Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Bonus PCT Story: Trail Names

When people meet on the trail, the first thing we do is exchange names and often telling little stories about how a trail name was earned serves as a way to get to know someone. I'd been given the trail name 'Hemlock' years ago by my Trail Dame friends. But when I got to the PCT on my first day, I introduced myself as 'Joan' instead. It occurred to me that I might take a new name to symbolize a fresh start.

So Pathfinder gave me a new trail name to consider on our second day. I thought I'd tell you the story even though I've decided to keep my old trail name...

Before I headed out on the PCT, I sent my gear list to several people to get suggestions about how to reduce my pack weight. My friend JJ suggested that I not bring a bra to save weight. This is a great suggestion, and while I'm more comfortable in a bra, it got me thinking -- maybe if I came up with other uses for the bra-- made it a "multi-purpose" piece of gear- then the weight of the bra could be better justified.

So on our southwest tour, I already told you about how I started using the bra strap to rig my umbrella hands free during breaks when I'm not wearing my pack. I still do this on the PCT during siesta (though one time a hiker I just met came up and talked to me and I completely forgot I was using my bra to rig my umbrella- how awkward).  I always laugh about it with Pathfinder and Susan though- my first trick with my bra.

Then I came up with another trick. It was really hot at Lake Morena. Normally I cool off in the heat by taking off my shirt or hat and soaking it in water and putting it back on dripping wet- instant air conditioning. I call this the "shirt-trick" or "hat trick" and it always gets strange looks but believe me it works wonders. Anyway, for the PCT, I have tried to keep my pack light by not bringing extra clothes, so I don't have my usual tee shirt that works best for this or my trusty but heavier cotton hat that soaks up water. So instead I soaked my bra and put it back on, and it cooled me down like instant air conditioning. When I emerged from the Lake Morena bathroom, I happily exclaimed, "bra trick #2!" And Pathfinder said that would make a great trail name for me, especially if I shortened it to B-Trick. Haha! It would be a unique! Plus it shows my love for multi- use items- a bra as air conditioning unit and umbrella holder.
Well I do like the new name, and considered it for a while. But in thinking it over, I realized how much I really did like my old name of Hemlock. This old name also takes me back to that moment the name was given to me by one of the Trail Dames- because I was just so very enthusiastic when talking about hemlock trees. The name is special to me because its part of my identity with Trail Dames- the women's hiking club that has meant so much to me and helped me get here to the PCT. And I find this connection very meaningful.

The day that I finally started introducing myself on the PCT as Hemlock, something else happened that solidified it for me. When I met Farwalker for the first time, she recognized me and said "I know you Hemlock!" I didn't know her, but she'd been reading my blog and thought she might run into me. How cool is that!?!? This helped me realize that I'm not really starting fresh out here. That this is a continuation of my journey, and that I want to use my same name to help me remember how I got here.

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