I use a stick. I've used them for years. Here's why:

They help with wet crossings.

They provide a solid brace when going up or down steep and slippery terrain.

They provide a way to extend a "Hand" to someone I'm hiking with.

I use it constantly to push brush away from my body and face when I'm bushwhacking.

It could be use as critter deterrent if necessary, but I've never actually done that. (I've found it difficult to hit a critter with it when I'm running that fast.)

I hang my hat on it.

I poke my fires with it.

I flip rocks with it in hopes that they might be an arrowhead.

I lean on it when I'm resting.

It feels good to have one with me.

It's nice to look at and reminisce about the miles and places I've toted that stick when I'm not out bushwhacking around <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/wink.gif" alt="" />

My current stick is a branch from a River Willow that was cut and debarked by a beaver. They're light, sturdy, flexible, and have a good grip on most surfaces, so they have become my hiking pole of choice.

I never could get used to using two. I've left too many deep in the forest to want to buy a metal pole and lose it too, so I do occasionally carry back a really good one when I find it. That way I always have a few spares at home. I've had the one I use now for about six years but I've had to go find it more than a few times after leaving it behind.