How Hikers Get Their Trail Names

If you’re a part of the hiking community, then you have probably noticed that many hikers no longer go by their real-life name when they’re on the trail. Instead, they are referred to by a trail name.

A trail name is a nickname that a hiker uses to express a personality. Many people will dub themselves, but some may wait for a friend to point out a quality that makes for a good nickname.

That being said… trail names may be one of the only times it’s okay to choose your own nickname.

If you read some of the PCT and Appalachian 2,600 Miler Club logs, you’ll come across various names. Some, better than others.

There are too many to post here, in this article, but PCTA ORG has the full list for you to peruse.

2,600 Miler Club

The 2,600 Miler Club is led by the organization that covers everything PCT (Pacific Crest Trail). It is here that you’ll find the log books (which are now online) of all of the hikers who have fully completed the trail.

The Pacific Crest Trail spans from the US/Mexico border to the US/Canada border and is a top to-do on my life bucket list. People spend years preparing for it as they have to be physically, financially and most of all, mentally prepared to complete this grueling adventure.

To achieve full credit for most 2,000+ mile thru-hikes you have to complete it within twelve months. It’s okay to do it section by section, as long as it’s completed within that timeframe.

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Plenty Of Time To Think

You’re going to have a long while to think about it if you can’t come up with anything, just yet. Just look at the list of cities you’ll hike through if you follow the PCT:

This isn’t the longest of the hikes, either.


  • Campo (mile 1.4)
  • Lake Morena (mile 20)
  • Mount Laguna (mile 41.5)
  • Julian (mile 77.3)
  • Banner (mile 77.3)
  • Stagecoach Trail RV Park (mile 77.3)
  • Ranchita (mile 101.2)
  • Warner Springs (mile 109.5)
  • Holcomb Village (mile 111.3)
  • Anza (mile 151.9)
  • Paradise Valley Café (mile 151.9)
  • Hemet Lake Market (mile 168.6)
  • Idyllwild (mile 179.4) – depends on side trail
  • Cabazon (mile 209.5)
  • Banning (mile 209.5)
  • Big Bear Lake/Big Bear City (mile 266.1)
  • Fawnskin (mile 227.6)
  • Cajon Junction (mile 342)
  • Wrightwood (mile 369.4)
  • Crystal Lake Cafe and Store (mile 383.5)
  • Acton KOA (mile 444.3)
  • Acton (mile 444.3)
  • Agua Dulce (mile 454.5)
  • Green Valley (mile 478.2)
  • Lake Hughes (mile 485.7)
  • Hikertown/Neenach/Wee Vill (mile 517.6)
  • Mojave (mile 566.4)
  • Tehachapi (mile 566.4)
  • Lake Isabella (mile 652)
  • Inyokern (mile 652)
  • Ridgecrest (mile 652)
  • Kennedy Meadows South (mile 702.2)
  • Lone Pine (mile 744.5) – depends on side trail
  • Independence (mile 789.1)
  • Bishop (mile 789.1) – depends on side trail
  • Muir Trail Ranch (mile 857.7)
  • Vermilion Valley Resort (mile 874.5)
  • Red’s Meadow (mile 906.6)
  • Mammoth Lakes (mile 906.6) – depends on side trail
  • Tuolumne Meadows (mile 942.5)
  • Bridgeport (mile 1016.9)
  • Kennedy Meadows North (mile 1016.9)
  • Markleeville (mile 1048.4)
  • Kirkwood (mile 1076.5)
  • Meyers and South Lake Tahoe (mile 1090.8)
  • Echo Lake (mile 1092.3)
  • Olympic Village (mile 1135.5)
  • Donner Ski Ranch (mile 1153.4)
  • Soda Springs (mile 1153.4)
  • Truckee (mile 1153.4)
  • Sierra City (mile 1195.4)
  • Graeagle via Gold Lake (mile 1211.6)
  • La Porte (mile 1234.8)
  • Bucks Lake and Lake Shore Resort/Haskens Store (mile 1263.5)
  • Quincy (mile 1267.9)
  • Belden and Caribou Crossroads (mile 1286.8)
  • Chester (mile 1331.1)
  • Drakesbad Guest Ranch (mile 1350.1)
  • Old Station (mile 1373.5)
  • Burney (mile 1411.3)
  • Fall River Mills (mile 1411.3)
  • Burney Falls State Park (mile 1419)
  • Castella (mile 1501.1)
  • Dunsmuir (mile 1501.1)
  • Mt Shasta (mile 1501.1)
  • Callahan (mile 1560.2)
  • Etna (mile 1599.7)
  • Seiad Valley (mile 1655.9)


