Trail Names

In the woods trailBefore we get too far, we probably need to talk about “Trail Names”.  Trail names are an interesting part of AT thru-hiker culture. Hikers often are leaving their normal lives with the associated stresses and responsibilities behind. A trail name is one way to disassociate from that previous life and take on a new identity.

A trail name can be acquired in a couple of ways.

  • A “hiker purist” will wait until they are on the trail for their name to be found or given to them. Often it is a unique personality quirk or a funny/embarrassing incident that gives one their personal trail name (sort of a badge of honor).
  • Some hikers will take matters into their own hands and give themselves a trail name. This is less adventurous but prevents the dilemma of being called something you don’t like.

Some colorful trail names I’ve seen include Bear-Bait, Pants Off, Roadkill, Fatty, Misery, Ron Burgundy (I’m looking at you, Mike P ) and Trout Sniffer (??? I have no idea on that one).  Anyway, Lee and I decided to go with option two.

So I’m “SlimTim” and Lee is “Chief”.   SlimTim has existed for quite some time. I’ve read that to make a change in one’s life, you have to own that change. One way to own a change is to name it. Because of knee issues, I’ve had to give up long distance running. About that time in my life I gained an extra 20+ pounds. So I felt like taking on the persona of “SlimTim” a few years ago would be a good first step in losing that weight I had gained. The theory is to name it/own it/etc.  Well … it hasn’t worked so far. So I’m thinking that this forced exercise and diet change program I’m going on may make my name more realistic. If nothing else, giving up the Mountain Dew has to help.
Lee’s name is more obvious. Lee is a retired Fire Chief with 38 years of service with several fire departments. “Chief” is a natural trail name for Lee. (Although he toyed with “eel”, “trail smurf” and “no name”.)

The sign said “eight items or less”. So I changed my name to Les.
— Steven Wright

I bought a dog the other day…I named him Stay. It’s fun to call him…
“Come here, Stay! Come here, Stay!” He went insane. Now he just ignores me
and keeps typing. — Steven Wright (again)

See you on the trail!

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