What’s in a Name? (Or, Why I’m Not Taking a Trail Name)
Let me first say, trail names are awesome. They’re fun, easier to remember, and most of them come with a good story. They are great for most people, and I think they’re one of the most interesting traditions of the trail.
However, for me there also seems to be a deeper element to them. When we take a trail name, it’s almost as if we are taking a new identity. We are able to reinvent ourselves, become who we want to be on the trail, and all that is wrapped up in the trail name we’ve chosen. The problem with this is that we go back to “normal life” after the trail and then what? Is all that we’ve learned and all the ways we’ve grown on the trail gone as we assume our “real name” again? Probably not, but semantically and philosophically we can fool ourselves into dividing these two parts of our being, and believing them to be separate. With that comes an extra facet to the separation between “real life” and “trail life.”
My problem is that I don’t want to separate these two parts of me. This is not a break from my life, this is just a step that may irrevocably change my life in ways that I probably can’t even imagine at this point in the trail. I want to absorb the ways that the trail changes me and make them a part of my being moving forward. For me, that means keeping my name; keeping my history; keeping my past, present, and future; and keeping myself open to change.
As I experience the trail, these experiences will change me, Zoë, the real me, not a trail façade of myself. Perhaps this is just semantics, but for me, I choose to remain true to myself in the only way I know how. My name means life, and since this trail (along with everything that came before it and will come after it) is already a big part of my life, it only seems fitting.
This post is not meant to discourage anyone from taking a trail name. Like I said, I actually really like the tradition, but it’s just not for me this year.
Have a good story about a trail name? Let me know in the comments!
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