  • Callahan’s Lodge (mile 1718.7)
  • Ashland (mile 1718.7)
  • Hyatt Lake Resort (mile 1742.7)
  • Fish Lake Resort (mile 1773.4)
  • Mazama Village at Crater Lake (mile 1821.7)
  • Shelter Cove Resort (mile 1906.6)
  • Elk Lake Resort (mile 1952.6)
  • Sisters (mile 1983.8)
  • Bend (mile 1983.8)
  • Big Lake Youth Camp (mile 1995.1)
  • Olallie Lake Resort (mile 2045.6)
  • Government Camp (mile 2086.5)
  • Timberline Lodge (mile 2097)
  • Cascade Locks (mile 2146.7)


  • Stevenson (mile 2147.2)
  • Trout Lake (mile 2228.9)
  • White Pass (mile 2294.9)
  • Snoqualmie Pass (mile 2393.1)
  • Steven’s Pass Resort (mile 2464.1)
  • Skykomish (mile 2464.1)
  • Stehekin (mile 2571.9)
  • Mazama (mile 2591.1)


  • Manning Park Resort (mile 2650+)
From Start To Finish

The Hard Part

Even though you’ve got a long time to hike…

Most trail names are chosen on the first day of your thru-hike. This way, you can introduce yourself to the other hikers you come across on your trek.

What Do You Want To Be Known For

So, start up the self-assessment and come up with that perfect name!

Thanks for reading, hiker!

This post was written by Evan.
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The Seasoned Thru-Hiker; A Guide On Preparing For Destination Hiking

Training for a thru-hike, especially one rated “difficult”, is something that every hiker should do before taking the long journey to that end game. These are some tips to get you started:

Find Your Training Spot Close To Home

This is one I struggle with myself, because where I’m from, there isn’t much elevation to work with. I typically travel to destination hikes to get the real adventure going, but not all is lost if you live in the prairie-lands, like me.

One of the most important aspects to training, is having a training spot that is close to home. I found a Nature Park near my house and began to utilize that area as my “thru-hike” spot. Sure, there were lots of people there with their kids or churches and schools bussing group visits around (because this park was in the heart of the city), and they probably were wondering, “why in the world is that guy wearing a full climb get-up in this 3 mile stretch?”. I like to think they understand that I’m simply out there to train and I’m not as crazy as I look!

So, I walk the paths, and because each path is only 2 or 3 miles long, I walk them several times. This helps the legs stretch and get used to a cadence that will keep your momentum moving when you’re on a thru-hike that takes months to complete. You essentially change your walking/hiking stride. To cover lots of terrain you want a good stride, and you want to be able to work with that stride, even while wearing your full pack.

Should I Train On Other Things Besides Just Hiking?

Absolutely. I mountain bike regularly. In fact, I was mountain biking every day for quite some time. This helped shape me up, grow the muscles in the legs and really help with my core balance, strength and posture.

Recently, I’ve started adding the gym into the mix. I felt like the cardio from the bike alone was beginning to plateau and I needed to stir things up a bit. Now, I’m just as addicted to the gym, as I am to biking, hiking, backpacking, and writing!

There’s really no way to go wrong with training, as long as you’re training. So, don’t feel like you’re not owning up to some sort of expectations just because other people seem to know what they’re doing. The truth is, no one truly knows what we’re doing. As science and medicine and mathematics, etc, continue to evolve, and as humans continue to learn, we will continuously shape our ideas on what’s right.

