Happy Outdoor October!

Hiking poles are ridiculous, I thought. Then I became a pet parent, and watching my four-legged beast so easily traverse Montana’s terrain led to a case of paw envy.

The solution lay in hiking poles, but then my new toy proceeded to sit—lean against a wall, actually—in my closet as hiking became a smaller part of my life after I purchased them.

Their fate was about to change at summer’s end when a friend invited me on a 24-mile backpacking trip in the North Cascades. As I drove over the pass between Montana and Idaho, I felt so pleased with myself for packing light and having all the right gear for the trip, which included my Komperdell trekking poles.

And then I realized they were still in my closet. I wasn’t feeling like a gear champ as I drove up to my friend’s house.

At the trailhead, I was hit with another case of envy. My hiking companions all had poles. A separate group—a couple with two precious pups—was also equipped with hiking poles. And they were only doing a day hike! A conversation ensued between them and us and ended with their giving me a pair of “throwaway” poles.

They might have been inexpensive, but the those poles saved me—from falling off a ridge or two, from throwing a tantrum or two. While I had recently finished training for a marathon swim and was in shape, I was really just meant to swim that distance, not hike it.

But my position on hiking poles has changed because if that’s how well cheap poles work—giving me that extra boost I envied about my angel pup—then hiking poles are most certainly not ridiculous and I look forward to taking my Austrian-made trekking poles out this month…on a day hike.

Happy outdoor October!


Going for gold! Kids run the hurdles at a track meet with the Missoula Youth Track Club, a volunteer-run organization that provides organized track and field activities to our community’s children and leadership and coaching opportunities for high school students. Photography by Pamela Dunn-Parrish