What’s in a Trail Name?
Trail names. If you’re on the trail you need one. If you don’t have one, you want one. But, what’s the big deal?
The big deal
Chances are we’re going to remember someone’s trail name better than their real name because trail names are…more entertaining. Trail names usually come with a story and, more often than not, result from something that happens to the hiker while on trail.
When we did our shakedown hike (more about that later), we met La Tripper (she said she trips over everything) and hiked for a few days with Dobie. Dobie was in a shelter with other hikers during a storm. He was reading a book and one of the hikers asked him to read aloud, so he obliged. In the book was a boat named the Dobie Swift. The hikers dubbed him Dobie Swift and, over the years, he dropped the Swift.
Other hikers we met were called Bald Eagle, The Captain, Tarzan, Chef Boyardee, Pica, Laundrymat, Go-Go, Generic Hiker, Wrecking Ball, Super Suit, Wylo, Obi-Wan, Root, Bird Man, Moose Boots, Keystone, Phoenix, Lo-Lo, Trapper Lee, and Trudge.
I can picture the face that goes with each trail name, but I guarantee that if I didn’t know trail names I wouldn’t recall much about the people. Trail names can be absurd or accurate—or absurdly accurate—and they’re always memorable.
How’d I get my trail name?
My trail name is Fortune Cookie. This name comes from the fact that I carry a fortune from a fortune cookie with me on the trail.
I mentioned before that I’ve been planning this hike since early 2021. Sometime in mid-2022, my husband and I were eating the fortune cookies from Chinese takeout. I opened mine and, well, my jaw dropped.
The fortune said, Depend on your feet, you can climb the highest mountain.
Right then I decided that little slip of paper would be joining me on all hikes—day hikes, the shakedown hike, the thru-hike. The first time we stepped on the AT, my husband said my trail name should be Fortune Cookie.
It’s now laminated in hopes it will make it 2,198.4 miles.
I tried it on, it fit, and I liked it.
How did my husband get his trail name?
As we were transported from our parking spot to the trailhead in Duncannon by a friend (and our personal trail angel), Paul, he and my husband talked sports. College, modern, and classic sports. If you know 1970s baseball, you know of Rollie Fingers, the pitcher with the handlebar mustache.
Our trail angel Paul (left) gave us a lift and gave Rollie his trail name.
In the parking lot, Paul took a selfie with us and said, “Good luck, Carol and Rollie!” We waved goodbye, crossed the railroad tracks and began our ascent on the trail.
I said, “Hey! I think you just got your trail name!”
He tried it on, it fit, and he liked it.
What name fits you?
I’ve heard stories of people who are given names that they don’t like, so they keep waiting for the right one. That’s okay! Others name themselves before they get on trail, and that’s okay too. Of course, you can always use the Trail Name Generator at the top of this page. I clicked it a few times and it came up with Green Tornado Princess, Soggy Butterfly Rhino, and—my favorite—Zealous Ramen.
If you’re hitting the trail and don’t have a trail name yet, don’t fret! It will come in time.
Do you have a trail name? How did you get it? Drop a comment below and tell me about it!
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