The Legend Of “Wet-Bottom”

The legend of Wet-Bottom continues to grow with each adventure our family embarks upon.

By Philip Hunt
Explore Ambassador

Nicknames and outdoor pursuits go hand in hand. Chances are, if you come across a group of anglers, hunters or hikers, one person will have a nickname with a story. In fact, Appalachian Trail (AT) hikers quickly shed their given name in Georgia and sign trail journals with their “trail name” at every stop on their way to Maine.

During a three-week hike on the Virginia section of the AT, I met: “Spoons,” a married couple whose sleeping bags zipped together; “Web-Breaker,” a man who started hiking at 5 a.m. and was covered in spiderwebs because he was the first one on the trail; and “Gray Beard,” who didn’t let age be an obstacle to having a good time. My daughter has earned a trail name in her short hiking career: “Wet-Bottom.”

The legend of Wet-Bottom continues to grow with each adventure our family embarks upon. When our daughter started to walk, on short excursions she could always find a puddle in which to sit. We could be in the middle of a drought in a desert and she would still find a way to get her shorts wet.

After consecutive trips finishing the hike with wet shorts, it was only proper to bestow the name Wet-Bottom on our second-born for outdoor trips.

We thought that it would be a phase she would grow out of, but our daughter’s love for water is only rivaled by our Labrador retriever.

On hot September dove hunts, she can be found playing in the same puddle that the retrievers use to cool off.

December duck hunts are not immune to Wet-Bottom’s namesake. While I always give her a seat off the bottom of the kayak, midhunt she will decide to sit on the floor of the kayak where the water, falling from the paddle, has collected. It takes about 15 minutes for the water to soak through her layers of clothes — at which point, the hunt is over.

This past weekend, we headed to the Smokies for a camping trip. This most-visited national park still offers peace and serenity for those who look for it.

The last evening we looked for wildlife in Cades Cove, and we stopped to walk next to a river and tried to fish. A short way from the parking lot, a trail marker let us know we were walking across Wet-Bottom Trail.

We had a laugh and continued on to enjoy the sunset and flowing water. I waded upstream while my wife waded downstream. The kids stayed in between, skipping rocks and catching bugs. Looking downstream was the picture-perfect family excursion: kids laughing on a gravel bar in front of the backdrop of mist coming off my wife’s fly line landing delicately with precision.

I closed my eyes to soak in the pleasure of my surroundings when the laughing stopped and screaming began.

Wet-Bottom found a way to slip and land in the river.

Screams turned into laughs, and we headed back to the truck. But before we left, we had to document another chapter of the Wet-Bottom legacy at the trail marker.

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