What About Acclimation

Thru-hiking will take you on a serious journey. You’ll come across some of the lowest zones, and then find yourself on some of the highest elevation gains, all on the same trail as it spans across it’s 2,100 miles (or more!). Thinking about acclimation is definitely something to take into consideration.

The unfortunate fact of the matter is, for some thru-hikers it can take a month to fully acclimate. If that’s the case, then they’d already find themselves a third of the way into their thru-hike and guess what?… the terrain has shifted, no longer requiring the acclimation.

When it comes to acclimation there’s not much of a way to truly get used to the elevation gains unless you are nearby and can constantly train there. Another way would be to rent a place in the area for some time and live there for a bit, but that’s really taking a stretch just to go on a destination hike.

So, get out there, and have fun with it! Listen to your body, rest when needed, eat when you’re hungry. Thru-hiking doesn’t require someone to go on a full on keto (survival mode) diet. It only requires the person to be able to carry themselves well.

My best advice is that if you’re like me, and live somewhere that has very little elevation gain, you take it slow at first when you arrive to your thru-hike. The first time I experienced very high elevation gains was when I backpacked the Rocky Mountains. I could feel the air thinning out with every step up after a certain height. It made me feel lightheaded, almost dizzy at times, and exhausted. I wasn’t acclimated and wouldn’t have had the time to acclimate anyhow as I was only there for 6 days.

Something super important to note, is at times like the above paragraph, you need to understand what your body is trying to tell you. Do not push through a dangerous attempt when your body is literally trying to shut down on you. Stop, rest, sleep if you need, eat your snacks, hydrate and then go ahead and cancel the climb for now. The mountain will most likely still be there to try again later, when you’re not at risk of serious injury or illness.

Rangers are usually available to help someone off the mountains when needed. Know your emergency numbers at each location you trek.

Carrying That Backpack

One of the best (and worst) parts about backpacking is getting used to carrying that pack. I say it’s the best because once you’re familiar with your setup you will be prepared for anything. Did it just start raining out of nowhere? No problem, my rain jacket is easily accessible from the front stretch pocket. Do I want to setup camp but don’t feel like digging through all of my stuff right now? I can just pull my sleeping bag from the bottom stowaway pouch. Did I just get a bee sting? No worries, my safety kits are in the top zip-pouch.

Knowing your pack out like the back of your hand is going to help your hikes feel successful and second nature. To get used to carrying it everywhere, just take it training with you. Practice using the different slots and pouches available to see what works for you. And remember to add more miles each week. By the time you make it to your destination hike, you won’t even notice the weight of your pack.

Add Miles Weekly

Like I’ve mentioned above, this is how you’ll get used to the weight you carry, adjust your hiking stride, and prepare your lungs for efficient oxygen intake. You want to push your limits on this exercise.

For the first week, walk as much as you can until you’re noticing you really need a break. Then stop. Record how far you’ve made it and rest until the next week (you should get to the point where you’re hike-training three days a week, but when you first start it’s okay to feel like one day a week is plenty).

When the following week comes around, hit your recorded marker, then add a mile. Then record, and head back home again.

Continue this rinse and repeat until you’re hiking 10 miles a day without problem. Many thru-hikers hike around 16 miles a day. If you train at 10 that’s a great starting point for beginners. If you’re able to get it to 16 before your trip, even better!

Understand Provisions

Something we don’t want to skip: food!

You need to know what provisions you have and you need to understand how to ration them based on how much area you still have left to cover before a restock.

You’re going to feel hungry on a thru-hike. Let me reiterate, You’re going to always feel hungry on a thru-hike. It’s the nature of the beast when it comes to long distance hiking. Remember, thru-hiking requires you to burn an exceptional amount of calories every day while you’re on the trail.

A great way to prepare yourself and train for this, is to understand your body and to learn how to eat for fuel instead of pleasure or out of boredom. Eat healthy, provide the nutrients your body needs, and eat small portions five times six times a day. This will make sure your body is intaking the proper nutrients it needs. It will help with digestion. And, you’ll only be taking in the calories you need, instead of excess.

