From left to right: Twist and Oliver, True Story, Wiki, Muffin Man, Boss, Simba (the girl in the back), Wing It, Woodstock, Blacksmith, and me.
Twist and Oliver: Twist is 27 and Oliver is her dog that she adopted as a puppy when she was studying abroad. She quit her job to come out here and hike. I met her my fifth day on the trail when Chrissy and I accepted the ride from Tigger’s dad to the Best Western in Helen. Twist was in the car with us.
True Story: Before coming out to hike the trail, True Story was enrolled at West Point. He realized that it wasn’t for him, dropped out, and worked as a bike mechanic in Brooklyn for a bit. He’s in his early 20s and I met him my 16th day on the trail at Cable Gap Shelter (the night before getting to Fontana Dam).
Wiki: Wiki (short for Wikipedia) is named for his wealth of knowledge. He was actually given his trail name by Mighty Blue. I met Wiki my third day on the trail at Mountain Crossings, where he slept on the bunk across from me and Chrissy. He’s 25-years-old and is from Virginia.
Muffin Man: I believe Muffin Man is 25, but I’m not certain. He’s in his 20s, though. He was given his trail name by two German girls hiking the trail. Story goes he was sitting down eating something (I can’t remember what) when the two German girls walked up and exclaimed, “What are you eating? Muffins?!” He was not eating muffins, but the name Muffin Man stuck. I met him my fourth day on the trail when I camped at the Low Gap Shelter the night before heading into Helen. For the longest time, Chrissy and I were referring to him as Buble, because at the shelter he was listening to some Michael Buble on his radio and I didn’t catch his name.
Boss: I’m not sure how old Boss is, but he’s in his 20s. I met him my third day on the trail at the top of Blood Mountain. I ran into him again the next day and learned that he had been given his trail name. Apparently, he was hiking with someone and they said that he hiked like a boss, which is where his name comes from.
Simba: Simba is only 19, which is why she was given the trail name “Simba”. She’s from North Carolina and I’m not actually sure what she was doing before hitting the trail. I didn’t officially meet Simba until my stay in Franklin, on Day 11.
Wing It: I met Wing It on the top of Albert Mountain at mile 100 and have been hiking with him ever since. He’s lived all over the Northeast, and he most recently called Brooklyn, NY home. His parents are currently living in NH and he actually went to Dartmouth for his undergrad, so he’s pretty familiar with my home state and the White Mountains. He’s 27-years-old and was working as a structural engineer before coming out to hike the trail.
Woodstock: Woodstock is 25-years-old and was living in Boston before he quit his job to hike the trail. His trail name has a double meaning: his middle and last names are “Charlie Brown” and it’s also for the Woodstock music festival. I met him at Wayah Bald Shelter on my 12th day on the trail.
Blacksmith: Blacksmith is only 20 and decided to hike the trail pretty spontaneously. I think he only decided to hike the trail a month or two before actually doing so.
The people missing from the photo are:
Stylez: She’s 32 and from Austin, TX. She was doing some marketing and editing work before coming out to the trail. Her trail name is actually derived from the “pStyle” she brought with her on the trail. A pStyle is a little funnel device that’s supposed to allow a woman to pee in the same style as a man, as in standing up. She showed it off a lot at the beginning of her hike and True Story and Twist finally christened her “Stylez”. When I first met Stylez, she was actually holding a “show and tell” session for Mighty Blue and she had her pStyle out for display.
Tigger: Tigger is in her early 20s and is from Ohio (or Iowa – for some reason, I can never keep the two state names straight). She’s known she’s wanted to hike the trail for years. Her father shuttled me and Chrissy to Helen five days into our hike, and he told me a story about one of their family hiking trips when Tigger was younger, and part of their hike was on the AT and that’s when her dream materialized. Her family always called her Tigger growing up because of her boundless energy, and she attended the AT kick-off event this year and someone at the event referred to her as Tigger, and she decided to use it as her trail name.
Pipe: Pipe recently graduated college and was offered a pretty stellar job, so he decided to only do a section hike instead of a thru. I met him my first day on the trail and then met up with him again on my 12th day when I stayed at the shelter with him and Woodstock. He and Woodstock started hiking together on their third day, I think, and stayed together until Pipe finished up his hike in Hot Springs. His name is derived from the pipe he carried with him on the trail.
Beans: Beans is in his early 20s and is from somewhere down south, maybe Georgia? I can’t quite remember, but he’s interested in moving to the Northeast after he completes the trail. I met him on my third day at the top of Blood Mountain and then caught up with him again in Franklin, where I learned he had been given a trail name. His real name is Jay, and I guess Boss had a dream that Jay’s name was Beans, and when he woke up he told Jay about his dream and Jay decided to accept the name, so he’s been Beans ever since.
Mighty Blue: Mighty Blue is this awesome British man who’s hiking the trail for a charity. He currently lives in Florida with his wife. His trail name, I believe, is after his favorite soccer team back home. I met him my third day on the trail after my night in the bathroom.
Stealth: Stealth is a man of mystery. He was in the car with me when I got the ride from Tigger’s dad. I don’t know much about him (I’m not sure anyone does). He’s in his 20s and likes to hike on his own and has a tendency to arrive and leave camp very quietly with no one noticing.