Summit lunch break on Franconia Ridge
Summit lunch break on Franconia Ridge

To continue the hiking theme we started earlier this week with Mr. 1500, I thought I’d regale you with a little Frugalwoods family tale.

Once upon a time (like two weeks ago), Mr. Frugalwoods and I were mistaken for through-hikers. What is a through-hiker you might inquire? A through-hiker is a crazy amazing person who hikes the Appalachian Trail (AT) or the Long Trail or some other ludicrously lengthy trail from start to finish without stopping.

This would not be much of a story if this case of mistaken hiker-identity had happened to us, say ON a hiking trail or right after we’d been hiking. But no, being the frugal weirdos we are, it took place at the grocery store.

Mr. FW on the Mt. Firescrew summit
Mr. FW on the Mt. Firescrew summit

Mr. FW and I walk or bike to the grocery store together every weekend to stock up on produce and coffee, and to eat the free samples. Naturally, we take our hiking packs because they’re handy for carrying groceries and we wear hiking shoes because they are our walking shoes. Ok so maybe we look like hikers. But through-hikers?

Think about this for a moment: a through-hiker has been on a trail for weeks, if not months. They haven’t bathed, they haven’t shaved. They are looking ratty and tatty. So when someone stopped us in the grocery store and asked if we were through-hikers, our immediate response was, naturally, WOOT!

Me on the Mt. Lincoln summit
Me on the Mt. Lincoln summit

Are you ready for the clincher? The person who asked us had himself been a through-hiker.

The beard of Mr. FW
The beard of Mr. FW

Yep, apparently we look SO BAD in our weekend attire that a dude who had lived in the woods for months thought we’d also been hiking in the mountains FOR MONTHS. Mr. FW’s chest puffed up with pride and we grinned with glee. For the record, I blame Mr. FW’s epic beard for at least 50% of the mistaken identity.

This is a Woot for us on several levels:

1) We always say we don’t care what people think about us, but in this case, we were thrilled!

2) It’s a life goal of ours to actually BE through-hikers one day so I’m glad we at least look the part.

3) We now have the easiest Halloween costumes ever.

4) This Woot gives me an excuse to post more of the hiking photos that I couldn’t squeeeeeeeeze into Tuesday’s post.


The primary grumble here is that we’re not actually through-hiking any trails right now. If we were, I wouldn’t be writing this and we’d be some happy, stinky people in the woods somewhere.

Mr. FW in The Fells
Mr. FW in The Fells


What’s your greatest tale of mistaken identity?


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  1. When you say “mistaken identity” two stories come to mind.

    First, in high school, there was a girl who looked so much like me, my dad would cheer her on a track meets. He apparently had no idea what distance I ran 😉 I couldn’t give him too much grief on it – I once pointed to a phot of her in the yearbook and said “there I am… Wait… No…”

    The other story would probably make some women really mad. I don’t ever announce my pregnancies, and one of the flight directors at NASA was brave enough to ask me about my pregnancy one day. I was about 4-5 months along and he was the first to say anything. He asked “so when is the big day”. Six months after I had that baby, I saw him in the hall and he asked “when is the big day?” I immediately knew what he was getting at – I hadn’t lost all the weight and I did look a little pouchy… He played it off well, but I was furious for a few weeks 😉 or maybe still am?

    1. Those are both great (perhaps infuriating 🙂 ?) stories! That’s pretty funny though about your Dad being confused! You must’ve looked a lot alike.

  2. Being mistaken as through-hikers is definitely a compliment. I would need to grow a pretty sturdy beard before anyone made the same mistake with me, but I’m working on it (with no results for some reason???)

    In high school, there was a girl about town that looked exactly like me. I never saw her myself so I have no idea just how much she looked like me (I suspect she just had a red hair), but people always thought I was her.

    This worked out great at the local ice cream shop – the lady who owned it must have loved the other girl, because I would get twice as many strawberries in my sundaes than anyone else. I can tolerate being called a different name for that. Doppelgangers for the win!

    1. Funny, my beard isn’t coming in as full either…

      Good deal on the ice cream! I get the doppleganger thing a lot–I think I must look common.

