Dressing Up a Hiking Stick

August 31, 2010 by Barry & Monique Zander · 16 Comments  
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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 normalB- Handle - 0937 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 B- Samples - 1735began 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.  B- Stick - 0933Nowadays, 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.

Bear - 1742

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.”

B- At Rest - 0930And 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.

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16 Responses to “Dressing Up a Hiking Stick”

  1. Jane Olds on September 1st, 2010 4:26 pm

    Have been doing this for over 19 yrs however I do not find as many medallions available- hope to see more!

  2. Pete Hester on September 1st, 2010 7:16 pm

    I am inquiring, is there a state you can register your vehicle while traveling to avoid all the rules and requlations of each state. And a place you can have your mail forwarded to that you can email or call to have the mail sent to your new location??
    Hope this makes sense………..

    Thank you Pete

  3. Stevie Duvaldadrian on September 1st, 2010 8:18 pm

    Pete, There are several places in the USA to do this, however I can only speak about one. We are registered residents of South Dakota, of course we have no residence anywhere except our RV since we are full-timers. It is done by people who own property, but I wouldn’t want to get caught. We found, from our research, that South Dakota was the perfect fit for us. They have no state income tax, no vehicle inspections or emissions, their vehicle insurance is half of what we were paying in another midwest town, and their sales tax is just a little over 3%. The only thing we had to do was go into the state to transfer our driver’s licenses. We must do that every 5 years. Their license plate fees are slightly higher than we were paying when we lived in our home state, but the small increase didn’t outweigh all the other advantages. Everything else is done through our mail service (license plates and we vote by proxy). Our mail is forwarded out of Madison, a small town a little northwest of Sioux Falls. It is called “My Dakota Address”. If you look online under that name you will find all the details. Hope this helps.

  4. catchesthewind on September 1st, 2010 9:46 pm

    Pete, I have used My Dakota for about 3 years now. They are very professional reasonably priced and will go above and beyond to help their customers.

  5. Don on September 2nd, 2010 8:58 am

    I like the idea about the medallions for the hiking staff. I have one that I found on the shore when I was stationed in Fort Bragg, CA back in the early 90’s that I would like to start that with. One thought to protect the medallions/stickers, is to apply a coat of polyurethane over them after you have gotten them into place.

  6. Cindy on September 2nd, 2010 1:30 pm

    I started collection the trail medallions from the National Park a couple of years ago for my hiking sticks. They are really a great addition to bring back memories. Great story!

  7. wildfoto on September 28th, 2010 6:12 pm is a great place to get medallions and hiking staffs. Great quality. I love the hiking staff I got from them.

  8. Roland Ballow on October 7th, 2010 7:13 am

    Another great mail service and place to register your vehicle is Escapees.

    I purchased a wooden dowell and put my medallions on it and have it hanging behind my chair in the RV. My walking stick is also aluminum and well used.

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