The Story Behind Our “Trail Names”

THE ROUTE OF THE CARES GORGE TRAIL Picos de Europa

On major hiking circuits, hikers inevitably bump into other fellow hikers over and over again. When this happens, they often give each other a trail name. A trail name is a nickname either given to someone or created themselves. It can be a result of an inside joke, the outcome of an epic trail story, a reflection into someones hiking techniques, or even just an alias for someone’s physical characteristics/actions. We may not be at the level of hiking to warrant a trail name but on this eight hour hike, a little loopy from exhaustion and endorphins, we came up with a few ideas for what our trail names could be.

For Dan’s birthday, we did the Cares Gorge Trail, in Picos de Europa National Park located in Northern Spain. About a quarter of the way through this 15 mile hike, we were walking over a man-made cantilever section of trail. I dared Dan to stand over a see-through metal grate and look down at the valley floor hundreds of feet below. He stood over it without hesitation. It took me a second, but I joined him, holding his hand (as if holding his hand was going to save us if the metal grate failed and we fell hundreds of feet to our death, but whatever makes you feel better Christine.) He went to take his GoPro out to record the moment and realized it was no longer in his backpack. All he says is, “OH SHIT! I FORGOT THE GOPRO SOMEWHERE!”, drops his bag, and starts sprinting in the direction we came from.

I don’t know where he left it, but there was no way I was backtracking. So I found a spot on the trail to sit down, took out some corn nuts, and watched the show. From where I was sitting, I could see the trail for about a mile behind me. Dan’s figure got smaller and smaller the further he ran along the trail and was eventually out of site. 

I sat on the trail, eating my corn nuts, and passed the time taking in the views and snapping photos. Despite the circumstances, I appreciated the break. This type of thing has happened before. I was optimistic he would find it. Some time had passed and I looked back at the trail. I could see Dan’s figure in the distance but couldn’t make out whether he had the GoPro in his hands. I watched him get closer and noticed that every once in a while, he would be waving his hands above his head. 

Was he trying to tell me something? Does he need help?


He finally made it back to where I was sitting, drenched in sweat but smiling ear to ear. He found it! The GoPro was sitting on the trail on a rock, perfectly camouflaged into the surroundings by the heather grey sock he uses as a protective cover for screen. I asked him, “Why were you waving your hands in the air?” Turns out he was raising the GoPro in the air like an Olympic Torch in celebration of his victory as other hikers cheered him on. They knew he was looking for “una cámara” and he had found it!

A few hours later we were approaching the midway point. The sun was high in the air and it was easily the hottest day of our trip. Our steps were dragging but we needed to push on a little further until making it to the midway point in a small town called Cain. Stirring up conversation to keep myself distracted from the exhaustion setting in, I asked Dan if he had a trail name. He told me he was once dubbed “Redbeard” during his hike of the Foothills trail with his Dad and friend Tim. I joked that it would be “grey beard” soon and that we should probably come up with another one. After the GoPro incident, I would refer to him as “Double Back.” It wasn’t the first time he forgot something and had to “double back” to retrieve it and it wouldn’t be the last. A few days later on another hike around Covadonga Lake, he would “double back” again to retrieve a glove he left on a rock. 
 
An alternative trail name I came up with for Dan was “Headbanger.”  At the midway point, he hadn’t hit his head on anything yet, but I came up with “Headbanger” knowing it would happen eventually. You see, we travel to countries designed for people much shorter than him and he thinks he’s shorter than he really is so he hits his head on things often. By the end of the hike, Dan would have two dents in his head from banging it on a rock in a tunnel and a protruding branch. I mean, can you blame him? These things came out of nowhere! 😉 So sometimes I will refer to him as “Double Back” and other times I’ll refer to him as “Headbanger.” I could also refer to him as “Hydrate-or”, “Carrier of Things”, or “Snack Packer” which also would be accurate, but not as funny. 

I dubbed myself, “Snapping Turtle” because I stop often to snap photos resulting in me moving at a turtles pace.

Courtesy of Snapping Turtle and Headbanger/Double Back’s GoPro (that we didn’t lose!), check out some of the photos we snapped along the Cares Gorge Trail.

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