  3. Ha, that’s so interesting. Mr. FW has an intense beard, I must admit, so I could see that being part of the rugged misunderstanding.

    I get mistaken for a student frequently. Being in my late-20’s, depending what I wear to work really changes how I blend into the university population. Today I’m in a suit separates so I look like I’m an employee, but if I’m having a lab day and I’m in a tunic and tights or jeans, or some other more casual style – I’m a student to those who don’t know me. Sometimes I like it, but other times I’m like “everyone recognize me for the awesomeness I am!” 😉

    1. I had that same problem when I worked at a university! I mean, it was kind of flattering that people thought I was an undergrad at age 28, but still…. 🙂
      P.S. you sound so fancy in your “suit separates” 🙂

  4. OK, but why would through-hikers be in Cambridge? I know the trail passes through the Berkshires, so wouldn’t you have been really, really lost?

    1. I know, right!?! We thought the exact same thing. Maybe he thought we looked directionally challenged as well…

  5. Wow, Mr. FW has a beard a la Jake Gyllenhaal circa 2011. I don’t know much about hiking but sounds like an amazing compliment!
    My case of mistaken identity was in Paris and being mistaken for a Parisian…I guess I blended in well.

    1. Ooo being mistaken for Parisian is a wonderful compliment as well! Very fancy :). Thanks so much for stopping by!

  6. When I lived in NYC, I worked at a restaurant on the other side of town and I got off work at 2 am. I was new in town and had gotten lost on my way home, so I started walking the street, not my brightest idea. My uniform was a black tanktop and I had on jeans. I don’t think I looked slutty at all but a guy followed me for about a block with no one else around before I turned around to confront him with my friend mace. He asked me if i was a hooker and I not so politely told him no and ran. In hindsight, it was the dumbest thing I’d ever done…and I quit the job.

  7. I think I’m mistaken for a “serious runner” often. I do run 1 mile every morning, but that’s it. I’ve found people usually run a lot more than that or not at all. So, I’m often mistaken as someone who runs races and marathons… but I don’t!

  8. That beard is pretty damn epic! I get mistaken for a supermodel all the time! Do you know how hard it is to just go somewhere where you want to be left alone and people are like, “damn girl, you MUST be a supermodel.” Geesh! I try to dress down and look ratty but….OK that never happens. 🙂 Hmmm, no, I get Them: “do you know who you look like?!?!?” Me: “no…sigh…here is comes…” Them: “MOLLY SHANNON!!!” Greaaaaaat! What every girl is dying to hear. 🙂 I’m not sure I could ever be a through-hiker (I’ve never even heard of that term till today), I had a hard enough time being a day hiker! 🙂

  9. Ha! That’s funny that many people would be offended by the comment, but you embraced it. For me, I get mistaken for a dumb blonde all the time. It’s just because people assume my intelligence level before they even speak to me. It’s okay, though, because I get real enjoyment when they discover I’m not and don’t know how to respond. I get the upper hand in the end! 🙂 Have a great weekend!

    1. I know that people would be SORELY mistaken if they took you for a dumb blonde! Glad you get the upper hand 🙂

  10. That is awesome, and I loved your reaction! I was thinking the beard probably had something to do with it. I don’t have many cases of flattering mistaken identity. Years ago, in middle school, someone mistook me for a teacher because I was taller than everyone else. That was weird. One time my math teacher *swore* he saw me on a day I was absent, which freaked me out. I thought he was trying to say I skipped class. Lastly, someone told me I look like Kristen Stewart, which I kind of took offense to. I do get a lot of elderly people telling me I should be a model, does that count?

