So let me tell you a story about my carbon fiber yana trekking poles. And maybe that will give anyone gear minded a picture about how well this equipment works.
I waltzed off from the monument at the US/Mexican border with my fancy carbon fiber Yana trekking poles strapped securely to my pack. Wasn’t sure quite yet what to do with them. Not much experience with trekking poles. That evening, I encountered a hill and I figured I ought to start playing with them… they stayed in my hands for the next 2,600 miles and seven months.
‘Toy Poles’ some would say with a laugh. I’d shrug and keep walking. The poles held up, through more than I would have expected. I weigh about 130 pounds, so I put a decent amount of weight on these poles over months and miles. Add some snow to push through and we’re talking about some hardy walking sticks.
Every hitch, I’d shrink them down to half size, and stick them in the pocket of my pack, before putting it in the trunk. Always doing the double take when removing my gear from a vehicle. Seven ounces I proudly never lost.
Daydreaming while walking, a pole would occasionally drop out of my hand. Or stick in the ground and stay behind me as I kept charging on. A few steps later I’d turn around and retrieve it. Still standing, right where I left it. ‘Silly’ it would seem to say to me. ‘No, we’re not stopping here’ I would reply. I never bothered making wrist loops. I preferred the freedom in my hands to switch poles, set them down and grab and go again without the fiddling of attaching them to my wrists. Drop a pole now and then. A quirk I got used to. A quirk that helped me notice more things every time I picked a pole off the ground again. Pause. Look at the rocks or the earth. See. Walk on.
Through sand, and rocks, and streams, and lava fields.
Through a couple months using them to set up my tent. And pulling them rather taught to keep the rain sliding off my tent.
And then I got to Washington, and then October turned into November and the snow got deeper. I would look at my trusty poles and wonder. Hoping for the best we could make it to the end. ‘Just a little further’ I would coax them. Please don’t break yet.
This was no longer walking on a nicely cleared trail. Up, down, and around on dirt. This was full on digging a stick in the ground with every step and trusting my weight on this tiny ‘toy stick’ to gain a little elevation when climbing up a pass. This was shoving a stick into the snow as far as I could hoping it didn’t hit anything slick and trusting my weight on it to ease my way down a pass. This was kickstepping and digging deep along an icy, steep traverse needing each step to hold.
They always did.
And in the end. It was only user abuse that damaged them. Wore them out in every way a trekking pole could be used.. In the last two weeks, I couldn’t shrink them down anymore. Too cold. Something expanded. After one time I almost couldn’t lengthen my pole again, I let them stay just how they were. Through car rides and all. They eventually got frozen into position. But still did their job and helped me through the snow.
Dig and kick and dig and ooh, I found a couple rocks to wedge my stick between, and kick, and dig again.
Got some water that froze in one pole. Made a crack, the crack split up half the pole. Then it froze a little more, and the pole held. ‘Just 50 more miles’ I’d whisper to it.
And my trusty seven ounce carbon fiber yana trekking poles and me made it. And those poles were quite thankful to be put in the closet. One tip broken off, the other with a hairline stress fracture.
I’d take these poles with me anywhere. But maybe doctor them up a bit before the next adventure.
(Oh, and I danced with them too. Very versatile piece of equipment.)