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Thread: Trail Names

  1. #1
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    Default Trail Names

    I read somewhere that the internet is destroying the tradition of trail names. That is, they used to be given to you on the trail, based on some quirk or personal trait that others observed. Volia, you had a trail name. Now, people arrive on the AT with their own self-chosen names, which they've usually adopted on forums like this before setting out.

    Anyone care to comment on this?

  2. #2

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    I started hiking the Trail last summer without a trail name. The first day out I stopped and chatted with a dozen hikers or so and I believe everyone had a trail name. It wasn't long, in one of the discussions the name came to me, it wasn't assigned. But it did make it easier from then on as you seem to be "more accepted" in the trail community with a trail name.

  3. #3
    Registered User Peaks's Avatar
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    Good trail names are earned, not self appinted

  4. #4

    Default Trailnames

    Hi steve hiker. I interviewed almost 400 hikers in Duncannon PA in 2002. Many hikers were self-named with interesting reasons, some "earned" the trailname, often for odd happenings and a few resisted imposed monikers like one unfortunate lad tagged Mooch who failed to start out with enough chow. Others went thru several trailnames. Quite a few hikers carry the same name, and there are others with close names (Crispy! v Krispie). One part of my draft book is devoted to hikers explaining how they got their trailname and the significance, if any. Since the NOBO trek is more social, my guess is more NOBOs use trailnames than SOBOs. However, I wouldn't worry about any internet influence.
    None of the hikers mentioned anything about internet influence altho I've interviewed hikers with trailnames in Duncannon that did not have trailnames on , say, Trailjournals. Don't sweat the small stuff; the trail will provide.
    ;-) Happy Trails!

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    Yeah sure Peaks.

  6. #6

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    I kind of see Peaks point although he didn't elaborate. Like a "real " trail name "comes from the trail" and not from yourself or even others off the trail. Almost like, other traditional items involving the Trail. Having said that, even with a "self-assigned" trail name, or even a nickname, you could be given a new trail name by the trail. I have seen this happen. Of course, no one wants an embarassing name. I imagine there are some that the trail never assigns a name to. In my opinion it is still much easier for trail people to talk back and forth with a nick name or trail name.

  7. #7
    Registered User A-Train's Avatar
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    Default names

    Peaks I don't understand. Wheres the harm in picking ur own name. I hate to keep echoing the broken record but HYOH. The whole idea is to go hike for yourself. Ideally one wants to be as happy as possible out there, so why not be called what you wanna be called?
    A-Train

  8. #8

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    Skeemer, I do not disagree with anything you mention. I love trailnames. The use of trailnames allowed me, a sedentary stranger, to obtain answers to sometimes very personal questions. I believe trailnames will flourish and endure because they facilitate social interaction while simultaneously protecting cherished privacy.

  9. #9
    Registered User gravityman's Avatar
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    Default Trail Names

    We had a tough times with our trail names. They just never seemed to come. We were known by several names in the beginning, and it was starting to get confusing. It was a relief when Tuffie finally got her name (at NOC from Lumberjack after she kept saying how tough this was and how tough that was). It took me a lot longer to get one that seemed to stick. I was Rocketman for a while because I was going to work for an Aerospace company after I finished (forgot who gave that to me), but people didn't really seem to like that too much. Finally I was renamed by Yogi (AT 99, PCT 2002) at Kincora. I was explain how I did my thesis work on Gravity Waves, and she said "Rocketman is a stupid name. You should be named Gravity Man" and that was that.

    The lesson is if you wait for the trail to really pick your name, it could take a LONG time. In the end I think it would have been better if we just picked names early on. It makes it a lot easier in the beginning to be accepted into the hiking community. Then you can always get renamed if people insist. Tuffie almost got renamed at Kincora too, but she refused to take it

    Anyway, I don't think that people should get too hung up on "getting named by the trail" as we were. It would have been a lot easier to pick for ourselves, and we would have been accepted a lot sooner. Next time I am sticking with my current trail name, and Tuffie will probably rename herself 'cause she doesn't really like that name (although its really funny when she says it in her mock high-pitched voice "I'm TOUGHIE!

