Explanation of Trail Names
Trail names, also known as trail handles or trail monikers, are nicknames that hikers and backpackers adopt while on long-distance trails, such as the Appalachian Trail, Pacific Crest Trail, or Continental Divide Trail. These trail names often serve as a symbol of a hiker’s journey and can be a source of pride and identity within the hiking community.
Trail names can be inspired by a variety of sources, including physical characteristics of the hiker, memorable events on the trail, personal quirks or interests, or even just random chance.
Getting a Trail Name
One of the most common ways that hikers acquire their trail names is through memorable events on the trail. For example, a hiker who falls into a river might be dubbed “Splash,” or a hiker who is frequently lost might be called “Wrong Way.” These events can be humorous, embarrassing, or even dangerous, but they often become defining moments in a hiker’s journey and serve as a source of camaraderie and shared experience with other hikers.
Another common source of trail names is physical characteristics of the hiker. Hikers who are particularly tall might be called “High Tower,” while hikers who are on the shorter side might be dubbed “Little Foot.” Physical characteristics can also include distinctive clothing, equipment, or other personal items. For example, a hiker who always wears a green hat might be called “Green Hat,” or a hiker who carries a large backpack might be called “Big Pack.”
Personal quirks and interests can also inspire trail names. For example, a hiker who is always singing might be called “Songbird,” or a hiker who is a fan of a particular TV show might be called “Game of Thrones.” These types of trail names often serve as a way for hikers to express their individuality and share their passions with others on the trail.
In addition to being a way to express identity and individuality, trail names can also serve practical purposes on the trail. Because long-distance hiking often involves meeting new people every day, trail names can help hikers remember each other and build connections more easily. Additionally, trail names can help hikers distinguish each other from the thousands of other hikers on the trail, many of whom may share the same first name.
Trail names can also serve as a way to connect with the history and traditions of long-distance hiking. Many famous long-distance hikers, such as Earl Shaffer, Grandma Gatewood, and Andrew Skurka, have trail names that are well-known within the hiking community. By adopting a trail name, hikers can become part of this tradition and connect with the larger community of hikers who have come before them.
While trail names can be a source of fun and camaraderie on the trail, they can also be a source of controversy. Some hikers argue that trail names perpetuate a culture of anonymity and can make it more difficult to build meaningful connections with other hikers. Others argue that trail names are a fun and harmless way to express individuality and build community on the trail.
Overall, trail names are a unique and meaningful aspect of the long-distance hiking experience. Whether they are inspired by memorable events on the trail, physical characteristics, personal quirks, or shared traditions, trail names serve as a way for hikers to express their identity, connect with others, and become part of a larger community of long-distance hikers.