Our trail names were befitting of a weekend’s worth of epic hikes in the rugged/snowy/sloppy/buggy mountains of Colorado. I traveled there recently with good friends, intent upon gasping through a few miles under backpacks loaded with rain gear, snacks, and safety gear we thankfully didn’t need.
Trail names are normal for the dedicated souls who hike the 2,200-mile Appalachian Trail, the 2,650-mile Pacific Crest Trail, or the 3,100-mile Continental Divide. Hikers give each other nicknames after witnessing quirks or antics that make the bearer memorable — Hippie Chick, Switchback, Laughing Star, and the like.
It’s a romantic notion — assigning descriptors showcasing personality over lineage, enabling others to know you in a unique way. Trail names are serious stuff with thru-hikers, and great care is taken to choose them correctly.
We had two days of hiking time at our disposal, so our trail name aspirations were far less ambitious. Spontaneous and hilarious would do just fine.
The challenge was met with aplomb.
Our group included a woman who enjoyed a Popsicle before hefting her hiking poles.
“My poles are sticky,” she said as she started down the trail.
Her trail name immediately became “Sticky Pole,” and we laughed and laughed.
“Leg Lifter” got her name after high-stepping over a tree that had fallen across the trail. She made the feat look easy, though I firmly snagged the seat of my pants when I followed her lead.
“Kimmo” is a melding of the bearer’s given name and her spunky camouflage hiking shorts. Her shorts were purchased at Walmart, after a visit to the “GW Boutique”— a fancy name for Goodwill – proved unfruitful. Kimmo is both fashion savvy and a smart shopper.
A glitchy flashlight gave “Night Light” her name. The light sprang to life in the middle of the night, illuminating our hotel room with a cheerful glow. That it lit the path to the bathroom was a happy coincidence. Night Light always puts the needs of others before her own, so her trail name was a perfect fit.
And then there was mine, which happened when I zigged but should have zagged. My heel caught a rock and I landed squarely on my brains. I am now “Blue Butt,” though the only thing bruised was my ego.
So there we were — Sticky Pole, Leg Lifter, Kimmo, Night Light, and Blue Butt — hiking, stumbling, gasping, and laughing through those Colorado trails.
We mashed through thigh-deep snow on Devil’s Thumb Trail in the Indian Peaks Wilderness, and were turned back by raging water at Baker Pass in Rocky Mountain National Park. Nearby Onahu Trail provided drier treading, with the added bonus of clouds of mosquitoes and a reposing moose.
We briefly lost our way, encountering an exuberant stick-fetching dog in the process. The dog launched into a sparkling pond, retrieving his stick and happily depositing it at the feet of anyone he could coerce into tossing again.
We met massive draft horses waiting patiently to impress visitors at the YMCA of the Rockies Snow Mountain Ranch. We dined on spaghetti and French toast sticks in the facility’s cafeteria, too. We tie-dyed shirts and made survival bracelets in its craft shop. We elbowed our place in line with a bunch of preteens at the giant tubing hill.
It was a chance to be ridiculous and bold in an awe-inspiring setting. It was affordable respite from bills, jobs, and the demands of daily life. Friendships were cemented and memories made.
I will forever remember the words, “I have snow in my underpants.”
The trip inspired its own set of quirky trail names. Bunk Jumpers. Hall Buffaloes. Rock Tumblers. Burger Snarfers. Noodle Sloopers. Swamp runners.
But for now, I’ll leave you with a scene of Sticky Pole, Leg Lifter, Kimmo, Night Light, and Blue Butt, sitting on a bench with soggy socks and aching feet, grinning about Girl Hike 2019.