    As with most things, the trail will do what it will to you, and you will learn to adapt to it...

    But people should try to stay away from the cheesy trailnames if they are naming themselves...

    Gravity man

  10. #10
    Donating Member/AT Class of 2003 - The WET year
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    Well ...I started off in 2001 without a trail name and was promtly given the name "Toot". Read my inital entry on Trailjournals.com if you want to know the nitty gritty details.
    Anyway, for this years thru I wanted to have a trail name that meant something to ME, as well as others. That was why I chose my trail name in advance of this year's hike.
    Truth be told, I did use the internet to research the derivation of the name once I located it. But I can't blame the internet for the initial discovery. Dug it out of a thesaurus in a section having to to with walking, hiking and marching.
    The more I learn ...the more I realize I don't know.

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    I can imagine there are many right wing introverts named Lone Wolf that wander the AT but I'm glad that we have the original right here. Not meant as a slam so don't nail me to a tree!

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    No problem Lugnut. I named myself 17 years ago. According to Peaks it's not a good one. I didn't earn it. I haven't earned an AT patch or certificate either. Never will. I'm just a backpacker.

  13. #13
    GA-ME 3/5/02 -8/14/02
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    Default Re: Trailnames

    Hey Sedentary Steve:

    We missed you at the bar in Duncannon by about 3 hours. We hiked for awhile with Mooch...he deserved that trail name

    Got mine my third day on the trail, and I don't know about tradtion, but I thought it was fun to let one "find" us. My husband got his after about 2 weeks. On the other hand, though, we hiked almost the entire trail with a guy with the self-appointed name of "SNAFU"; and there could not have been a better name to describe him To each his own. I don't recall ever asking anyone if they chose a name themsleves, or if it was "appointed."
    "It's a dangerous business, going out your door...if you don't keep your feet, there's no telling where you might be swept off to."-The Hobbit

  14. #14

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    Originally posted by Lone Wolf
    No problem Lugnut. I named myself 17 years ago.
    Woah! 17 years ago?!! I was in 6th grade then.

  15. #15
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    i think its fine for somone to give themselves a name when they start the trail, but i think part of the fun is to have on given to you durring the journey. my name was given to me this past summer due to my tendancy to be the first person up every morning. some people dont like to use their real names on the trail, so they have no other option than to appoint their own nickname, which is fine. i think its important for people to enjoy their hike, and if chosing their own name so that they dont recieve one they dont like is best for them than thats the way to go.
    "Do what you Love, Love what you do"

  16. #16

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    I'm not sure I understand why someone would be reluctant to use their real name on the trail. A whorehouse maybe, I might be reluctant to use my name. But I don't think I've ever really been shy about my name anywhere.

    Not to diss the romance and allure of a trailname. And I do think trail names are more about what other people see in you (sans any mean-spiritness. A thru-hike is too large and important an undertaking to have marred by someone else's insensitivity. Unless of course your a mooch. )

  17. #17
    Registered User Moose2001's Avatar
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    Default Trailnames

    You can't get stuck with a trailname if you don't want it. If you don't like, don't go by it and don't use it. In 2001, I hiked with Assface. People said how could he stand to use that name. Dave wore it like a badge of honor. He loved shocking the poor unsuspecting tourists. Funny part was.. his name really did fit him.
    GA - NJ 2001; GA - ME 2003; GA - ME 2005; GA - ME 2007; PCT 2006

    A wise man changes his mind, a fool never will.
    —SPANISH PROVERB

  18. #18

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    Hahahaha.

    Moose and Assface. Y'all couldn't help but hook up as hiking buds. Nice.

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    I have a trailname, but I only use it when on trail.

  20. #20
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    I'm gonna gamble and let the trail give me a name. Even if it's Uglyhiker or Wipes Ass With Leaves.

    BTW does anyone know if American Indian names were given like AT names? Brings to mind the movie Dances With Wolves where whats-his-name was given his "trail name" (prairie name?) after the Indians saw him doing a jig with a wolf.

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