When a proud New Orleanian drops everything for a months-long trek along the Appalachian Trail, there's a good chance fellow hikers will come up with a nickname.  


Matt Haines' progress along the 2,190-mile trail (photo via Mid-City Messenger). 

Matt Haines, a Bywater resident, has done just that in the past few months, hitting the halfway mark this week on a complete hike of the 2,190-mile trail, which stretches from Springer Mountain, Georgia, to Mount Katahdin, Maine.

His nickname is "King Cake."  

That's officially 1,095 miles down — or 1,095 miles to go, depending on your perspective. 

"I’m now halfway done with the trail, which means that every step I take brings me closer to being back in New Orleans," wrote Haines in his latest update, posted on the Mid-City Messenger website. "Well, not literally, obviously, but I think you know what I mean." 

The 34-year-old, who relocated to New Orleans from New York more than eight years ago, has been chronicling his journey in biweekly columns posted to the site — posts that often read like chapters in an adventure novel. 

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So far there have been seven installments (Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5Part 6Part 7). The columns encompass everything from "What do you eat on a 6-month hike?" and "What do you do if a bear shows up?" to the trials of eating a half-gallon of ice cream. The answers to the first two questions are "a lot of peanut butter" and "bear spray" (it's a real thing). 

Haines also said he's hiking for donations to Live Oak Wilderness Camp, a Mississippi camp that serves more than 260 campers, ages 9 to 13, from 60 New Orleans-area schools. 

"It means a ton to me that we can turn this hike into more than just me walking real far," Haines wrote, adding that he'd like to donate $1 for every mile he hikes in honor of his father, who died in 2010. 

Haines had raised $1,261 as of Thursday.

More info on the camp and how to make donations is available here.

Matt Haines

After the half-gallon challenge (photo via Facebook). 

The half-gallon challenge, meanwhile, is a rite of passage for hikers at the halfway point of the Appalachian Trail. Haines posted a photo of the triumphant aftermath, but eating 5,000 calories was likely a breeze for the adventurous eater, who made it a point to sample and grade 66 different king cakes from 54 area bakeries last Mardi Gras season. 

Again with the nickname. 

For more from the Mid-City Messenger, click here.

Follow Jeff Nowak on Twitter at @Jeff_Nowak