My first thought was just to wrap my flexible Joby tripod somehow around the poles but I wanted something stable and very easy to set up/take down. While trying to figure out the head situation, I did find someone online who attempted with machined aluminium what I was trying to do. I don't have access to all of that stuff so I looked around at what I did have. I tried wood at first. The light stuff I had broke during prototyping. Next step was asking Noel if we could retire our plastic cutting board. She agreed so I copied the angles I had figured out that my regular tripod legs use. I did this just by holding the drill alongside the legs to come close to the tripod angles. I drilled the holes next to each other to allow clearance for the ballhead to rotate down for portrait photos.
I went with a Joby Ballhead
($25) tripod attachment for the mount.
After being satisfied with the strength and angles, I cut the plastic cutting board down then smoothed the cut down using the ol' concrete patio method.
I had been all prepared to actually thread the cutting board holes so the poles could thread on (with the pole provided snow basket mounts) but it was not at all necessary. The angles kept everything in place and that would have been overkill and more time consuming in the field. I could actually one hand move the tripod around if I kept tension on a couple legs.
It took a lot for me to leave the trusty tripod at home but the new contraption performed awesome. The pole handles gripped the ground well on rock or dirt, even at odd angles. And adjustments were just as quick as using a regular tripod. If you have only two trekking poles, a free woods stick would work just fine for the third leg.
End result: https://hikearizona.com/photo.php?ZIP=661636
My tripod weighs as much as my 2 person tent. I'm not going to spend 3x the amount just to shave 1.5lbs with a carbon fiber model. Given that Noel and I were already looking at graduating to trekking poles for our upcoming trip, I thought maybe I could rig something up. An REI visit confirmed that I should be shopping on Amazon. I picked up our two set of poles for $36/pair (Cascade Mountain Tech Carbon Fiber Trekking Poles).