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How to carry trekking poles on a ladder

 The West Coast Trail has a lot of ladders. Some days it feels like you are spending more time climbing ladders than you are hiking. I loved the change of scenery and being able to use my upper body instead of just hiking with my legs all day long.

We carried trekking poles on our hike and they saved my bacon a few times. They help on slippery boardwalks and big rocks on the beach to keep you upright. But with so many ladders, what do you do with your trekking poles?

We tested out a few different solutions on the West Coast Trail. Some worked better than others. Here are a few that we tried.

Collapse and attach to your pack

This is the most comfortable way to organize your poles but it’s also the most time consuming. You can take your pack off to do it yourself or you can have someone else attach them to your pack for your, if you’re lucky to have someone willing at every ladder. If I had a personal assistant with me on the trail, this is what I’d do. Seeing as it’s such a pain in the real world it doesn’t really work.

Loop around your wrist

This is one of the easiest solutions but it becomes a nightmare when the ladders are close to trees and brush. Every time you move your hands and trekking poles they get caught on some random branch. You spend half your time on the ladders unhooking yourself from the foliage behind it.

Throw them to the bottom

This way is the fastest way down. It only works for short ladders though. Some of the ladders were enormous and on the edge of cliffs, so you’d be tossing your poles off the cliff if you tried this method there. 10 steps down though, no problem. There is the risk of breaking your poles when you throw them. Highly NOT recommend when there are people standing at the bottom of the ladder.

Tuck them between your backpack and back

This is the method I ended up using most. Like Bryn in the photo above, you tuck the poles in between your back and your backpack so they stick out the side. You might have to loosen your pack and curve your back in a bit to get the handles to fit through. Remember handles first! I felt like a ninja pulling the poles out of my pack the first few times. After the 100th ladder I didn’t feel so much like a ninja.

Your turn. Comments? Questions?

How do you carry your trekking poles on ladders? What do you find works best?

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