What's a flip flop?
A “flip flop” hike is a hike that begins in the middle of an end-to-end trail, going in one direction, and ending in the other. Typically, long distance hikes are undertaken from one terminus to the other. The reasons people undertake these hikes usually has to do with weather or timing.
For example, on the Appalachian Trail, flip-floppers would start in Virginia and typically go North. The advantage is that the flip-floppers would build up stamina (“trail legs”) during the relatively flat middle portion of the trail. By the time they reached the more challenging New England section, they would be in trail shape.
Though I would have preferred a straight end-to-end hike of the PCT, I will be flip flopping the trail because of scheduling concerns. The traditional start period of the trail is late-April to early May. Because of my trip to Kilimanjaro and my graduation, I won’t be able to start until early June. As a result, I will be flip flopping,
beginning about 400-500 miles into the PCT.
What's a trail name? (i.e., why do you sign off with 'Steiner', 'Barrel Roll', 'Moose Charmer', and '[insert Emily's trail name here]'?
According to wikipedia, a trail name is a 'psuedonym'. Trail names are psuedonyms, but a particular kind of pseudonym. They usually refer to an important or memorable experience on a custom on long distance hikes, such as the AT or PCT. Hikers will introduce themselves, and refer to each other by their trail names. The custom is so ingrained that on the AT, hikers will sign registers (e.g., notebooks) with their trail names, instead of their given names.
There isn't always a lot of agreement on trail names. Here are some of my general rules on trail names. My rules are by no means universal.
- Trail names are used on the trail, always preferred to real names
- Trail names cannot be chosen by the hiker, they must be given. However they can be rejected if deemed unsuitable
- Trail names can be rejected
Earning a trail name is one of the rites of passage of long distance hiking. We all wear ours with pride, ridiculous as they are.
What are some other trail names?
One of our best friends from the AT, Bouie, had the nickname from his mom. Frogger was incredible at river crossings. Sock lost a sock while rinsing in river one day. It wasn't a memorable experience, but I think the hiker community had decided that he had gone too long without a name, and it was high time he had one.
One of my favorite trail names from the '05 AT Northbounders is "Celine Dion Sanders". I still don't know the story behind it. If anyone knows, feel free to post.
I have no idea what Emily's trail name will be yet. She may have an inkling. I certainly have some ideas, but she does have veto power. We will keep you posted.