After much reflection and consideration, I have accepted the trail name…Sir Fob W. Pot. It can be shortened to Sir Fob or simply Fob.
I will share the back story, or at least a version of it that I know. I don’t know all the specifics, but I think I have the general gist of what went down. Several years ago, when my youngest son Kyle (now a college senior) was in about 9th grade, he went on an Adventure Trek with Larry Alexander and 20 or so other teenagers. Larry is an AT and PCT thru hiker (trail name: Baro), friend, author, and my AT mentor. He takes groups out into the wilderness for several days of team-building, hiking, and rappelling.
One evening, as the group descended into their campsite, Kyle was left with the impression that they would be hiking out the opposite way the following morning. About 10pm, nature called in a big way. Kyle felt the rumble in his tummy and needed to act quickly. As there was no privy, the proper procedure was to go into the woods, a good 30-50 yards away from camp, dig a hole, do your business, bury it, and return to camp. Above all else, you are to “leave no trace.” This is an established camping principle dating back at least to the time of Noah.
Kyle, with a still developing frontal lobe, decided to divert from the operating manual. Maybe he was scared…or lazy…or simply trying to beef up his résumé to get into the Knights social club at Harding one day. Whatever the motivation, he headed back up the same trail the group came in on, dropped his trousers around his ankles, and in a moment of moral weakness, in the light of the moon, took a massive dump in the center of the trail. Perhaps immediately realizing his grave mistake, he sprinkled a few leaves on top for good measure and walked back down the trail to camp.
The next morning, Baro assembled the young hikers and told them they would be hiking back out the way they came in. Kyle’s eyes widened and he immediately got a big lump in his throat (but not nearly as big as the lump he had criminally left sitting 50 yards up trail with a few leaves on it).
As they approached the Kyle pile, Baro immediately spotted it and tried to shield the eyes of the younger hikers, but it was too late. An avid outdoorsman, Baro closely examined it and revealed what others suspected…this was a pyramid of human waste. So he circled the troops around this disgusting mound of filth, and gave a short speech on the sanctity of trails, leave no trace principles, and accountability. They weren’t leaving until someone owned this horrendous trail violation. After a few awkward moments of silence, Kyle shrugged his shoulders and sheepishly raised his hand. Baro sighed, shook his head, and gave Kyle his official trail name: Trail Pooper.
Fast forward to last week…as I began my AT trek, Baro suggested I be named Fob W. Pot…Father Of Boy Who Pooped On Trail. My first hiking partner, Matt, loved it. He suggested I add Sir in front of it to make it more dignified…and because I was the oldest person he’d seen in 3 days. I discussed the name with several other thru hikers and they loved it and the story behind it.
In addition to the great story, it connects me to family (Trail Pooper), to my AT hiking mentor (Baro), and to my first AT hiking partner, Matt. It’s a name I earned by virtue of being partly responsible for the birth of Kyle, the Trail Pooper himself.
And who knows? Maybe someday Kyle and Laci will have a son, an adventurer type, and all the hiking world will come to know him as Sob W. Pot.
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