Trail names are very useful. Their bizarreness makes them unique (For example I met Uncle Bivy Sac, Spicoli, Limbo, Sippy Cup, and Brave Little Toaster). And their meaning can be more fitting than a person's given name (There may be 100+ Robs on the trail, but only one is lost....Lost Rob).
So I, Little Dipper, didn't expect to be told, "Hey, there's another one of you heading north!" Apparently another hiker had acquired a similar name and we were heading straight toward each other.
The guys thought we should battle. I had my reservations. I mean, what if she were...nice?
Northbounder after northbounder, I would introduce myself and they would tell me of my doppelganger. I was getting close. I even heard of a "Big Dipper" heading north, and eventually met him too. The man was sizable and had earned his name from his love of food and not from the stars.
One average afternoon, Gooch and I were hiking together near the Seth Warren Shelter when we came upon an average road. We saw that Bacon had stopped and dropped his pack and was now enjoying a drink with two other hikers out of the back of a man's pick-up truck. The host of this celebration called himself "Pati-O" and his car was appropriately called the "Pati-Wagon." He had stopped by the road hoping to catch a specific hiker, but got us instead and decided that was enough of a reason for a small party.
Gooch and I approached the bunch and Bacon came up to us excitedly. "Hey, Little Dipper, meet Lil' Dipper!" and he motioned to the other female hiker. I was delighted and she seemed plenty nice. We lowered our swords. We quickly began sharing stories over drinks. Her real name was Loretta, and she had acquired the similar name (hers was Lil' Dipper, and mine was Little Dipper) in a very different way. She and Early Bear (the other hiker there) had been enjoying themselves and taking their time heading north, trying to stretch the trail out as long as it would go. This same effort would be made by me as I approached my end of the trail months later.
That night, Pati-O made us bacon-cheddar dogs, barbecued ribs, trail-bombs (akin to Irish Car Bombs) and chocolate donuts. He fed us well, and answered almost any request. He even had both milk options: chocolate and vitamin D! He proved to be a man of amazing presence and knowledge. Much of the night we listened to him tell us stories about Elvis and Frank Sinatra all while he filled the woods with music from these greats. He told us about JFK, and John Denver. He quizzed us. He informed us. Lil' Dipper taught me how to "kick ball change" and Early Bear taught me how to swing. We all celebrated for no other reason than to celebrate long past hiker midnight.
So, when the Dippers of the world collide, there is no cause to worry. Only cause to celebrate.
Pati-O, there's no other name like yours. Please, if you ever read this, contact me.