Dressing Up a Hiking Stick
The Never-Bored RVers’ regular Wednesday article (depending on availability of Internet connection)
“Do you ever get tired of your RV life?” is a question that we are frequently asked by non-travelers. Your answer to that question probably isn’t exactly the same as ours; however, we all are likely to say something like, “We enjoy our life on the road. If we didn’t, we’d quit.”
To earn our appellation of “the Never-Bored RVers,” we find lots of normal chores to focus on when we’re not visiting new places and discovering new attractions. And as “camper-RVers,” we gravitate to sites outside urban areas in natural settings, where we partake of our favorite diversion, hiking.
From time to time in future articles we will recall for you some of our most interesting hikes — like “The Miracle of Romero Ponds” and “Saved By Cow Dung” — but before getting to those, we’d like to acquaint you with Monique’s Collection:
European hikers have for many years attached medallions to their hiking sticks. About a decade ago, a few gift shops in and around national parks began carrying their own medallions to commemorate hikes on area trails. As veteran hikers, we began buying and attaching medallions to Monique’s hiking stick about seven years ago.
But first, the tale of the sticks: Mine is a seasoned REI expandable aluminum pole, beat up from years on narrow paths through often-savage terrain. Monique’s, on the other hand, was blissfully living out its life as an alder tree branch on a roadside in Utah until about seven years ago. That fateful day, I practically slammed on the brakes when I saw the perfect tree, drawing attention to itself with silvery leaves shimmering in the breeze.
I maneuvered onto the grassy shoulder of the road, jumped out of the SUV, pulled a small folding saw from a box of camping supplies, arched my way through a wire fence, and clomped down a steep slope, stopping my progress by grabbing onto a straight branch that was ready for the opportunity to help a brave-hearted stumbling hiker.
As I began sawing the branch, I heard Monique shouting for me to hurry up. I continued my quest at the same pace until she repeated her warning – in a more desperate tone. I turned my head enough to see a massive black bull ambling toward me. He was either curious or mad, we don’t know which, but his presence was menacing enough for me to quickly break the branch off so I could reach safety on the other side of the fence.
Since then, as we travel the roads of America, we have invested more than $350 on medallions, each of which cost between $3.50 and $5.50. Nowadays, we are finding additions for the hiking stick in National Forests, state parks and even private parks. Caverns, mountains and seashores are among the metallic mementos nailed onto Monique’s hiking stick.
We’ve given it a bit more character with extra doodads that we feel are appropriate. There are two small crystals picked up in the Ozarks and Tennessee; small trinkets like a bear, the Indian fetish Kokopeli, and other totem animals. A sparkling jade-colored bear cost us a dollar at Georgia O’Keefe’s Ghost Ranch gift shop in New Mexico.
Monique wore out the first leather handle, so we bought thicker leather that has held up well for years. A few strands of horsehair, a rainbow of beads in chakra colors, and other items grace the handle. A quartz crystal embedded in the top of the stick began the process of making it Monique’s special hiking stick.
To Monique, it’s not just a hiking stick with medallions; it’s her “trail jewelry.”
And not only does it make her feel good on any trail, the stick has been there when needed to help her cross streams, climb mountains and move vines and spider webs out of the way. Each medallion brings back fond memories of roads often or no-so-often taken.
Then again, every once in a while, someone along a trail will ask her about it and light up with the thought of starting their own collection. We especially enjoy it when a youngster shows an interest.
With over 80 medallions in place, we filled the first stick and are now watching her second one take on its own character. Meanwhile, as we continue to travel, we continue to hike so Monique can earn more “trail jewelry.”
From the “Never-Bored RVers,” We’ll see you on down the road.