Actually, I would rather have had only one, because it would be like my right arm by now. Lots of stories I suspect. But it was taken. Let me explain.
I had originally one that I got from a favorite place to hike a long time ago. Stoney Creek, it was called. The trail where Ruddy and I saw the big mother bear and two cubs. We also saw the three mountain lion cubs there, maybe a year old I surmise because they were full size, but are solitary after they grow up at about a year (you can read more about this at my True Stories post). That trail has since been removed by the owner due to bad behavior from users. I once saw a cretin walking down the trail, testing out his gun and hunting prowess. After I passed him I saw along the trail the bodies of dead animals littering the ground. People left a lot of trash there too. So I guess that made the land owner have second thoughts. I would too. A pity, though, because I liked it. It also led to this beautiful swimming pond at the top of a hill, on a flattened plateau.
But I digress.
This walking stick was from a manzanita. It has a very red, smooth bark. Being a hardwood, it’s fairly heavy compared to other wood too, so it doesn’t split. The only problem is, it’s almost never straight, so if you’re going to have one, you gotta accept the curvy nature of it.
Anyway, I loved this stick. Had even fashioned a cloth wrist support in it from a piece of an old sheet. So what happened to it? I took my car to a carwash one day. The stick was inside. I took it out and leaned it against something to vacuum the carpeting too. But leaving that place, I neglected to take my stick. I went back the block to my then house. Suddenly, it occurred to me what I’d done. I rushed back to the car wash, but it was already gone. It only took a few moments.
So I got a madrone one (both are related natives, btw). It also has smooth red bark (though not as red). And it’s straighter. But I soon discovered why it was lighter then the manzanita. It didn’t hold the water. It evaporated out, then cracked. I mention it in Opalescence.
“He found a possible replacement for the split madrone. Manzanita was also attractively smooth-barked and ruddy colored, perhaps more so, and it appeared to be very hard. Problem was, unlike madrone, it was usually twisted and crooked. Finally, he found one that was passably linear. He took it with the handsaw and fashioned it, while they sat under an avocado tree in an open space.”
Here you can compare pictures of them both.
This is my madrone walking stick.
Looks uncracked in this version, but on the other side are some big, wide ones. The hand support also half broke off so it’s unusable for that. And the bottom end broke off when I caught it in a grate. But you can still see the name “Ruddy” marked in it, my beloved dog. I’ve had it since before my daughter was born. Still, though it’s said to be a hardwood, it’s not nearly as hard as a manzanita.
Anyway, seeing how the madrone is kind of bad, I obtained another manzanita. Again it has the wrist support, which is really good as it supports the hand on ups and downs and it keeps it from slipping. This is it. It’s already been on a life or death hike with me.
Well that’s it. Happy hikes!