Aside from the obvious gravitas a Tolkien fan has for gripping her hand around a wooden walking stick and gesturing on wards, there is much to be considered by the portion of the population that does not consider Gandalf to be a gallant leader.

For one, the walking stick is a third appendage below the nether regions. And before you let your dirty imagination run wild,this appendage comes in the form of a trekking pole, or an over priced  long wooden post, otherwise known as a glorified stick, found in your nearest Xanterra store.  While your knees, ankles, and toes have fallible joints that are easily startled by loose rubble on the trail, the third appendage of the nether regions is steadfast and expert in catching you in your most off guard moments. Using your hand, you can wedge it into the refined crevices nature has to offer to keep your body in balance. I’ve recently found it to be my crutch in adventuring and exploring these past few summers: scrambling in The Gorge near Portland, the wooden glorified stick kept me upright on an otherwise hairy bit of trail, and additionally whilst romping through the 17 mile Narrows, in Zion National Park, it became my only reliable appendage as my body grew weary from exhaustion and soggy with river water through and through.

While this all may sound great, it’s true value and necessity, for squeamish folks like myself, lies in the stick’s ability to cock block any venomous attempts made on your thin skin with a simple swish to the left, and the only valuable swipe right you’ll ever want to make. This eliminates any entanglements laid out by your eight legged airborne friends, and your sneaky slithering ground dwelling creeps.

Either way, this hiking enthusiast, holds the walking stick in her list of essentials when considering necessary items to employ on any given hike. Who knows what nature will have in store for you? And those of you who walk into stores and stick shame hikers that are shopping for this tool, well think twice. I had to.

Cheers and happy hiking.