Trail names are a tradition of long-distance hiking. They give you a chance to adopt a persona that is removed from your non-hiking world's everyday identity.
Part of this tradition is to have your trail name given to you by others, but this is not a hard rule that all must follow.
I like tradition as much as the next person. Still, I needed to take a more practical approach to my name.
I didn't want a name pinned on me that I didn't like. The real reason, though, was I intended to build this website and create other social media around it. Using a trail name would make the site's name and social media handles more personal.
So I decided to skip tradition and pick my own.
Some of the inspiration for my trail name comes from my professional work as a web developer. Freelance work I've done has come under the name Starting Gravity. That name was taken from a term used in beer-making. Specific gravity is measured before fermentation begins. After fermentation is complete, a second measurement is taken. With the two readings, it is possible to calculate the alcohol content of the beer.
I am a home brewer, so the name Gravity seemed like an easy choice for me. Still, I had some reluctance at first to use it.
My reluctance toward it changed on a frosty December morning in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. As I was walking along a trail, I failed to see a large sheet of ice. I slipped on it and fell flat on my face.
After picking myself up and continuing a short distance, I met another hiker walking in the same direction. We chatted awhile about hiking. I told him I hoped to thru-hike the Appalachian Trail and was thinking of adopting "Gravity" as my trail name. I said I wasn't sure if it was good fit.
I explained that my fall just before we met wasn't the first occurrence for me. Falling down on the trail was something I did with some regularity. I couldn't explain why, other than I just seemed to be gravity-challenged.
Less than five minutes later in our walk, we came to a stream crossing. As I attempted to rock hop across, I slipped and made a spectacular back-flip into the water. I was unhurt, but getting soaked in near-freezing temperatures was not the best way to start a backpacking trip.
Nevertheless, the other hiker agreed there were clear indications here that Gravity was a trail name well-suited for me.
Slow it down, big city
There's a fat cat there sitting pretty
Watch me break out in a cold sweat
Jump back in, you ain't seen nothing yet
You shake it up, you dance too fast
Make it real, make it last
If every man can dream then he can defy
G R A V I T Y, gravity, the big G
Gravity, G R A V I T Y, say it
Gravity, gotten a hold on me