We probably should have written this post 1000 miles ago, but better late than never, I suppose. Trail names are one of the most beloved traditions on long trails. Basically, every hiker receives a nickname early on in the hike. The names can be based on almost anything: a funny quirk about the person, something unique that they carry, a hiking style, a fashion style, something they eat, a funny event that happend to them, a physical attribute, a resemblance to a famous person or character, etc.
There are a few rules when it comes to receiving a trail name. Traditionally, the name must be bestowed upon you; you can not give yourself a name (although there are a few exceptions). You can reject some of the suggested names if they are unreasonable. A trail name is generally not considered official until you sign a trail register with it. And you shouldn’t try to change your name after a few hundred miles of going by that name. Some people never take a trail name for whatever reason, but it is all up to the person. As they say on the trail: hike your own hike.
Here is a short (but far from exhaustive) list of folks we have hiked with: Cuddles, Fun Size, Fuller, Uni-Croc and Scat Tracker, Peter Pan, Blur, Goodall, #2, Mr. Green, Manchurian, Hoop Dreams, Dish Cloth, Senor Verde, Shedder and Roo, Robin Hood, Shotput, Mudd and Dingo, Drop Bizkit, Acid Glasses, Nightcrawler, Toots McGoots and Tears for Beers, Pepper Flake, Wagon Wheel, Noah the Prophet, Hermes and Lotus, Grumpy, Stumbling Beef, Leaky, Sagi, Moonshine, Wakka Wakka and Giddy-Up, 2 Bad Dogs, Can Can and Square Peg, One Pint, K-Pax, Red Bearfield, Horny Toad, Sexy Legs, Bird-Dog, The Chosen One, Johnny Reb, Shorts, Whispers, Rhymenocerous, and many many more that I can’t think of right now.
I received my trail name back at the Paradise Valley Cafe, around mile 150. It was bestowed upon me by Fun Size. The full name is Frosty the Salt Man. It was inspired by the amount of salt that is left on my shirt after my sweat evaporates (which is a lot). It looks like I’m frosted over with salt. Fun Size began singing “Frosty the salt man…” And that’s how I got my name.
Ashe’s name came 550 miles later, at Kennedy Meadows. She had received many poor suggestions, which were roundly rejected by all, but she was determined to pick one up before leaving Kennedy Meadows. One afternoon, as we chatted with friends about our experiences in Southern California, Cuddles suggested the name Goldilocks, due to the fact that she had seen three bears in the desert, which is very rare for a hiker. It quickly evolved with a few iterations, including Glocks and G-Lox. And, just as our Seattle buddies often call us Mashleigh as a couple, we’ve come to be known as Frostylocks by some friends on the trail.
Trail names are a fun tradition, but they can also be really odd at times. You can hike with someone every day for hundreds of miles and suddenly realize that you don’t even know their real name! Many of the friends we’ve made this summer don’t know us as Mark and Ashleigh. Instead, in their memories, we will forever be Frosty and Goldilocks.