In a previous post I described a trail name as an alias taken on by a hiker on the trail. People are more commonly known by these pseudonyms than by their real monikers. In that post, I waxed philosophic about the name “Next Step,” and how it may be a suitable trail name to use on my hike. On our December hike in the Smokys, though, Gavin suggested another trail name that I’ve been considering. It is truly incredible how creative he is, and he has a special mastery of the pun.
We were standing in the shelter packing up after a restful night’s sleep and he said, “Dad, I’ve got a trail name for you: Aftermath. Get it? After. Math.” For the uninformed, I have spent the past 29 years teaching high school and community college mathematics. My first impression was that it was a creative name, but I didn’t give it much thought because I was somewhat vested in “Next Step.” Since then, I’ve had some time to ruminate over the name and it has grown on me somewhat.
When I initially looked up the word online, the first thing I saw for a definition on Google was, “consequences or aftereffects of a significant unpleasant event.” That didn’t sound too good. Though I had some of “those days,” and a very few students over the years that I didn’t particularly care for, I certainly wouldn’t deem my teaching career as a significant unpleasant event. I also hope that I’m not a consequence or an aftereffect. Those seem to be quite negative terms. Then I looked on down the page for other definitions.
The Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary (https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/aftermath) has “consequence” as the second definition. As Cliff Clavin, of Cheer’s Fame, would say, “It’s a
I have to confess that I started writing this post on January 17, and it has been languishing on my hard drive since. I just haven’t been able to come up with a decision or a proper ending. While I truly want to honor Gavin’s creativity, I’m still somewhat selfishly stuck on Next Step. As I wrote in my Trail Names entry, I am partial to that name because of its multifaceted meaning to me and to my hike. I have discussed both names with Gavin, and while he is proud of the trail name he came up with, he understands why I like Next Step. Truth be told, it is still highly likely that I’ll do something dumb on
At least for the present, I think my decision has been made. I am honored to introduce myself to you by my trail name: Next Step. Now I’ll turn the keyboard over to Gavin to share his thoughts about trail names.
Hi! This is Gavin again, and I’d like to share my thoughts on trail names. I really like the concept of trail names, because they are a way of getting to know someone. I feel like a trail name is more personal when it is given to you based on of your characteristics or actions on the trail. This makes it feel more meaningful to me when other people pick out your name, and that is why I’m going to leave the option of my trail name up to you, my readers, and to those whom I’ll meet along the trail. Whether or not I regret this decision remains to be seen. Do any of you have any suggestions? If so, post them in the comments below. Hopefully, I will be able to respond to all of your comments before the trip.
In the meantime, I’ve been thinking about the trail name Little Bear, because I’m so bad at throwing bear hangs and so good at climbing trees. If you’re wondering why this is funny see the article about the Pisgah National Forest trip. There, we got attacked by a bear. Well, we didn’t get attacked, but our food got attacked by a bear because he was really good at climbing really small trees. In closing thank you for your time. Your comments and suggestions are always appreciated, and remember to just keep taking the Next Step!