Have An Escape Plan

A seasoned thru-hiker doesn’t just head out into the wilderness without some sort of escape plan. Don’t allow yourself to get into a bad situation due to lack of preparation. Spend some time thinking over anything bad that could happen, and then prepare for it. Then do it again and make sure you didn’t miss anything.

Have maps downloaded and ready to show your routes even without cell phone reception (AllTrails is one of the apps that offer this).

Locate and know the ways to get in touch with “Trail Angels” along the paths of your thru-hike.

Understand where the restock locations are, and take note on where your at while on the trail so you know how much farther you may need to go. I’ll post a Land Navigation post and back link it here in the near future to help with this topic.

Have a way to signal that you need help.

This post was written by Evan
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Planning Your First Overnight Backpacking Trip

Finding Your Perfect Boot & Secondary Shoe

The North Face Vectiv Exploris Mid boots are comfortable to hike in, however, they have a very narrow toe. Keep in mind that feet swell during long hikes! Although they look very stylish, they did not work for me on the trail. I ended up with a pair of Merrill Moabs.

Whatever you do, don’t do what I did and select your first pair of boots because they “fit perfectly” in the store. It’s an easy mistake to make as a rookie, but trust me when I say you’re going to want boots that feel a little bit wide around the toe area, and not too snug anywhere else.

This is because after multiple miles hiked your feet will swell and, when they do, you’re going to be happy you have a little extra room to avoid friction burns and blisters.

There are plenty of boot options to go with. From ultralight-weight ones that don’t offer much toe protection, to ones that have reinforced siding to decrease the chances of a foot injury while you’re out on the trails, to water hikers. If you can swing it, I’d get at least two of the three listed. In my personal pack I carry my Teva (sandal style) water hikers so I don’t need to worry about soaking my daily hike boots when it comes time to cross a river or creek. When you’re just starting out, I recommend starting with a versatile boot. Find a pair that fits well, offers stability for your ankles, and has a little extra protection with mesh-venting the sides.

Teva’s feel great while walking and even better when dipping your feet in a fresh stream! These water-hikers are perfect for times when you don’t want to risk getting your primary boots soaked, but need to cross a waterway.

It’s important to keep in mind the traction of the soles as well. If you’re planning to hike off of the beaten path or do any wilderness thru-hiking, you’re going to be traversing a lot of different types of terrain. A good amount of “grip” on the earth will keep your ankles from rolling easily, and avoiding injuries on the trail is typically my biggest concern. I’ve acquired a weaker ankle from a previous injury so mid-level support is important to me. You’ll want to find your weak spots as a backpacker and then seek out the gear that supports you the best. There will never come a time that one particular brand always outweighs another, but, I do prefer quality, so I highly suggest a good brand when selecting your boots. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself with soles trying to tear away, or holes in the scuff areas.

Finding Your Perfect Pack

While I was at Nymph Lake and Emerald Lake in the Rocky Mountains, The Osprey Atmos/Aura AG 50s are great packs that really came in handy for my wife and I. They have a rain cover already built into the bottom compartment of the pack which made it much easier to protect our gear. Thunderstorms brew quickly in the mountains so anything that offers a faster gear swap out is a big deal!

Now that you’ve found the right boots, you’ll want to spend time fitting your pack.

To properly select the pack I recommend remembering to take these few things into consideration:

How much water will the bladder section hold?
Personally, I prefer the Osprey mouthpiece for my kits.

