Side Note: Trail Names

It’s common practice when thru-hiking or potentially hiking of any kind to have a “Trail Name” you start to use as your primary name. Think of it as a code name or call name (ie. Goose, Maverick). It is strange at first to hear these types of names, as Peter Parker says in the Avengers “Oh we are using our made up names, I’m Spiderman”.  However, it really is a form of identification on the trail.  We registered at Baxter State Park under both our legal and trail names.  Many times when hikers are introducing themselves or even making reservations at hiker hostels it’s a trail name.

Most people start with their common name but then are given a trail name by fellow hikers they choose to use. Some trail names are for life but some will change every time a hiker starts a new hike. Maybe you are at a different phase of your life and feel your old one no longer suits you or maybe you are hiking the AT now and had a PCT trail name that no longer fits. The best part of thru-hiking is you can be you whoever you want and do whatever you want. We are all out in the woods with a common goal and a trail name is just another part of the experience.

Eric having thru-hiked the AT in 2011 was given the trail name Mountain Dew.  He got this name at the NOC where he was excited to drink the citrusy soda he craved for the days leading up.  However, to his dismay, the NOC only sold Mellow Yellow, which as not an appropriate subsite in his mind.  Eric ended up hitch-hiking 2 miles to the nearest gas station and returned with two one-liter bottles and was hence force known on trail as Mountain Dew.

Eric felt since this was a new experience many years later a new name was needed so now he is registered as Old Bay. This is name doesn’t have a crazy story like some names do, it is merely his penchant for using Old Bay seasoning on EVERYTHING in the woods (and even sometimes in the real world). Those pasta sides not tasting so good? Old Bay. Sick of chicken flavored Ramen? Old Bay. Bland cooked rice in a flour tortilla? Old Bay.  Instant potatoes not satisfying?  Old Bay! Even Hayley thinks there is some merit to this strategy.

Hayley’s trail name has a little more of a story, she is going by Shell Shock which is a reference to the movie, cartoon, video game of her childhood, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. On one of Hayley’s first section hikes on the AT in Massachusetts she was still getting her trail legs and it had rained the night before. She was crossing some raised wooden planks over some muddy marshes when she slipped off and tumbled to the ground, somehow getting her pack wedged between the plank and ground leaving her flipped upwards kicking her arms and legs trying to unwedge herself, looking a lot like a turtle flipped on it’s shell.

Shell Shock is used in Ninja Turtles whenever they get attacked by the bad guy and get injured (usually they have great sprawling falls in the old arcade game).  Hayley still continues to have some great falls often landing on her pack.


So here we go, Old Bay and Shell Shock SOBO 2022 AT Thru-Hikers!


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