Tuesday, February 28, 2012

What's in a Name?

If you are unfamiliar with the Appalachian Trail (AT) and its lingo, you may wonder why I call myself "Stats". You see, it's tradition on the AT for long distance hikers to be given so-called trail names. Nicknames, really, that offer an immediate look into the person's personality, quirkiness, or trail happenstance. Names like "Sir Trips-a-lot", "Roadrunner", or "Mosquito Bait".

In my case, "Stats" was given to me by a former colleague and old friend from Down Under, Mark Tannoc. During my first year as a high school teacher in Mississippi, Mark used to call me "Stats Modem" because it rhymed with Odom and because I was the softball team's statistician and school's IT coordinator. Mark often called me simply "Stats".

I never had a nickname that I liked (let alone could repeat in in respectable company) until "Stats". Nicknames never stuck with me, so I resurrected it for my thru-hike because I liked the sound of it and it seemed to fit with the book I plan on writing after my adventure. The book, entitled "Stats on the A.T.", will provide many statistics, data, and figures regarding my adventure as well as daily narratives. I don't believe a book like this has been written, so this endeavor is doubly exciting for me.

Traditionally, the trail name was given to the hiker by his/her fellow hikers near the start of the thru-hike and would be worn as a badge of honor. More and more often, however, hikers today hit the Trail with their moniker already determined. I'm a little sad that I've chosen my own name, but I think I'll rest easier knowing my fellow hikers won't be calling me "Missing Link", "Pest" or "Sir Farts-a-lot"!

Published with Blogger-droid v2.0.2


  1. Good luck on the start of your hike in two weeks!


    1. Thanks, Roadrunner! And good luck with your section hike this spring! I hope you didn't mind me using your name in this post. I was using it in the generic sense. ;)

  2. May 4, 2012
    We ( 3 of us day hikers ) Doris, Linda, and Deb ran into Stats on the trail. Top of Tinker Cliffs in the fine state of Virginia, we talked awhile and shared some of our lunch with him. Really nice fella, we all admired him taking on this challenge and was happy to have met him. We all hope he travels well. I took a photo and told him to check out whiteblaze.net. I would be posting the picture. Good luck to you "Stats".