What’s in a (trail) name??

Apparently, it is part of the “hiking culture” to have a trail name. It is a nickname that is bequeathed to you by your hiking comrades, usually after you pull some stunt or tell a story that should never have left your lips (in fact, there is a guy here who is named Lips)! When we signed up at Baxter State Park in Maine, the park ranger asked what our trail names were, so we told her what WE had already come up with…KatBird for me and Trail for James. This is NOT what you’re supposed to do but…rIgbt or wrong, it’s what we did.

KatBird is what my Dad has called me since I was a little girl (actually everyone in our family is “a bird,” – my Mom is GigiBird, my daughter is EBird and my son is JayBird). I’ve had plenty of other nicknames but this one has stuck.

James, on the other hand, dedicated his trail name to my biological mother, who passed away recently.  Her last name was Trail, so it was simply perfect and very sweet, if I do say so myself!

Since we began the “100 mile wilderness,” we have met no less than 25 other thru-hikers, and I’m using this post as an excuse to ask their stories, because…quite frankly, they range from divinely inspired to….hilarious. You be the judge:

Calvin & Hobbs from Chicago, are a man and his 3 year old pit bull,  who are hiking the trail together, and dog is carrying his own pack and food!

FastBreak from WV, tends to breakdown his campsite in mere minutes, starts hiking at daybreak (which is about 4-5am) and also zooms ahead to get camp set up ahead of his hiking buds.

Switchback from GA, is your outdoor superstar. He motivated a bunch of campers on a long hike in Texas by yelling “switchback!!!” every time they came upon one (which is an “annoying, pointless” trail zigzag, or horseshoe curve)!

Nine from Ohio, is missing a finger and has a good sense of humor about it.

We also met Laughing Star, Moose, Ole Man, Hippie Chick, Wild Child, Scout, Rolling Thunder, Poet, Shaman, Ishba, Preacher, Stretch, AJ, Toad, Birdie

What would be YOUR trail name?? ?


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Comments 8

  • Cynthia kelly : Jun 17th


  • Carnac Jack : Jun 17th

    My daughter’s is Nutmeg (born in CT), and her boyfriend’s is Earp (first name is Wyatt and he’s seen Tombstone something like 40 times). My callsign when I was a Navy pilot was Carnac, but my kids have dubbed me Watash, a military nickname that dates back to the Korean War meaning Number One Friend or Best Friend.

    • KatBird & Trail : Jun 17th

      Those are cool names! Thanks for sharing…..

      • Carnac Jack : Jun 18th

        You’re welcome. Best of luck on the Trail. Looking forward to reading more of your journal.

  • Marcia Powers : Jun 18th

    GottaWalk because after the JMT I had to hike the PCT, then the CDT, then the AT, then the ADT, AZT, GET, ICT, then…
    Actually, I signed my journals GottaWalk then hikers called me by that name.

    Trail is such a cool, respectful name…well done. And I like all the birt names. I wish our family had thought of a tradition and connection like that.

    Have a great hike with many adventures!

  • Peter Lornie : Jun 19th

    My wife got named Galaxy 7 as she would try and use it all the time on the AT !
    I got One Match Pete for my fire lighting skills normally yes using just one match !

  • LongShanks : Jun 20th

    Longshanks when alone, with my hiking partner we’re Sneaky Dick & the Tickle Monster. Comes in handy you should see the shelters empty out when we arrive and tell them our names.


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