Poles

I set out on this trip with a pair of LightTrek 4 (LT4) poles from Gossamer Gear. On the PCT I used a different kind, made by Leki. What happened on this trip was that I broke my LT4 poles repeatedly, in circumstances where I felt that they shouldn’t have. To compound the problem, Gossamer Gear doesn’t offer any kind of warranty, except from manufacturing defects. Further, they don’t make it easy to get new pole sections sent to you on the trail. Their website only ships with UPS, which means I can’t get them sent General Delivery to the next town on the trail. Each time I broke a pole, I ended up being without it for at least a week or two.

The pole tips on LT4s are glued on, meaning that replacing them either requires sending the poles into Gossamer Gear, or getting out some serious tools. Leki poles on the other hand, you can pop the tips off with a big rock or a picnic table (i.e. things you can find in the wilderness). The other finicky thing about the LT4s is the locking mechanism is very sensitive to temperature. I was lucky to have Chance with me early in the trip, as he had dealt with all the locking issues before and knew quite a few tricks to get them locked. Even so, I managed to rip off half of one of the grips while trying to expand a pole one time (mostly due to frustration).

I was amazed by how upset I got about all this, because it generally happened when I was very tired and making mistakes on the trail anyways. On Day 74, I briefly mentioned that I broke my pole. What happened was that I stepped over a blown-down tree, and dragged my pole over it behind me. It caught on a branch and snapped. Then I threw it into the trees nearby and stomped around swearing loudly, before retrieving it (after all, one of the sections wasn’t broken) and walking on. I actually carried it in my hand, continuing to swear continuously, eventually trailing off into mumbled curses. After that I stopped and strapped the remains to my pack, but you get the idea. I was angry with a pole.

Part of my anger was just that the hassle and cost (~$75) of the replacement was relatively high. The other thing was knowing I had a perfectly good set of poles at home that had made it through the whole PCT. Halfway through the trail,after breaking a pole for the third time, I had Hailey bring me my old Leki poles, which made it in perfect order through the rest of the trail. They also gave my arms a bit of a workout, as they weigh 3x as much as the LT4s.

Overall, I loved the LT4s though. I just think they aren’t appropriate for me on a long trail. I would happily carry them on weekend or week long trips, where if one were to break I wouldn’t have to hike for weeks afterwards with only one pole.

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