Nothing makes trekking through the wilderness easier than a good, sturdy hiking stick. Make yours personal by constructing it yourself.
Step 1: Find a stick Find a straight, strong stick or branch. Long roots and saplings with a diameter of 5-to-7 inches at the wide end work well. Look for sticks with a slight taper, and long enough to trim to about 5 feet 6 inches in length.
Step 2: Strip it Strip your stick down to the bare wood, peeling away the bark and trimming off all of the bark, branches, and knots. Use a saw to remove anything that you can't scrape away with your pocketknife.
Step 3: Let it cure Allow your stick to dry out for four to six weeks. A warm, sunny location is best, but the most important thing is to keep it dry. Check it periodically for insects and rot.
Step 4: Sand your stick Sand your stick after it's cured. Start with a coarse-grit sandpaper, such as 120 grit, and work your way up to a fine grit, such as 600 to 800 grit. Sand your stick until it's smooth and poses no splinter threat.
Step 5: Drill a hole Drill a hole through your stick, near the handle, and thread the leather cord through the hole. Then tie a knot in the cord so that you have a wrist strap.
TIP: Some people find a wrist strap uncomfortable, but using one guards against dropping and losing your stick.
Step 6: Apply finish Apply a coat of oil stain or varnish, and then a coat of polyurethane to protect your stick. When the polyurethane dries, rub it with fine steel wool, and then apply another coat.
TIP: You can use colored or clear finishes -- whichever best suits you.
Step 7: Paint it Paint your stick in any style you like, or else keep it natural looking. Go for a hike and use your stick for support as you traverse rough terrain.
FACT: When hiking the Grand Canyon from rim to river to rim, hikers have to deal with an elevation differential of more than 10,000 feet.