Wednesday, August 22, 2007

A HIKER BY ANOTHER NAME

I returned today from another overnight backpacking trip, during which I met some hikers walking from Georgia to Maine, as I had hoped to. My readers may or may not realize that long-distance trail hikers, especially AT thru-hikers, often go by a "trail name," sort of like a CB handle. Some people make up their own, or even use their real name, but fellow hikers often replace these "temporary" names with something else, generally representative of a characteristic of the person, or spawned by some memorable event, and you just hope it's not too embarrassing because it's likely to stick and be the name by which all other hikers know you.

I went into the woods Against the Wind, and came out....
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Begin "Hallelujah Chorus" here....
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MacGyver!


This came about at an Appalachian Mountain Commission-maintained campsite/shelter where I spent the night. With 5 guys :-) (There are 5 tent platforms, so we each had our own.)





We were all eating our suppers together, and one of the guys, trail-named "Spock," was intrigued, or impressed, or amused, by my homemade cooking equipment. My cooking pot is a practically-weightless, no-cost, 1-lb coffee can, with a tight-fitting pot lid made from aluminum foil reinforced with foil tape, supported over my soda-can stove with tent stakes, and.... this was the final straw for Spock.... a pot-lifter/handle that is, in fact, a dog-grooming tool, a shedding blade.








It's a flexible metal blade with a sawtooth edge, a leather handle at each end, and a fastener to hold these together so that the blade forms a loop. I had been using it for Journey one day and suddenly looked at it and wondered, "I'll bet that would fit my coffee can." I tried it. It did. It's perfect. No more carrying potholders or trying to use a bandana for one. I roll it into a tight circle and store it in my coffee-can pot. So Spock saw me pull all this stuff out of my pot, and gaped at the shedding blade, and said,


"Please tell me that's not a pot handle."

"It's a pot handle," I said, fastening it around my pot to show him.


"What is it made to be?" he asked.

"A dog-grooming tool," I explained. "See this sawtooth edge? You pull it along the dog's coat and it pulls out the dead undercoat. I was using it on my dog and had a lightbulb moment. I figured I can use it as a saw, too."
He threw back his head and laughed, "Your name's gotta be MacGyver!!"
I love it!! I'm crazy about it! Especially since Spock has made a lot of his gear, too, including his backpack (which is awesome), and his calling me MacGyver showed appreciation for my ingenuity.

"Against the Wind" has been great for marathoning, and triathlon, and Ironman. It sounds like pressing on through challenge and even adversity. But it's kind of long to use for a name I'll actually be called by, and it's maybe a little pessimistic, always struggling a little.
MacGyver... the secret agent who sees a new use for something, rigs up something improbable from something ordinary, rises to the occasion, gets out of scrapes by being inventive.

A Trail Name that I love, bestowed like an award by a thru-hiker on his way to Maine, a seasoned hiker of many trails.... how good can it get?
I love it.

3 comments:

Nancy Toby said...

I never saw McGyver, so the reference is lost on me!

How heavy is that shedding blade? Looks bulky for a single-purpose item!! Although I suppose you could saw with it, sounds kind of difficult.

Against the Wind said...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MacGyver

Dianne G said...

Well, I DID watch McGyver, and loved both looking at the actor and following the stories, and I am so proud for you that you, like our first nations people, can celebrate a new part of your life with a new name. PS, thanks for your comments on my blog, and I DO hope we can connect when you come through the Smokies.