Photo of walking sticks
From Walking Sticks website
Since the early 90s, Kirk Zenkner, owner of The Tacoma Walking Stick Company has been making and selling walking sticks to hikers traversing western Washington Trails. 

Originally sold in an old gas station converted into a gift shop on his property outside of the Mount Rainier National Park, Zenkner began selling them after he had many customers asking specifically for walking sticks.

A couple of years later, Zenkner began selling sticks to Mount Rainier National Park and Mount St Helens National Volcanic Monument. After becoming a part of Best of the Northwest in 1998, the business has since seen steady growth.

The sticks are harvested from logging sites by hand with a bone saw and pruning shears. Zenkner says that how he selects a tree to be harvested is one of the most important aspects of the process. Trees with scarring from elk and deer rubbing their antlers against the bark are sought after features kept in the final product. Red Alder is Zenkner’s preferred species to work with.

After harvesting, the wood is left in a drying room for at least a year, and must be tested for moisture levels before Zenkner can start work on them.

The sticks are then sanded and shaped. If the bark on the stick is in good condition, Zenkner will leave it be, sanding the top and hand grip. After sanding, the sticks are then given sealed and given either satin or high gloss finish.

A skilled artist, Zenkner not only paints landscapes of the region but also frequently draws on the sticks using colored pencils. The images include wildlife, such as birds, mountain lions and fish. His works also include motifs from local indigenous art, dogs and portraits.

While The Tacoma Walking Stick Company has many walking sticks available, Zenkner also takes custom orders. His sticks are currently available at the Pacific Northwest Shop in Tacoma’s Proctor district or can be ordered directly from Zenkner.
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