deserves its
reverence... and thats the reason for all the ceromony and respect i give to the entire process.
Each year that staff becomes a fixed part of my identity and a
link to my past that I can hold on to in the most literal of ways.
Sometimes I debark my staff... but lately I don't debark anything but a
comfy hand grip... and I leave as much bark as I can. I believe this
helps extend the life of the staff further into the winter months before
it seasons enough to begin to weaken... as they all will untreated.
I don't treat or seal mine with any kind of chemicals or paints or anything, though i often will add carved symbols, designs, and or decorations which have a personal or religious meaning to me. the reason i don't seal it though is because I prefer to treat it like a living thing... often as part of my ceremonial ritual i will even give it a name... and like all
living things it SHOULD be able to breath in my opinion.
Anyway... there's a little
insight into my life and beliefs that is historically reserved as private and privileged information. As far
as store-bought trekking poles go though... no. I have never used one (or two)
of those, though I have considered it. They look nice I guess but they just aren't my style... I just could never have as much reverence for something so easy to come by as something i just ran to the nearest sporting goods department and threw some cash at... besides... I never have cash to spare for such things anyway.
there is an inherent flaw with those shorter style trekking poles
versus a staff... it has to be going DOWN hills I think. I find the
extra length of my staff far superior for reaching down the slope to
brace myself against, and that also leaves enough length that I'm less
likely to fall onto and impale myself on my own pole. Just one more thing to
consider as a virtue of doing it yourself and using a single longer nature-sourced Staff versus store-bought shorter dual Trekking poles.