    1. Hey, modeling as a side hustle! Sounds like a good plan :)! And I agree, I think the beard played a key role 😉

    2. I was mistaken for a substitute teacher on my first day at a new high school (and I was 15). It was October, so everyone else new everybody else already. After getting my schedule, it was already the end of my first class, so the guidance counselor told me how to get to my second class. found it with no problems, however…the teacher wasn’t there. And there were no empty desks up front for me to sit down while I waited. I stood by the teacher’s desk waiting after the bell rang, till finally the door opened and…a student walked in and tried to give me his tardy slip. I didn’t wear that sweater much, ever again.
      At the other extreme, during my first pregnancy (long after high school), my morning sickness got so bad I had to be taken to the ER and put on IV fluids. Since the fluids are kept refrigerated, I was freezing, and the staff found a few blankets for me to huddle under. I’d been miserable for days, so definitely wasn’t wearing makeup and probably had my hair in a ponytail Then the shift changed, and the new doctor made the rounds to see who was being treated. The first question he asked after introducing himself wasn’t what I was being treated for (how he normally started, he later explained),but how old I was, which was good, since he thought I was 12!

  11. Interesting I’ve never heard of that phrase before even though I’m pretty involved with outdoor activities. You two probably got mistaken into through-hikers b/c of Mr. Frugalwood’s beard. That beard is pretty epic!

  12. I love your reaction 🙂 positive thinking at all times! I think I must have one of those faces because people think they know me all of the time – most of the time I’ve never seen them ever before!

  13. That was hilarious and your reactions were priceless! I just don’t have anything that in any way compares. One time when I was buying about a dozen baking sodas and I’d apparently done this using the same cashier on numerous occasions, she asked me what I do with all that baking soda. I said I use it to clean. So she asks me if I’m a cleaning lady. I wouldn’t have minded so much if she’d asked if I had a cleaning business. It wouldn’t have sounded so, I don’t know, you know what I mean. Also, hubby and I go out every morning between 5 & 7 am to our local grocery stores before work to just walk around, pick up things we’re out of, especially when they’re on sale, and it’s nice to avoid the after work crowds. I think store employees think we’re secret shoppers. They’re always reeeeeeeeal curious about why we come out every morning so early, and they’re reeeeeeeeeeal extra friendly-like. Hey, not complaining! But the constant questions used to be annoying. Now they amuse us. I like to pull out my little pad with my list on it and write things down just for fun, like I’m taking notes. 😉

    1. Nice! I’m always taking photos of food at the grocery store–either to comparison shop or to post on the blog, so I bet they think I’m a secret shopper too!

  14. Mr. FW’s beard is epic. That beard could have it’s own blog. I’ll bet he could store a 6-pack in there to save money at professional sporting events. If you’re ever missing a hair brush, a cooking utensil or Frugal Hound, check the beard first. But I digress.

    I have a hard time parting with clothes. A small hole in a pair of pants or a small tear is OK. Sometimes, I’ll buy a patch and repair it from the inside and it doesn’t look half bad. The $1 fix gets me another 6 months or even a year out of the clothes. I just don’t care what anyone thinks.

    Anyway, one day I wore pair of pants with a small hole in them to work (no dress code mind you), I thought it was inconspicuous, but my boss noticed. She looked at me with pathetic eyes and asked me if I needed some money to buy some new clothes. Ha. Score 1 for me!

    Oh, and you should see the looks I got from my co-workers when I told them I shop at thrift stores! Scabies warnings followed the looks of disgust. Ha again!

    1. Beard is a way of life. Frugal Hound sometimes looks at the beard in the same manner as she peers into a hedge, looking for critters. Thus far she’s never tried to investigate further…. but the day will come.

    1. It’s great for winter bike commuting. Warm and epic looking! I do notice that the morning bike caucus gets noticeably beardier in the winter.

  15. Haha, awesome! Even Epic Beard Man ain’t got nothing on Mr. FW! You should start a Twitter account for his beard.

    I don’t care about what people think about me either, unless they complement me on something. The dude at the grocery store probably didn’t mean it like a compliment, but so awesome that you took it as one! 🙂

    1. Thanks! It’s been nearly a year of growth, and it is definitely getting to the point where it’s less a “beard” and more of a “lifestyle face covering”.

  16. What a hoot!!!! I keep telling Rick he needs to grow an epic beard like Mr. FWs, but we’re back to square one now on that front b/c his company just paid him $200 to let them shave him bald with a new medical shears they’ve invented. Put that on the list of crazy things we’ve done to get our debt paid off. 🙂

    1. The fall is a great time to start an epic beard! Summer is the worst. If we hadn’t had such a mild summer I’m not sure the beard would have survived.

