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R2R Hike

I'll be doing a canyon r2r hike in May. Was supposed to be a R2R2R, but the old knee said nope! Anywho, I've still got a few things left to pick up.

1- Headlamp. Any favorites? I prefer something simple without 37 modes. I'm not looking to break the bank as I'll be buying 2 (wife) so that could play a small part maybe?? It'll be minimum running in the dark.

2- Poles. Any suggestions? I have a blown out knee that i was supposed to replace years ago but i'm stubborn. Do poles actually help with hills and is it worth the aggravation of having to hold them?

There'll be more, but i'll stop here for now. 

Thanks for the help!!

I've had four surgeries on one knee. 
I think poles are for stability on tricky surfaces like scree and snow, but not much use for taking a load off the knees on a trail.  I find a staff is a better aid for bad knees.  Nothing really helps the knees, going up.  Our arms aren't strong enough to take a significant load for thousands of repetitions.  And going downhill with poles requires you  to bend and reach for the placement, while a staff is long enough to reach for you, without getting out of position.  But my POV is in the minority, as you'll see when others chime in.

Unless you've been doing a lot of hill work, you may want to reconsider all of that vertical, of an R2R.  But don't take my word, go and find yourself a multistory stairwell and climb the equivalent of 1000 feet, then do it again the next day.  If you feel too beat up to complete two of these stair workouts in two days, you're not ready for the canyon, let alone a R2R with a pack. 

Ed

This will be a same day hike. I've been doing heavy hill work since the start of Jan. It'll be rough, but i'm not too worried about the hike itself. Just trying to tie up lose ends and don't want to waste money on items that may not hold up well.

The pack is minimum. I'll be carrying an Ultimate Direction fkt vest

We'll be anticipating your TR, when you get back!

Ed

Ed, my wife uses hiking poles, and adjusts them to be much longer going downhill, so her arms are always making a right angle...

That's how she was taught to use the in the Andes. Seems to work

balzaccom said:

Ed, my wife uses hiking poles, and adjusts them to be much longer going downhill, so her arms are always making a right angle...

That's how she was taught to use the in the Andes. Seems to work

That does work, but...

One ends up having to readjust the poles whenever the terrains requires a different configuration (i.e. adjusting pole length).  My observation is most folks don't bother readjusting their poles, at all, or not as frequently as they should.  They very often make do with less than optimal pole configurations.  I've noticed this is especially problematic where trails thread though a rock outcropping (or similar, complex obstacle) and portions of the trail with "stair steps" (e.g. the turning point of a switchback). 

In my 60 years of hiking I know of three or four people who have injured themselves from falling on trail, with no staff or poles.  During the last 30 years when trekking poles have become popular, I knew three other people who injured themselves in a fall while using trekking poles.  I know no one who got hurt using a staff, albeit that may be because not enough people use a staff to generate comparable stats.

The maximum extension of most trekking poles is less 55"; the vast majority are shorter (the longest is 59").   Most staffs are 72"; mine is 67".  I have found there are instances on almost every mountain trail I travel  when I wish my staff was longer.  Obviously if my long staff is not long enough to afford the right angle position at my elbow, then anything shorter would require straying even further from the desired ergonomic posture.  Insufficiently long poles were probably a contributing cause of the above mentioned pole hiker injuries. 

That said, the OP may get by with poles on the Bright Angel R2R hike, as those trails are graded to accommodate lots of passenger carrying stock animals.  If they are using one of the less traveled South Rim trails, however, they will surely encounter a bunch of deep knee bending drops in the trail. 

Ed 

One ends up having to readjust the poles whenever the terrains requires a different configuration (i.e. adjusting pole length).  My observation is most folks don't bother readjusting their poles, at all, or not as frequently as they should.  They very often make do with less than optimal pole configurations. 

You haven't met my wife...At the top of every pass, and the bottom of every canyon, it's time to adjust the poles (and take a short break...) 

Whats the average(lots of options i know) weight difference between two poles and a single staff? That would be my biggest concern. Also, the poles pack away when not in use.

I don't even know if i want to use them. I suppose i could pick some up at rei and then return them if i see no benefit after a couple of hikes.

omatty said:

Whats the average(lots of options i know) weight difference between two poles and a single staff? That would be my biggest concern. Also, the poles pack away when not in use.

I don't even know if i want to use them. I suppose i could pick some up at rei and then return them if i see no benefit after a couple of hikes.

