Almost every thru-hiker ends up with a trail name. Trail names are little nicknames, normally based on something unique about each hiker. Do something stupid and you’ll find it quickly becomes your trail name. Some hikers start with a name, given to them by friends or family. Some hikers pick one up almost instantly. It took me two hundred miles to get mine, but it was worth waiting for. I’ve kept my trail name for all of my thru-hikes, and it’s become as much a part of me as my real name.
After two weeks on the Pacific Crest Trail, my trail family decided to take a zero at Whitewater Preserve in Southern California. Whitewater is a green oasis in an expanse of brown, scraggly desert. There’s a small stream, green fields, and picnic tables. Leafy trees shade perfect camp spots. It seemed like the ideal place to spend a rest day. All we had to do was check in with the rangers when we arrived.
There were two women behind the desk at the ranger station, dressed in khaki, smiling broadly. They told us it was fine to camp, although we’d have to leave our food in the bathroom since they had a slight racoon problem. But never mind that, they’d just had a big meeting and there was loads of food left over. Did we want some?
No self respecting thru-hiker will ever turn down free food. They took us to a back room, and showed us a table heaped with cliff bars and candy. We grabbed handfuls, and took them outside to pour over our haul in the sun. I had a few cliff bars and a bag of fun size Twix. Shake ‘n Bake watched me hold up the bag of Twix.
“Fun Size is the best size,” he told me. “Hey! I’m Fun Size.” I stupidly stated.
Anytime you say you’re anything on the trail, you risk it becoming your trail name. Shake ‘n Bake pointed a finger at me gleefully. “Trail name!” He yelled, and refused to call me anything else. By the end of the day, Fun Size was the only name anyone called me.
I’ve hiked a lot of miles since that day. I’ve done a lot of stupid things that easily could have become a new trail name. But Fun Size is special. It reminds me of trail magic, good times with my trail family, and flirting with a tall, cute thru-hiker who gave me my name.