One of the most well known traditions of the Appalachian Trail is the taking on of trail names. Throughout the trail, at the beginning of sections, at shelters, at certain places in trail towns, there are registers in which hikers write a note about their day and their plans. Sometimes hikers leave notes for other hikers they’ve passed along the way. It’s also another way the Appalachian Trail Conservancy can prove that you actually completed your thru-hike.
There are two ways to acquire a trail name: pick one yourself or be at the mercy of the imaginations of other hikers. I personally was not going to wait for someone to look at my buzz cut and call me G.I. Jane for the next six months. So I chose to adopt a name that has personal significance to me: Artemis.
Zach, being the enigmatic and likable guy that he is, immediately had candidate names from hikers we’ve met early on. I ventured a couple of potentials based on my knowledge of what’s in his pack. For example, the kid packed an insane first aid kit complete with a one pound jumble of assorted vitamins and pills, sutures provided by my mom, lidacaine patches from his mom, a large amount of foot cream, etc. Or it was suggested that he receive a name because of the monocular he’s packing. There’s probably a good pirate joke there somewhere.
But the right name presented itself as we were hiking along each day. Every time we started out, Zach would end up finding some neat little item. The second day he found an abandoned day pack from which we scored a sweet waterproof stuff sack and a number of protein bars. He carried out the pack, dragging it behind his own already loaded pack, and disposed of it at Abol Bridge about 5 miles away. Another day he found an antique Appalachian Trail metal marker that is at least 20+ years old. Another day he picked up a bandana that ended up being used by another hiker. Another day he found a water bottle one of our friends had dropped and returned it to him.
As this pattern continued and his curious nature took us on side trails to extra pieces of beauty alongside the AT, a name emerged amongst the 100 Mile Wilderness hiker crew and Zachary Marcus Wells became “Treasure Hunter”.
[Pictured above is Treasure Hunter standing on top of Screw Auger Falls, a side trail he read about and pulled us all (me, him, and our friend Chris) through a river to check out]