I made my own staff.  Your profile indicates you are an engineer - this is a project that you should be able to complete in a few hours spread over two days.  The plans are here.  This staff weighs close to that of a single trekking pole from the lightest of poles available.  As the article describes, you can carry it by your side when not in use, grasping it at the balance point, using two fingers .   It is so light it is barely noticeable.  Held thusly it aids the cadence of your stride when you naturally swing your arms with your stride.

This staff design can be built to telescope, so it is compact enough to fit in a pack, by adding a second collet joint.

Ed

balzaccom said:

One ends up having to readjust the poles whenever the terrains requires a different configuration (i.e. adjusting pole length).  My observation is most folks don't bother readjusting their poles, at all, or not as frequently as they should.  They very often make do with less than optimal pole configurations. 

You haven't met my wife...At the top of every pass, and the bottom of every canyon, it's time to adjust the poles (and take a short break...) 

But that is exactly my point; adjusting once at the top or bottom of a grade provides only an approximate configuration.   I enjoy a precise grip position simply by locating my hand anywhere along a very long grip surface. 

Walking-Staff-01.jpg

I can shorten my staff for up hills (as shown), so it doesn't tip my hat while under way; otherwise it is 7" longer.  The grip is 36" long, providing a very wide range of step elevations it can accommodate without need to perform any adjustments or  resorting to stances that are not ergonomic.

If you are negotiating  obstacles that range from 7" to 24"+ step elevations, often back to back, whatever the length trekking poles are preset  (as you describe) will not be sufficient to address such a range without compromising ergonomics.  One either stops and readjusts their poles for each obstacle; or they grasp the pole along the shaft where the grip is unsatisfactory to hold one's weight; or palm the top of the handle, like a cane, and risk a fall if they misalign the force vector extending from the pole tip through their shoulder.  One could add some sort of grip surface on trekking pole shafts, to afford more, safe grip positions, but that would add significant weight, affecting the swing motion of the pole and its center of gravity.

Ed

whomeworry said:

omatty said:

Whats the average(lots of options i know) weight difference between two poles and a single staff? That would be my biggest concern. Also, the poles pack away when not in use.

I don't even know if i want to use them. I suppose i could pick some up at rei and then return them if i see no benefit after a couple of hikes.

I made my own staff.  Your profile indicates you are an engineer - this is a project that you should be able to complete in a few hours spread over two days.  The plans are here.  This staff weighs close to that of a single trekking pole from the lightest of poles available.  As the article describes, you can carry it by your side when not in use, grasping it using two fingers by the balance point.   It is so light it is barely noticeable.  Held thusly it aids the cadence of your stride when you naturally swing your arms with your stride.

This staff design can be built to telescope, so it is compact enough to fit in a pack, by adding a second collet joint.

Ed

 I should update that to read - Electrical Engineer    HA

Very nice write up! I plan to make a few of those just to have and pass out to some friends. Anything you would change about it now?

omatty said:

whomeworry said:

omatty said:

Whats the average(lots of options i know) weight difference between two poles and a single staff? That would be my biggest concern. Also, the poles pack away when not in use.

I don't even know if i want to use them. I suppose i could pick some up at rei and then return them if i see no benefit after a couple of hikes.

I made my own staff.  Your profile indicates you are an engineer - this is a project that you should be able to complete in a few hours spread over two days.  The plans are here.  This staff weighs close to that of a single trekking pole from the lightest of poles available.  As the article describes, you can carry it by your side when not in use, grasping it using two fingers by the balance point.   It is so light it is barely noticeable.  Held thusly it aids the cadence of your stride when you naturally swing your arms with your stride.

This staff design can be built to telescope, so it is compact enough to fit in a pack, by adding a second collet joint.

Ed

 I should update that to read - Electrical Engineer    HA

Very nice write up! I plan to make a few of those just to have and pass out to some friends. Anything you would change about it now?

The specs I provide use the second and third smallest diameter carbon tubes.  I made one for my daughter that uses the smallest two diameters, and that works fine.  If you are making a fit-in-the-pack three section staff, you should use the three smallest tube sizes that accommodate the collet (or cam clamps) you'll use at the joints.

The metal tip insert is both a wear surface, as well as a counter weight to give the staff good balance.  The three tube option will probably require cutting the length of the tip insert shorter, to compensate for the added mass of the second joint's hardware.

