Reading Phil's excellent piece, over on Doodlecat, on his first TGO Challenge, now ten years ago, I noticed that Lynnie and I were even then both sporting pairs of walking poles. As a walker with a very dodgy right ankle (horribly damaged in a company Rounder's match in 1990) and a nastily damaged right knee (sickeningly sliced open by a tin can in 1966) I was an early adopter of walking poles.
For me, walking with poles isn't about reducing the number of elephants on my knees - to do that I would need the wrists and arms of a weightlifter and just transfer the problem of dodgy joints to my arms instead. I use poles relatively infrequently; on rough ground and steep ascents and descents.
On the rough ground they are used solely as lateral support. That way the muscles around my ankles, knees and hips aren't constantly bracing to resist the possible jolt and twist. I walk more naturally and 'loosen up' and the poles just correct any lateral slips. On steep up and down hilly bits I do use the poles for either extra impetus or additional braking.
For the rest of the time, my poles are usually stowed in my quick access holders on my pack. This means that I am generally carrying the things! Over the years I have invested in lighter and lighter poles, but even my Leki 'Titanium' poles are anything but lightweight.
When I was on my way to Braemar on the 2007 Chally (on my LEJOG) I caught up with a tall slender chap, who turned out to be Colin Ibbotson. I had to walk like fury to catch up with him but I was intrigued by his silhouette. Well not his silhouette but that of his walking poles. They were incredibly slender. I had to have a go with them to see how resilient they were. They were made of carbon fibre, you see. After trying them and being amazed at their lightness I was determined to track down a pair for myself.
Colin very kindly pointed me in the direction of Titanium Goat - as they were just starting production of a two piece adjustable pole rather than the fixed length single pole that Colin was using. After two very unsuccessful attempts at trying to buy a pair from the company (they were never in stock!) I gave up.
And then - I happened to read Roman's blog to find a review comparing his old Goat Poles with his new Gossamer Gear Lightrek 4 poles. Roman is a bit of a god, actually!
And so now a new pair of poles at the astonishingly light weight of 194 grams are winging their way over the Atlantic for me. I suppose it was a bit of a comfort purchase. And very happy it has made me too.