As an experienced hiker, I would never go out without my trekking pole. The most obvious benefits of trekking poles (March/April 2012): they improve your balance and footing; absorb some of the impact and decrease stress on legs and joints; act as brakes when you are going downhill; and bring your arms and shoulders into play, reducing leg fatigue and adding thrust to your ascent.
It boils down to where one is hiking. If you walk on a natural trail with ups and downs and the prospect of encountering roots, rocks, or perhaps even a stream, it is better to have a trekking pole.
I believe Professor Saunders missed important benefits of using trekking poles for hiking. For instance, they are helpful if you encounter a mountain lion because you have a better chance of defending yourself.
I agree that trekking poles have no particular value for walking on flat terrain. However, for more challenging hikes, they are often useful and sometimes essential. I just returned from climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, and wouldn’t have been able to manage the trail without poles due to some frozen rain that coated the rocks. Also, the 3,000-foot descent was both safer and more enjoyable with poles because it lessened the impact on my knees. Like any tool, the poles don’t help in every situation, but under the right circumstance, they are lifesavers.
Santa Cruz, Calif.
It was great to read an article about North Table Mountain Ecological Preserve in Northern California (March/April 2012). As a member of the California Rangeland Trust, I wanted to explain why the wildflowers are so abundant. The preserve utilizes rotational cattle-grazing to create the best suitable habitat for the native flowers. During the fall and winter, cattle are allowed in the area to graze on invasive plants, such as the star thistle, that would otherwise crowd out the beautiful flowers that bloom in the spring.
A Fest Draws Guests
One great reason to visit Silverton, Oregon (March/April 2012), is the Homer Davenport Community Festival, August 3–5, 2012. The fun—in honor of Davenport, a cartoonist—includes a cartoon contest, wacky races, and a parade.
I loved Deborah Franklin’s recent article Lake Tahoe: Winter Wonderland (January/February 2012). My family often visits during the summer, and I didn’t know about the small museums and points of interest that Franklin pointed out. The information about John Steinbeck and Mark Twain was fascinating.
Walnut Creek, Calif.
This article was first published in May 2012. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.