Meet Cornelius Schwartz. Around here we call him Daddy, Andrew, or Sweetie, but he has also been known to answer to Droodles or Drew. Cornelius Schwartz was the trail name he chose while thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail just after college.
Trail names are an Appalachian Trail tradition. On the trail, you leave your old identity behind and reinvent yourself as whoever you want to be. Thru-hikers sometimes pick their own names or default to names chosen by their companions. Sometimes a name will just chose itself, as seems to have been the case with Possum Poop Patty.
Parents often say that they have a hard time getting their kids to go hiking without complaints. A trail name can be a great solution to making a hike seem more like an adventure and adding some fun. Giving them real life examples helps: Turtle, Superfeet, Mountain Laurel, Lightening Bolt, Digger, Mud Puppy, Water Strider, Longshanks. We’ve tried trail names with the kids but nothing has quite stuck yet: Pokey Puppy suits Mr. Big. I tried Avant Garde with Miss M since she always goes out ahead of us, but she didn’t seem to take to it.
Buck Young aka Mat (seen here with section-hiker Sven) was Cornelius’ trail companion, and they were joined for a time by Dan (below) .
Not sure whether Dan had a trail name, but these days he puts up with us calling him as Farmer Dan because you can now find him on the trails between rows of vegetables at his CSA Brookfield Farm in Amherst, Massachusetts. If you’re in the area, stop by, buy some produce, and tease him about his Loverboy do from the 80s.