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What’s more relaxing than a nice walk in the woods? Nothing, if you have that unbridled desire to immerse yourself in nature with every fiber. The woods are almost always an arduous path, given that they are in the mountains or in any case at high altitudes. If the woods are part of the territory of a volcano, like Mount Etna, they can hide obstacles and pitfalls, even important ones, for your journey. Sudden differences in altitude, ditches, lava soil mixed with sand… all this must be faced. But … with or without the help of a walking stick?

Stick or not?

The choice remains purely subjective. Because beyond the advice of experts, everyone must feel capable of tackling a journey in their own way. The stick certainly helps to mitigate fatigue, to face obstacles, to maintain balance and therefore also a healthy back posture. On the other hand, however, it occupies a hand that could be equally valuable for keeping one’s balance, perhaps when crossing rocks or stream beds. This is why every hiker/trekker must decide based on their physical characteristics and resistance. Of course, even with some useful suggestions.

woods walking stick 2
with or without a stick?

What sticks to use when going into the woods?

The traditional walker’s stick is the classic large tree branch found on the path. Rigid, not necessarily straight, strong enough, it is cleaned of leaves and twigs on the spot and used as a “walking companion”. It is excellent for those who are well trained and are just looking for extra help against fatigue, but it may be less good for those who have some problems… for example with their knee or back.

Then there are trekking poles, similar to those of skiers but designed to help walkers. Lightweight, thin but resistant, they can be made up of one single, straight piece, or they can be telescopic, that is modular and made up of several pieces. They can be dismantled, so, if needed. They have ergonomic handles and help in walking, allowing you to put less strain on other parts of the body. Modular trekking poles can include parts of the Nordic Walking pole which, when properly assembled, create another type of equally useful and lightweight stick.

The use of sticks can also be only temporary. That is, you can use them until you feel confident and strong while walking. Then put them aside and face the woods with your hands free, certain of the energy of your finally well-trained legs.

In the woods of Etna

As mentioned, the woods of Etna present paths that are often full of obstacles that are different from those of other common mountains. Seismic fractures and ash fallout can transform a route unpredictably from year to year. The advice is to bring telescopic poles with you, so that you can assemble and disassemble them when necessary. In some places, in fact, it is useful to have them, but in others it is better to face the walk hands-free. Walking through the woods of our volcano is a hard and constant workout, and it certainly strengthens your muscles. So, once you have repeated the excursions several times, in the end you will also be able to do it without poles forever. (ALL PHOTOS ARE BY GRAZIA MUSUMECI)

Autore: Grazia Musumeci

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