The disciples are drawn to the high altars with magnetic certainty, knowing that a great Presence hovers over the ranges ... You were within the portals of the temple ... to enter the wilderness and seek, in the primal patterns of nature, a magical union with beauty.
--Ansel Adams (1902-1984) American photographer
This is Hayes Crowley (trail name 'Opie'), who I met last night at the Beauty Spot outside of Erwin, TN. Very laid back and friendly, it was fun talking to Opie and hearing about his life and his experiences out on the trail. It's my experience that thru-hikers are some of the most interesting people on the planet. It's a long standing tradition that AT thru-hikers adopt a trail name by which they're known to one another -- it becomes their trail persona. I suppose it's just another way for the hikers to leave the world behind. Some choose their own names while others wait and let other hikers assign a name based on experiences out on the trail. For instance, one was named "Silver Foot" because of all the duct tape used to prevent blisters. Another named "Stitches" after she fell and, well, you already know the rest. One was named "Librarian" because of the number of AT guidebooks in her pack. Opie simply said it was a name he'd been called. He's originally from Atlanta, and attends Appalachian State where he majors in English (at least for now). Opie got a late start on the AT, so he doubts he'll get the entire trail conquered this year, but that seemed to be okay with him. If I were a thru-hiker, I'd have given him the trail name "No worries." More on trail names here and here.