A very useful and versatile accessory for hiking in the outdoors is a hiking stick. I have tried different types including “trekking poles” which are very similar to ski poles and collapse to anyone’s preferred length and are made of some kind of composite like fiberglass or aluminum. I think the trekking poles would be great for hiking on a trail and allow the arms to assist in walking. The problem I have with them is they probably wouldn’t support my weight if I were off balance. I have a weak leg from an old injury, so a hiking stick helps maintain balance in case I trip or fall. Falling would be a problem if I were to land on a rock or into a sticker bush. I have stepped into and caved in animal burrows and have fallen in sandy river beds. The hiking stick helps to get back up.
I feel more secure having a hiking stick for self defense from whatever is out there including snakes. I use the hiking stick to poke in bushes, behind rocks, or logs before I step. Snakes are timid creatures and very well camouflaged. Most of the time they lay motionless to avoid harm from their predators. Snakes are a feast for roadrunners. I have had close encounters with snakes and accidentally stepped on a rattler. I always poke around before stepping near a bush or over a rock or log.
Walking out in the wilds can be treacherous when stepping on stones, leaves, pine needles, shale, or other unstable surfaces. A hiking stick is very helpful, especially when walking downhill as it provides brakes and can prevent a twisted ankle.
Hiking sticks come in different types of material and lengths. I found a company in Texas who makes hiking sticks of various kinds of wood which are strong enough to assist me when poking around. They are online at Brazos Walking Sticks in Waco, Texas (www.brazos-walking-sticks.com). They are available in oak, sassafras, hickory, in plain natural to ornately customized with fancy handles and even cases. There are other companies who make walking or hiking sticks, canes, staffs, and similar assists for whatever a hiker’s preference might be. I keep mine in my truck with the rubber tip facing me because I once tried pulling my hiking stick out of a loaded vehicle and pulled off the rubber tip and couldn’t retrieve it until I unloaded the truck. ~ Jerry