As you already know, water is extremely important when the body is expending energy, and hiking works a lot of different muscle groups, which can quickly lead to dehydration if not properly prepared for. It is estimated that for every 2 hours of hiking a person will need to drink 1.5 liters of water, even more so in higher heat temperatures. I carry a 3L bladder in my pack and I’ve made it 7.5 hours up mountainous terrain while rationing that 3.5L. However, keep in mind there are additional sources of water when you’re out on the trails so that you don’t have to ration like I do. You can bring emergency equipment such as a life straw or water treatment tablets. These will allow you to drink from natural sources of water without carrying additional weight like you would with a secondary hydration pack or hip bag. Make sure when you’re shopping for your water bladder that it will fit in the bladder section of your bag without a problem. Most hydration bladders fit the majority of bag spaces, so you shouldn’t run into too many problems when purchasing this essential gear accessory.

How much storage capacity is required for the time I spend backpacking? 
I prefer a 50L bag when taking multi-day trips, but for a single day/6 mile or less hike, I use a Cotopaxi 24L Luzon.

The carrying capacity of your pack can come in many different shapes and sizes but here is a short breakdown to help you plan.

0-10 liters – A few carry items, snacks, emergency kit.

Osprey Small Day Cinch

10-20 liters – Great for a quick and light hike.

Osprey Daylite

20-30 liters – For full day hikes, this would be a proper size. It allows you to carry light rain gear, snacks, a decent-sized bladder, water hikers and an extra set of warm/cold weather gear dependent on your destination.

Cotopaxi 24 Luzon

30-50 liters or more – These are best for overnight and multi-day trips. The extra space does add weight to your pack, but it allows you to pack all of the gear you’ll need to embrace the elements. Don’t forget to throw in a bear canister if you’re trekking bear country.

Gregory 50
How do I size my pack?
Technology Side-note: Osprey have started using their new anti-gravity technology and it really has been a game changer in load bearing.

Contrary to popular belief, packs aren’t just measured by your height. This means taller people don’t have to have a taller pack, and it also means shorter people don’t need a smaller pack. To properly measure your pack you will need a measuring tape and measure form the C7 (cervical section, where the bone sticks out from the back of your neck) to the iliac crest (top of your hips). Most packs are adjustable to a certain extent when it comes to length, but width around hips is usually within a few inches for snug-fitting. Be sure to try your pack on for comfort before taking it out on a trip. Many retailers will not replace used gear unless it’s a warrantied manufacturing defect.

Example measurements, but make sure you try your bag on when it arrives or while you’re in the store. Sizing varies individually.

Train, Before You Go

It’s easy to get wrapped up in the adventure part of backpacking and forget to do the training first. Just know that some trails are marked intermediate and difficult for good reason. Most hikers plan for 5-6 miles a day when starting out, but some experienced thru-hiker may go 16 miles a day or even more!

Intermediate and difficult rated trails are usually rated by technicality of terrain, the strenuous level, and dividing the vertical distance by the horizontal distance.

Sometimes you just need a breather in a meadow.

But, what does all of that really mean? It means if you’re not careful you can find yourself in a very bad situation very fast. Mother Nature has a strange sense of humor sometimes and many times it’s at the hikers expense. But if you properly train before taking on these endeavors, you’ll find a great sense of accomplishment when you’ve completed the trail.

I recommend starting at a local trail, and tracking your time, distance and usage of water during the hike. AllTrails Pro is an app that will track your route, even if you take a detour from a main trail. Trust me, it’s saved me before in a situation where I found myself lost in the wilderness. Check out the blog post for mapping your trail if you’d like to know more.

Fun fact: When my best friend (my wife) and I completed the first difficult-rated trail system it felt like we’d hit a huge milestone. It was life-changing and brewed up the idea of an innovation and technical gearing company, now known as HykLyt. Thanks to this milestone in our journey, we get to help others live theirs!

Pick Your Trail, Gear Out Essentials, And Go!

Now you have your boots, your pack, and you’ve trained. To really get out there, the only thing left is listing your essential gear, and then making sure you have any permits (wilderness/backcountry permits) required to enter the areas you plan to hike. There’s a bit of information to list out for both of those subjects so I’m going to break those down into separate articles for those who are interested. You can find the links at the bottom of this page.

Click here to see list of essential gear.

Click here to learn how to navigate national park permits, timed-entry to wilderness areas, and gain travel tips when visiting parks systems.

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