It’s common when walking by or likely to have a “track name” that you start using as your primary name. Think of it as a symbolic name or a summoning name (such as Goose, Maverick). It’s strange at first to hear these kinds of names, as Peter Parker says in Avengers “Oh, we use our made-up names, I’m Spiderman.” However, it is really a form of identification on the road. We are registered with Baxter State Park under both our legal and our own names. Often when hikers introduce themselves or even make a reservation at a hiker’s hostel, this is the name of a trail.
Most people start with their common name but are then given a name for the trail by fellow hikers who choose to use them. Some trail names are for life but some change each time the park embarks on a new journey. Maybe you are at a different stage in your life and feel the old one doesn’t fit you anymore or maybe you are hiking in AT now and have a PCT track name that no longer works for you. The best part of hiking is that you can be who you want to be and do whatever you want. We are all in the woods with a common goal and the path name is just another part of the experience.
After Eric toured AT in 2011, he got the track name Mountain Dew. He got this name in NOC as he was a zealous drinker of acid soda which he craved in the earlier days. However, to his dismay, NOC only sold Mellow Yellow, which was not a suitable sub-location in his mind. Eric ended up hiking two miles to the nearest gas station and came back with two one-liter bottles, hence the force on the track was known as Mountain Dew.
Eric felt since this was a new experience after so many years, a new name was needed, so it was now registered as Old Bay. This name doesn’t have a crazy story like some of the names do, it’s just his fondness for using Old Bay seasoning on everything in the woods (and sometimes even in the real world). Those sides of pasta don’t taste well? Old Bay. Tired of chicken flavored ramen? Old Bay. Nice cooked rice in a tortilla? Old Bay. Unsatisfactory instant potatoes? Old Bay! Even Hayley thinks there are some advantages to this strategy.
Hayley’s track name has a little more story in it, she goes through Shell Shock which refers to the film, animation and video game of her childhood, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. On one of Hayley’s first outings in the AT department in Massachusetts, she was still getting her legs up, and it had rained the night before. She was crossing some planks high over some muddy swamp when she slipped and fell to the ground, causing her bag to roll between the plank and the ground causing her to flip up as she kicked her arms and legs trying to unwind herself. The turtle flipped onto its shell. The Shell Shock is used in Ninja Turtles whenever they are attacked by the bad guy and injured (they usually have big, sprawling waterfalls in the old arcade game). Hailey still has some major falls that often land on her bag.
So here we go, Old Bay and Shell Shock SOBO 2022 AT Thru-Hikers!
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