Ed

Depending on terrain, I think poles shift some of the impact from knees to shoulders. The poles i have used for a number of years are black diamond alpine carbon cork. Before that, i used another pair of black diamond poles that had a similar locking system, but the poles were aluminum and the grips were synthetic - rubbery. That’s my experience; I know a number of people who like Leki poles, particularly the contoured grips. 

I also make them one or two marks (5-10 cm) longer on long downhills, which is why i prefer collapsible poles with some sort of locking mechanism vs. fixed length.  For uphills, i use the section below the main grip sometimes - you’ll see that some poles have a padded section below the primary grip to aid this kind of ‘shortening up.’  Benefit of lighter-weight poles is that they’re less of a burden to collapse and carry if they weigh less, plus less weight swinging in your hand.

i don’t use the hand/wrist straps on steep sections, uphill or downhill, because if the pole gets stuck in a crack, i want to be able to let go, and i think the straps can lead to losing your balance in some situations. less concern on flatter trails.  

I  have known three people that have led mule strings for a living in GC.  Ross Knox got the bronco mules that could not carry tourists.  He used the Bright Angel Trail and could get to Phantom Ranch loaded in 3.5 hours.  Coming out mail and trash took around 4.5 hours.

He brought to puncher friends to ride the GC in the dark.   They could not decide if it was scarier in the dark or the light.   A scary place and the land of the vertical.  I like boat trips best,

I have hiked both the BA and the SK in daylight and dark.  Not at all scary when you are on foot and not perch high atop a critter. Best time going up, slightly under two hours in perfect weather.

Headlamp: I can heartily recommend the BD Storm 375 or maybe the 400 version. Plenty of options and long battery life. 

Poles: I tested and was reasonably impressed by the Leki MC12 Vario Carbon, mainly because of the releasable hand straps for photo ops etc. They are pricey, so if you don't need adjustable length you might look for a fixed length Z pole,  but I don't know what's available with quick release straps.

Have fun!

BigRed said:

Headlamp: I can heartily recommend the BD Storm 375 or maybe the 400 version. Plenty of options and long battery life. 

Poles: I tested and was reasonably impressed by the Leki MC12 Vario Carbon, mainly because of the releasable hand straps for photo ops etc. They are pricey, so if you don't need adjustable length you might look for a fixed length Z pole,  but I don't know what's available with quick release straps.

Have fun!

 Just by chance i ended up with a BD 400 for myself and a 350 for the wife. 

I'm still torn on the poles. I also still have to figure out food. I've been trying all the different energy chews etc. I really like the honey stinger stuff. 

What is your experience hiking in the desert southwest?  If you are not acclimatized, carry plenty of water.  If you are acclimatized, carry plenty of water.  Water is available on the BA, but not on the South Kaibab.

hikermor said:

What is your experience hiking in the desert southwest?  If you are not acclimatized, carry plenty of water.  If you are acclimatized, carry plenty of water.  Water is available on the BA, but not on the South Kaibab.

 zero. i'm from middle TN. I plan to carry a 2 litter bladder and 2 collapsible flask which i plan to fill whenever possible.

I would recommend a three liter bladder.  It can be really hot down there. Do a lot of hiking pre dawn or early morning if at all possible.

hikermor said:

I would recommend a three liter bladder.  It can be really hot down there. Do a lot of hiking pre dawn or early morning if at all possible.

 we plan to start about 2 hours before sunrise.

Ended up picking up a pair of Leki micro vario aluminum poles.

I haven't used them yet but i can already tell the edges on the grips are gonna cause problems. I'll try to sand them down at least flush with everything. I'm heading over to the cades cove area this weekend to hit up thunderhead. Should be a good test.

Good start time! Enjoy the canyon....

Trip went great. North to South in right at 11 hours. Words CANNOT describe that place! I made this video more for my family vs everyday people wanting to watch a canyon video. I'll try to do equipment reviews when time allows. 

I have one question. 

If you have a problem knee why are you planning a R2R?

14 hours of vertical in the heat. 

ppine said:

I have one question. 

If you have a problem knee why are you planning a R2R?

14 hours of vertical in the heat. 

 solid question. I've been avoiding a knee replacement since i was 17. I've learned what i can and can't do and stay within an ok pain level. With huge advancements in that field, i've decided to just do whatever and will replace when i can't stand it anymore.

That said:

I was really only worried about the decent, uphill has never bothered me much. luckily for me (no one else), they've brought in a ton of sand to fill the voids left behind by the mule's. That pretty much cushioned every step for me on the way down. 

October 27, 2021
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