Pacific Crest Trail

Trinity Alps Wilderness and split personality disorder

Day 86

Have you ever heard the expression “a rolling stone doesn’t gather trail names”? Probably not because I think I just made that up. Nonetheless I think it makes sense. But before we get to that, let me just ensure that I have properly explained what a trail name is. In essence it is the name you are known by when you are hiking or interacting with other hikers. Hiker law states “We the hikers all kind of agree that your hiker name is something though shall be giveth by another hiker and not giveth thyself. Otherwise though shall be disenfranchised.” Just kidding, but aside from being ostracized, it is mostly true. I don’t know exactly how trail names has come to prominence, but a nice thing about them is that there often is a funny story that goes along with them. For instance a woman I briefly met got the name “Fire Arms” as she unintentionally set her sleeves on fire (she didn’t get seriously hurt, fortunately). There was also a guy (according to Scout and Frodo) who didn’t like physical contact so he named himself (and thus broke hiker law) “Poop Hands”. Other people get a trail name but it never really catches on.

By the halfway point I still hadn’t caught a trail name, and other hikers were finding this increasingly odd. I think I hadn’t gotten one because I never stuck for long time in a group and hence the proverb. I do like camping and interacting with other hikers, but I also enjoy the freedom that comes along with doing the hiking part by myself. I decide when I get up, when I want a break, how fast and how long I want to hike.

Occasionally, people had been mishearing my name as “mass” or “mess”, but I wouldn’t call those corruptions for trail names. Near the beginning I got tired of having to explain how to pronounce my name which despite being one syllable is surprisingly difficult to pronounce for native English speakers. I therefore started just calling myself for “Matt”, which would be the closest English name, but that got confusing as some people then knew me by one name and others by another. Complicating things was the fact that there was a guy actually called Matt in the group I was in at the time. So I dropped that idea, which I should have known wouldn’t work from the beginning. I went back to Mads, and explained it as “Mads as in ChristMAS”, which kind of worked. I therefore thought that my trail name eventually would be Christmas, or potentially I would never get a trail name.

A couple of days ago when I first met Eon, he overheard a discussion between another hiker and me about trail names and suggested that I could have his old one “Silver”, which he said carried a too long a story to explain how he came by it. A recycled trail name? Well it is better than nothing and I can even call it up cycling if I polish it off a bit (do you know that trick with tin foil to get the dirt off?). I like that I don’t know the original story by this orphaned name. I would tell this story, but could also make up others (like the Joker from the movie “The Dark Knight”, who always tells different stories about how he got the scars around his mouth). I could say it was because of the somewhat premature graying of my hair or because of the slip I had at Silver Pass where I banged up my legs. (I would of course also tell the true story afterwards).

I still find trail names somewhat weird. I feel like I am the same person when I hike as when I am not. I don’t have split personality disorder. Also, I don’t need to hide my identity as if I were an adult film actor. I am probably overthinking it and trail names are kind of funny.

Anyways, I allowed myself to sleep in a bit and was late in getting out of bed, but it still surprised me that I was the last one to leave camp at 6:30.

The day started with some decent views though nothing was truly extraordinary. It was also a bit hazy right from the beginning of the day. Near a water source I saw what I later learned was called pitcher plants, which are carnivorous plants living of insects. I remember one of my brothers and me being fascinated by meat eating plants when we were young and now I had seen some in the wild. For Americans it would probably be nothing special, but we don’t have such in Denmark.

I found some nice places along the trail for my two lunch breaks. It then got quite warm around noon aggravated by an uphill section without shade, but briefly after that the trail went by a creek where previous hikers had built a small dam so you could bathe in a pool, which was really nice. After that there was only six miles left but they took a bit longer than expected as I was getting quite tired.

Getting back to the bruise from Silver Pass, it was starting to look nice again and I was careful to not get any twigs hitting it, but near the end of the day my one trekking pole got caught between two rocks and I smashed the bad part against it breaking the skin once again. I decided to cut off the dead skin and covered it with some gaze for the night. I told you and myself that it would take some time to heal originally. That was thirty days ago.

I eventually got to the camp site and saw Eon as well as a hiker I hadn’t met before and two hikers, Fish and Sonic, hiking as a couple that I had met some days ago. Starting to get to know the hikers around you is nice.

This days miles: 1544-1572

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