  17. Haha I wish I could dress like a through hiker all of the time and I know my husband wishes he could grow a beard as epic as Mr FW’s :D. That is too funny!

    1. I’ve been told that being a through hiker is a state of mind, so embrace it no matter what circumstances force you to wear! (It also helps to not bathe for a couple of days, and to use your backpacking gear for grocery runs… but I digress)

      Beard growing is not a state of mind 🙂 I’m blessed with follicular fortitude on my face. Not so much on the top of my head.

    1. I view it as my beard bringing people together! I never realized that there is a fraternity of beard bearers. The number of “wicked beard!” comments (this is Boston, after all) I get on a daily basis, and the conversation that follows, is heart warming. Or maybe that’s the the beard insulating my torso?

  18. lol that’s awesome. I’ve been mistaken for the intern multiple times in my career. Although it wasn’t really a happy thing (once by my agency’s CFO–after working for the agency for multiple years), it was memorable. In his defense it’s a big agency and I don’t work at the main office, but still, I’m a manager.

    1. Oh no! The intern mix up! That’s happened to me too, not a great feeling to be sure. But, hey, at least you look young!

  19. I know I’m late the conversation here, but I’m new to your website. I am in a similar situation. I went car-free a couple of years ago, so I walk everywhere with my backpack. I have had a few people ask me if I am backpacking across the country. Like you, I liked hearing this, because I did actually solo ‘backpack’ in Australia and loved it… but it was the hostel/bus route, not the woods. Still fun though. I also get people in cars constantly stopping to ask me if I need a ride while I am walking with my backpack, with one guy yelling out “hey backpacker girl”. Again, I think they think that I am roaming around and would like to hitchhike. Funny how our society looks at people without cars. 🙂

    1. So true! That’s awesome you backpacked across Australia–sounds like an amazing experience! Keep up the backpacking life 🙂

  20. This. As a former thru-hiker, this post made me smile so many times! Actually, the trail is something that holds a special place in my heart because it’s what changed my life, and really kicked started our ultimate fugal lifestyle. I got a taste of freedom for 4.5 months and I wanted more.

    My wife and I now live in a 5th wheel RV, cook all (most) of our meals at home, and have one 10 year old car between the two of us (I bike 10 miles one-way to work) and are ferociously saving for financial independence. I love your blog because it’s one of the few (and well-written) that writes about frugal life as a young married couple. Thanks for all of the material, it impacts more people that you might think :).

    PS: I was on the trail for ~5 months and my beard never looked as epic as Mr. FW 😛

  21. I had a somewhat similar experience: I was mistaken for a homeless person, by another homeless guy.

    In my defense I was just coming off of a week camping in Death Valley, so my appearance may have been a bit more ragged than usual.

  22. I once was mistaken for myself.
    Like Nicola above, I was always being mistaken for someone I’ve never met, to the point where I just wanted to be mistaken for myself. It finally came one day when I was in a shop, waiting in line, and the cashier at the next checkout over called for me to go through on her line. As she was putting my items through, she said, “You look like the sister of a friend of mine from school.”
    “Here we go again,” thought I. “Who’s your friend?” I asked.
    She named her friend – one of my older sisters. 🙂

  23. My father is an old hippie. In fact, he still lives on one of the few remaining communes that survived through the era. And let me tell you, he looks the part. His wife, who is 15 years younger than him, definitely did not fit this image when I was a teenager. There were several occasions where, whilst out dining, the waitstaff thought my stepmother and I were a couple helping out a poor lost soul. Gotta love it.
    P.S. When people are going to my father’s town of residence, I advise them to. look for the “homeless man playing the banjo on the sidewalk.” Yep, that’s him. Also, he fully embraces the persona with gusto

  24. I went to a dance at my college in 1958. We had been told to get there early, because when it got full, no one else would be allowed in. Louis Armstrong was playing. We were the first ones there. He asked me if I was the singer. I wished!

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