scouts-l Mail Archive for July of 2000: Hiking Staffs (somewhat long)
Steve Berry (sberry@PDCCONSULT.COM
Fri Jun 30 2000 - 11:57:34 CDT
I haven't responded to the list for quite a while since my opinion is
usually espoused by someone already. But I have followed this thread with
great interest. Ironically, I have been working on a hiking staff in the
recent months. I agree with most of the comments to the list. A hiking
staff is primarily a personal preference. The size, weight, functionality,
etc. are all personal decisions. I have run the gamut in trying to decide
what I want (or more appropriately don't want) on my staff.
As far as their usefulness, my experience is that they are most useful in
downhill treks. They take a great deal of stress of the knees. They are
also great to lean on and take weight off my back when standing resting. I
am tall and always trying to take pressure off my lower back. They do aid
in keeping one's balance at times and in brushing tree branches and other
vegetation out of your way. I have not made up my mind on whether or not it
is an indispensable item when I go camping. Can it be a nuisance at times?
Yes. Can it get in the way at times? Yes. Are there times I'm really glad
I have it with me? Yes. Like most things in life, there is both good and
My greatest joy with my hiking staff is in carving on it. I started carving
on mine to show my Webelos and Boys Scouts (I pull double duty) that you can
do more with and knife (as well as a gouge and V tool) then whittle tooth
picks! I first started the boys out with 12 ounce cups full of Plaster of
Paris. I was trying to teach them the fundamentals of carving. Then I
started on my hiking staff. It has become a tremendous stress reliever and
source of joy to sit and carve. I can do that for literally hours on end.
Both of my sons are working on staffs of their own.
My staff is a six foot piece of hickory, about 2 inches in diameter at the
top and 1 inch in diameter at the bottom. I am in the Tribe of Mic-O-Say
and my tribal name is "Least Sturdy Standing White Owl". Consequently, I
carved a snowy owl on top of my staff. Since then, I have carved the face
of a smiling tree troll and the face of the North Wind blowing. I just
finished a rainbow trout jumping at a fly two nights ago. My intent is to
continue to carve on the staff as long as there is room. When I get to go
through Wood Badge, I will carve the face of my patrol emblem on the staff.
I have 50 feet of black parachute cord wrapped around the staff. I doubled
up the cord in one area so it wouldn't make such a long handle. The cord is
550 pound test. In wrapping the parachute cord, I did wrap a small
carabiner on it so I can hang something if I need to. To finish it up, I
put a rubber cane tip on the bottom. This keeps the staff from slipping on
smooth surfaces and from splitting.
As far as all of the gadgets from the Wilderness Survival Walking Stick, I
don't want all of that. To me, it would seem very heavy and awkward. The
only time I think that might be of benefit to me personally is if the Troop
were to hold a wilderness survival overnight and all the boys could bring
was their hiking staff and sleeping bag. Then, you might really appreciate
some of those items. But for the usual hiking, I opt for very few
Anyway, that is my two cents from the carving fool!
WL & SM