I have an entire set of friends who know me solely as Moss. A soft plant classified as Bryophyta. A single name, occasionally altered to Mossy Pants or Moss the Boss. This is not a delusion of grandeur or me trying to be a more earthy crunchy version of Prince. When you hike the Appalachian Trail you earn a trail name (usually inadvertently). Mine was given to me by two friends who were unusually kind in bestowing a moniker. There are far worse things I could be called (trust me)!
I'm telling you this because I am about to revert back to being Moss again. It's good being called it. It envelopes me back in that strange/comforting/stifling/freeing/simple world of long distance hiking. In approximately two months I'll be walking from the border of Mexico to Canada. I'll be surrounded by people who don't need a last name and all have (mostly) equally foolish nicknames and who will be able to identify me as a long distance hiker instantly by three things: my pack, my filth... and of course, by my name.
I let go of my thru-hike identity when I stopped long distance hiking. When I became a caretaker, I didn't see the need to resurrect it. I was no longer one of them. I wasn't in the thru-hiker club anymore. And in fact, I actually enjoyed being outside it. But it feels like it's time again.
There's a lot of different ways to look at my decision to return to this sub-culture. Right now though, all I'm going to do is introduce myself and tell you that in two months you can call me Moss, because in two months I'll begin hiking the Pacific Crest Trail.
With every day that goes by I feel more ready for it