Jan 4, 2007 at 3:20 pm #1221064
I read a lot about people talking about their trail names. What is a trail name, why would you have one, and how do you get one?Jan 5, 2007 at 5:45 am #1373058
A trail name is a name that you can either give to yourself or someone will give one to you if you're on a long hike.
Be warned … if someone gives you a trail name, and you answer to it, even once, you're stuck with it.
Example … we had one nice fella join our loose knit group in Texas who had problems with his generic freezer bags breaking when he poured in boiling water … and was therefore known after that trip as "Ziplock". His wife, who weighed in at about 105 lbs, was going with him on a trip to the Wind river range later that summer, and was carrying a 40 lb pack that he had packed to "get her into shape" for the trip. When she was digging into the pack for her food bag, right on top was a white towel … when she pulled it out, a 5 pound dumbell fell out to the ground.
When questioned …. her husband (ziplock) told us that he couldn't think of another way to get her packweight up to 40 lbs for a weekend outing. She, being in love with Zippy, decided to continue to carry the dumbell for the weekend.
Her trail name … from then on, became …..
"Hikes with Dumbell".
I could tell you a number of other stories, and everyone has a colorful story to tell about how they got there own trail name …. but be careful what you answer to!Jan 5, 2007 at 6:43 am #1373065
@pjLocale: LazyBoy in my Den - miss the forest
>>"Hikes with Dumbell (sic)"
Very nice double-entendre.
I like it, particularly as it targets the husband more than the poor wife – though i question her wisdom in not sneaking the dumbbell into her hubby's pack.Jan 5, 2007 at 7:18 am #1373071
There are some very practical points to having trail names as well. There are lots of Shawns and Chris's and Kerris and Tanyas on a big trail like the AT, but not many Bearpaws or Woodchucks or Peppers or Baadais. Trail names linger in the minds much more effectively than traditional names.
They also make great conversation starters.
In long-distance hiking circles, they often precede you. Registers give many people a chance to read the thoughts and exploits of the likes of Biohazard or Skunkmonkey or Greybeard. Other hikers are usually excited to meet the "legendary" PoopaJack they've read so much about. But they might not even remember the name if they just met Bill. Also, as I hike other long trails, folks get the idea that this isn't my first hike when I sign a register or wilderness check-in log as Bearpaw. And it doesn't diminish the abilities of authorities to find me in the event of an emergency. Every other hiker out there will know me as Bearpaw (as does my family). If I signed as Shawn Basil, lots of hikers who know me would ask "who?"
If you have a nickname already, that sometimes makes a good trail name. If not, it's often better to offer one that matches your personality before you get tagged with one by someone else.Jan 5, 2007 at 6:19 pm #1373174
@jjpittsLocale: Midwest US
My understanding is that you are assigned a trail name at some point by a group of hiking buddies in a ceremony that generally involves some level if mischief and a little alcohol…
I won't tell you mine!Jan 5, 2007 at 7:28 pm #1373183
@asciibaronLocale: Mid Atlantic
are earned, not given. luckily, i have yet to earn one – i've been close, but nothing yet…
-SteveJan 5, 2007 at 10:44 pm #1373211
I think trail names are a great tradition, but they have a down side. When a hiker fails to arrive at an expected destination, it is sometimes difficult for those searching for the lost hiker to get reliable information because the hiker is known on the trail by a name different from the name known to those looking for the hiker. So, for example, a hiker named John Donovan goes missing on the PCT and those who last saw him know him only as Sea Breeze. Recently there was considerable concern when a PCT hiker known as Moutain Tripper failed to pick up his resupply boxes. Is Mountain Tripper the same as the hiker known as Trip? (Ultimate Answer: No) So what happened to Mountain Tripper? (Ultimate answer: Quit the trail in Northern California and was quite embarassed at all the concern for his whereabouts.) Anyway, if you use a trail name it might not be a bad idea to make sure your trail name is known those charged with the responsibility of initiating a search for you if you fail to return.Jan 5, 2007 at 10:58 pm #1373213
Laurie Ann MarchMember
@laurie_annLocale: Ontario, Canada
I can't believe I am going to admit this but hubby calls me turtle.
There are a few reasons – one I have a slower pace than some hikers – I like to stop and take photos and really enjoy the journey.
The other reason is that I seem to get turtled with my pack every couple of years.Jan 5, 2007 at 11:04 pm #1373215
I found that on the PCT I knew more people's "real names" and their Trail names. This is extremely helpful when you arrive in town and want to find your friends in hotels.
On the AT I knew far fewer "real names". I am not sure if that's because of the shear number of people that hike the AT versus the PCT or that I hiked around the same people for a longer stint.
My favorite part about my trail name (which was a college nickname that transitioned since I hiked with college friends a lot) is that people would have this mental picture about me and when they would finally meet me they would say…"your NITRO?"
Ok, it's a little easier to understand when you actually see me…when most people hear NITRO they think of the big beefy guy from American Gladiators…I am a 5'5" woman. I still get a kick out of it.
Oh yeah, if you don't like your earned name…don't answer to it…it usually dies out when you don't respond…usually.
