The First Rule About the Appalachian Trail is You Don't Talk About Springer
“Have you seen Cock Bubbles?” I ask.
Peacock, a tall, slender, blonde that I just barely started cruising with tilts his head, confused. His shirt’s sunset and palm trees were frowning and drooping from humidity- induced sweat. The “look” left one curious as to what poorly themed, college freshman week Hawaiian party he was walking home from: sweaty, tired, maybe looking for one more beer, and again slightly confused.
“No I haven’t seen him,” he responds.
We were resupplying for the next section and sleeping at a drive-in. I’m sure Bullet Train was a good movie, but through a shitty radio and an unforgiving urge to sleep, it was just alright.
But where was Cock Bubbles?
C.B., as we call him for short, was aptly named for a silicone and phallic-looking piece he smokes out off.
Later, I remember meeting his poor mother at trail magic she provided. It was pouring bone-cold rain, but nothing could prevent my chipped nails and dirty hands from partaking in the buckets of chicken provided. The Colonel is good on trail, I can’t lie. Plus, the ammonia smell emitting from the sleeping pad that rests against my back hinted that I need more protein anyway.
His mother asked, “Why can’t it just be Bubbles?”
“I call him Bubs!” chimed in another hiker named Hash between sips of beer (he would like it to be known that Hash is a SpongeBob reference and not what you are actually thinking).
His mother sulked back, all too disappointed in her son’s funny, albeit jarring, trail name.
For what it’s worth though, it’s easy to remember. In a world of insert generic-ass names, I only know one Cock Bubbles.
Trail names stick out. Usually they are something that is virtue signaling about the person: their attire, attitude towards life, or an opener to a good story.
In addition, the anonymity of trail names is fascinating. One could really know truly nothing about somebody they have been hiking with for weeks. Shit, they could be Tyler Durden. They could be making it all up.
Yet, when you haven’t showered, changed your underwear (if you are still wearing it), or ate something that didn’t come from a sealed package and/or wrapper, honesty takes the wheel. After-all, comfort breeds unhappiness and discomfort breeds… I don’t know if it’s happiness but fun is fun. And when I can’t smell you and you can’t smell me but we can both somehow gather the scent of oncoming day hikers, I expect honesty within that.
At the end of the day, I don’t know you and you don’t know me. At least that’s what we convince ourselves because some things can be summed up from trail names.
I, for example, am one of the many Shaggies on trail due to my affinity for green clothing, lackadaisical language, and shaggy hair. The occasional Scooby-Doo impression too, I guess.
From what I’ve heard though, which is relative because information out here is like talking into a soup can with mambo number five coming out the other end, there were a couple of north-bound Shaggies this year. Initially, I joked that if we crossed paths, we would have to duke it out.
“Who’s the best Shaggy?” I thought.
No doubt Pokémon-esque battle moves and a mortal combat voice overhead, “Finish him!”
However I’m much more zen nowadays, and I would enjoy just a mere meeting of the minds.
However, this is a P.S.A for the main Ducky I know. There is another Ducky on trail with a JanSport school backpack. There is no telling what that kind of care-free, ultralight, attitude does to a person. Stay safe kids.
This article was originally published on The Trek.