Trail names are part of long-distance hiking lore, yet there are inconsistencies in how they’re used. Some hikers will tell you a trail name must be bestowed on you by another hiker. Others have no interest in taking a trail name.
In truth, there are no rules about trail names, though there will always be people who try to say otherwise.
Still, trail names serve a useful purpose. They allow hikers to separate their “back home” identity from their trail identity. A trail name gives a hiker a persona in an easy-to-remember shorthand form.
|Date||Saturday, August 17, 2019|
|Weather||Mostly sunny with a high temperature in the low 70s|
|Trail Conditions||Smooth and easy, then an ascent that was sometimes rocky and steep |
There are a couple of people I’ve hiked with, however, for whom I sometimes fail to use their trail name. I knew them first by their real name and that name for them stuck in my head.
One of these is my longtime friend Ralph, who joined me twice on sections of the Appalachian Trail and for an extended time on the Pacific Crest Trail. He gained a trail name of Polecat while on the AT when he climbed a bear pole when food bags became tangled on it. I tend to use his trail name only when I’m around other hikers.
Dave is another hiker for whom I usually use his real name. His trail name is Wheelz, which was derived from his last name, Wheeler. To me, though, he has always been Dave because that’s the name he told me when we first met. Bluejay and Sunkist also call him Dave.
Today was the day we would finally reconnect with Dave. He has been an enjoyable person to hike with. He has a good sense of humor and has little tolerance for drama or nonsense, which are qualities I value.
Dave fit in well with our small group when we hiked together before and we were looking forward to hiking with him again.
I left our campsite on Lower Rosary Lake at the surprisingly early time of 6:15 a.m. The morning was clear and pleasant.
The plan for today was to hike an easy 4.5 miles to a side trail leading to Shelter Cove Resort, which was located on Odell Lake. We had resupply boxes waiting for us at the resort, but more importantly, we knew we could order a hot meal there.
The trail made a gradual descent, which sometimes offered views of the large lake.
As I neared Highway 58 at Willamette Pass, I met a northbound hiker. “Are you Gravity?” she asked.
This question seemed out of nowhere, but I soon understood why she asked. She told me her name was Mayhem and she was hiking with Falls.
Falls appeared a couple of minutes later. It was a nice reunion. He was the last of the Woohoo Crew I would meet on the trail and the only one still hiking northbound.
He told me stories about how he, Bookworm, and MJ left Kennedy Meadows with a few other hikers, including Mayhem, with intentions to hike through the snow-covered Sierra. Before long, MJ realized this section was more difficult and dangerous than she expected, and decided to leave the group so she wouldn’t become a burden to them.
The rest continued north, though they were often slowed by post-holing, treacherous water crossings, and other obstacles. Bookworm left the group after completing the Sierra so he could return home and then go back to school. Now it was just Falls and Mayhem to continue the hike north.
Soon after Falls, Mayhem, and I said goodbye and headed our separate directions, I arrived at a trail junction leading to Shelter Cove Resort. Instead of taking this route, I elected to continue another four-tenths of a mile to a dirt road.
This also led to the resort but would be an easier walk. It would also make the return hike back to the trail much easier.
I arrived at the resort shortly after 9 a.m. Sunkist and Bluejay had already retrieved their resupply boxes and had ordered breakfast.
They warned me that the kitchen was slow and that I should expect a long wait. Knowing this, I ordered a breakfast burrito first, then picked up my resupply box.
The resort provided some useful amenities for thru-hikers under two canopies, including a charging station, a hiker box, and a water spigot.
Dave arrived while I was eating my burrito. He was greeted warmly by the three of us.
It didn’t take long before the subject came up of our pending jump south from Ashland to hike the Sierra. Sunkist, Bluejay, and I were still planning to do that and we all wanted to know if Dave was on board to join us.
He was hesitant, so we began pressing harder, lobbying him to see our point of view.
I now realize this was unfair to him. He had just arrived and barely had time to get his bearings at the resort. He hadn’t been with us more than a few minutes already we were pushing for him to commit to staying with us.
As with any hiker, Dave had his own goals, his own agenda for his hike, and that included being responsive to the needs of his family at home. We shouldn’t have badgered him the way we did. Nevertheless, we did that because we liked him.
Once our phones and batteries were recharged and our new food packed away, we prepared to leave. Bluejay and Sunkist left first, while I waited a few more minutes for Dave to finish his meal and repack.
We left shortly after 2 p.m. and made it back to the PCT at 2:45.
From there, the trail entered Diamond Peak Wilderness, which covers 52,611 acres. The PCT would remain in the wilderness area for the next 14 miles.
I had neglected to look at the trail profile before leaving, so didn’t realize we would be making a big climb the rest of the way to our campsite. For the next seven miles, we climbed 2,100 feet. While that wasn’t especially steep, it was made more difficult by five days of food in my pack.
The trail passed a few small ponds as it climbed a ridgeline. One was a little marshy, but we were able to access it well enough to filter and refill our water bottles.
The ridge we were climbing led to Diamond Peak, which soon came into view at various gaps in the trees. The trail didn’t go all the way to the mountain, however. Instead, it flattened at around 7,000 feet in elevation and continued on the mountain’s flank.
Soon after passing a marker identifying a point on the trail that was 1,900 miles from the PCT’s southern terminus, we reached our campsite. This campsite wasn’t identified on the Guthooks trail app, but it was a good one for our needs, with water nearby and some reasonably-flat spots for tents.
The time was 7 p.m. Though I hadn’t walked far today, the day felt like I had.
You say you'll change a constitution
Well you know
We all want to change your head
You tell me it's the institution
Well you know
You better free your mind instead
But if you go carrying pictures of Chairman Mao
From “Revolution” by John Lennon and Paul McCartney (The Beatles)
You ain't gonna make it with anyone anyhow
Don't you know it's going to be all right
All right, all right