NITROJan 6, 2007 at 4:54 am #1373224
So … your new trail name shall be ….
"needs trail name"Jan 6, 2007 at 10:41 pm #1373342
@frankenfeetLocale: Great Lakes
One of my friends named Jon seemed to kind of lose trail names. They just didn't stick and other hikers would stop using them and simply call him Jon. Somebody finally came up with Teflon Jon. This one stuck.Jan 7, 2007 at 11:12 am #1373395
My favorite is one I gave my buddy on an all hell broke loose-rain-hail-sleet-snowy trip last march. 'Cotton' got his name not only by wearing cotton shirts, but what looked like dress shoes and slacks, forgetting batteries for his 2lb flashlight, forgetting fuel for his stove, being 6'8" and wearing a childrens pack, had no sleeping pad, and having no clue what his sleeping bag was rated to. (turned out to be 20* but he ended up having to spoon with a flatulent friend because it got down to 11*). I thought 'cotton' embodied the complete lack of preperation he had on that trip.Mar 13, 2007 at 7:07 pm #1382179
@redleaderLocale: Luxury-Light Luke on the Llano Azul
In 1991 I spent the summer leading a group of beginning backpackers. I usually have at least one piece of clothing that's red. Sometimes I wear alot of red. That summer one of the hikers (Peter Oqvist) started calling me Red Leader. None of the others called me that.
On our last hike I was using a bivy and had no private place to get dressed. One morning as I was putting on my shorts one of the ladies (Tara Kean) saw that I happened to be wearing red underware. She announced to one and all that I really was the Red Leader.
After dinner on our last evening of that trip I was instructed to sit in the center of the circle of hikers. Two by two they walked up in front of me and recited a verse of an epic limerick they had composed.
There once was a hiker named Denis,
in the Woods he was truly a menace.
He dressed all in red, from his toes to his head,
luring hikers from Marin to Martinez.
For our class he had many a tip,
on how to do that and do this.
Through heat and through hail,
he found many a trail,
and rarely did lead us amiss.
He pushed us up o'er Rock Bound Pass,
despite our moans, groans and our gasps.
To meadow and lake
our backs and feet ache.
Eureka! We found it at last.
"Drink Water!" he said with a snap.
"And get out your compass and map."
He snored through the night,
then awoke at first light.
"Get up now, and none of your c*r*a*p".
His fame it has grown through the year,
Along with his BS and gear.
With his stove, staff and pack,
the chair strapped to his back,
for our jolly Red Leader we cheer!!
It was a bit of a sniffley moment and I've been the Red Leader ever since.Mar 14, 2007 at 1:59 am #1382219
Denis, that is just awesome. I bet that memory makes up for a lot of effort you have put into your hiking club over the years.
My trail name I suppose is just the katakana(phonetic) version of my name, Buretosan. After years of trying to get where I am now, it's nice to hear.
Somehow here at PBL I have acquired the title 'pimp', for promoting MB so enthusiastically. So I'll need a purple velvet hat (and MB catalogs) for my eventual PCT hike..
edit:picture replaced due to popular demand..Mar 14, 2007 at 5:34 am #1382225
@redleaderLocale: Luxury-Light Luke on the Llano Azul
Wasn't it you that was using the "Dude" in lime green for an avatar awhile back? Trail names are cool. In CARRYING A GOOD THING TOO FAR we have Draggin' Lady, Pyro Man, Four Mile, Obviousman, Mule, Por Donnde, Navigator, Literal Drift, Tracker, Death March and Sticker. Each one has a story and sometimes a newbie wants to know "Why do you call Debbie Death March?" That sets off an evening of story telling, such as the summer of '95's "Hike from hell to Lake Winifred". Lots of fond memories in those trail names.Mar 14, 2007 at 9:52 am #1382248
Ben 2 WorldParticipant
@ben2worldLocale: So Cal
Brett wrote, "Somehow here at PBL I have acquired the title 'pimp', for promoting MB so enthusiastically".
Yes, I was the one who conferred this title to you. It was pretty clear that you deserved it more than anybody else here. And yes, you may thank me by giving me your second Houdini wind jacket.
Purple is the wrong color. You need to stick to MontBell green. Indeed, the picture of your green outfit next to the green MB tent should be your permanent avatar — it's definitely instant recognition. :)Mar 14, 2007 at 10:12 am #1382256
Well, picture changed back to MB-green dude. Considering avatar change.
Pimps only give the first one for free; the Patagonia Ho-dini is a fine piece of @$$ my man..Mar 14, 2007 at 10:57 am #1382263
Ben 2 WorldParticipant
@ben2worldLocale: So Cal
Much better. All that is left is to change your avatar.Mar 14, 2007 at 2:18 pm #1382297
@hammer-oneLocale: Walking With The Son
Whenever I sign a trail register I use both my given name and my trail name. If I need to be found it depends on who's looking as to what name the authorities will search out. My parents don't know my trail name, but my wife and kids do, so, better safe than sorry. As far as getting a trail name, be careful what you ask for…..
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