When I started hiking the Wales Coast Path I was clueless, to put it lightly. I had never hiked or trekked before and was learning everything on the go. I am grateful for all the people who helped me along the way, without them I would never have gotten so far.
For me the possibility to learn on the trail was great and felt liberating. It gave me an extra kick when I reached a goal, another reason to talk to people and the chance to feel both my body and mind grow as I hiked.
Hiking might sound like a very simple thing to do, it’s basically just walking, right? Just putting one foot in front of the other and repeating that same movement over and over again. Well, I quickly learned that it is not as simple as it sounds. First of all, it is a lot more tiring than I taught. Secondly, after 20 km the backpack somehow weighs a lot more than when I tried it on at home. Thirdly, my hands get restless just hanging there.
When I went over those three realisations with a guy I met over lunch he looked at me with a smile and said: “Well, that is because you don’t use trekking poles”. Turns out that when you carry a heavy pack trekking poles can make a big difference. I didn’t even fully realize trekking poles were a ‘thing’. I thought they were very uncool and mainly for old people so I hadn’t looked into using them. We continued to have a pleasant lunch together, and he continued to make fun of my lack of hiking skills.
When I set out to start hiking again he told me to hold on for just one minute and rushed to his car. He came back looking very smug and with a bright smile handed me a real trekking pole. He had a new one at home that he should start using, so giving me his old one was only sensible. I was touched and thanked him a hundred times before leaving. Meetings like these will stay with me forever and are what made me realize people are great.
I started hiking with the one pole and it was a huge difference. I was so happy with the result I bought a second one in the next sports shop. Ever since I’ve hiked with trekking poles when I take a heavy pack. It does make a big difference. I feel more stable, can hike faster, my hands don’t get restless and my legs are happy with the extra support going up or downhill.