Your Trail Name is You

One of the biggest things that new hikers on the Appalachian Trail are worried about is their trail names. A trail name is how you identify yourself to other hikers – it’s a pseudonym that will follow you around forever and have stories attached to it. So naturally, everyone wants a cool name and some are tempted to give themselves one.

Don’t.

I say this out of love – don’t give yourself a trail name. It’s not who YOU are on the trail, it’s who you THINK you’re going to be on the trail. Those are two very different people. In fact, they are such wildly different people that you’ll sometimes wonder who that other person is.

I can think of a handful of people who have given themselves trail names before they got on the trail who actually embodied their trail names, and that had more to do with who they were as a person than anything.

Plus, you want a great story to go along with your trail name right? You don’t want to have to give the answer “oh, well it sounded cool so I picked it.” No! You want an awesome story, like Talker has!

Talker’s name relates back to his hike, and the person who he is. Imagine if he’d chosen a name before hand, like “Strider”. It wouldn’t have reflected the man who he was –  a sleep talking, hilarious young man.

My name relates back to my first hike and the spices I was carrying in a novel way. Little Spoon’s relates back to his off-hand comment about how he “sometimes like to be the little spoon in bed”. Chuckles got hers because you could hear her laugh for miles, and she was always laughing. Snakebite got bit by that snake and Fire Eater went after the bacon in the fire. It’s who they were, are.

I know you’re anxious about trail names. I know you want something cool. Don’t take the easy way out – wait for it. It’ll be awesome. If you do get one you’re not comfortable with, you don’t have to take it. You can say “no, I’m not okay with that name” if it’s something that disturbs you or puts you off – that’s fine.

But artifically creating a name for yourself, when you don’t know who you’re going to be? I would advise against it. Especially not Strider. Because every time I meet a “Strider” I make it my goal in life to rename them.

Strider became Slider this year. Strider became Hatchet. Strider became Slowpoke. Strider became Nap Time.

So wait for your name. Have adventures. Do silly things. Carry silly things. You’ll get an awesome name. Promise.

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About Doc Spice

I walked around 4,000 miles between 2012 and 2013 on the Appalachian Trail. A time of discovery, life, joy and pain. Now I'm a hometown adventurer, explorer of the alley around the corner, the national park up the road, the next long hike and the beautiful, intelligent woman I talk to a lot. I'm a little crazy. But I think that's ok.

Posted on 01/31/2014, in New Hiker Advice and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. You might be right BUT, I have been saying hoba caitbe for years. When canoeing or kayaking or hiking and coming to a rough stretch, “how bad can it be” just came out of my mouth. We will see.

    • As with anything, it’s all a personal thing. There were people who had personal sayings they used daily that became their trail names almost instantly because it was memorable to them. It’s all about the person you are – and for the average hiker coming into the AT – they don’t have a clue who they are out there.

      As with everything – be open to change is all! 🙂

  2. singlegirlhiking

    Truth!

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