Thursday, March 5, 2015

Trail Name Survey Results

Graphic from Appalachian Trials.
Check out an interesting article on the
frequency of trail names - here 
by Maggie Wallace
Back at the end of January, I posted a short five question survey asking about hiker's trail names on two or three different AT Hiker Facebook Groups.  I received 223 responses to the survey before it fell down on the feeds and out of people's view and notice.

With only 223 samples of a very large group, this survey isn't really scientifically viable, but it does paint an interesting picture of a cultural part of the trail.  

Of those 223 responses 77% said they had a trail name.

Total respondents 223
One of the questions I asked was how did you receive your trail name.  Most hikers have their trail name gifted to them by other hikers at 61%.  20% give it to themselves and 18% have it gifted by non-hikers.  You see a lot of mention in the hiking world that you need to have the name gifted to you and at almost 80% doing it that way, the survey supports this.  It still is OK to name yourself, but the practice tends to lean towards receiving the name by others.  The survey didn't ask this, but I think there are quite a few hikers who start out with a self given name and switch to a gifted one that comes along during their hike.  I have no real proof of this, it is just something I have seen on my travels.  Also, there is nothing wrong with doing it this way.  It's all good.  

Yes, I have a Trail Name
Of those who don't have trail names, most, (73%) are waiting for it to be gifted to them. Another 22% just haven't found the right one yet and are still waiting to find it.  

Those still seeking their Trail Name
There was one respondent who said they don't do trail names and also a couple who stated that they don't know what trail names are.  wtf?

The last question I asked was to share your story of how you got your name and many who participated in the survey wanted to see those stories posted.

Follow this link to see all the stories that were given.  The stories are the best part of a trail name and some of these are pretty interesting.

For me, Trail Names is a fun game I like to play out on the trail.  I carry a number of trail names (they are light and take up no space in my pack).  I change them out from time to time or pick up another one as things happen on the trail.  I also like suggesting names to others who walk the trail unnamed.  My trail name grows as I add up my miles.

For now, I go by EarthTone, but my whole trail name is El Jefe Maestro Obi wan, the Earth Toned Stiller Fan.  Each part of my name has special meaning to me and came to me in all the different ways I asked about on the survey.

Remember, a trail name becomes Yours when you answer to it and introduce yourself with it.

Thanks to all who participated in the survey.  I'm sure one day we will have an exhibit on Trail Names in the AT Museum and I hope this data will be a part of it.  

Keep on Hiking,

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