~*~ Glossary of Terms ~*~
to “hiker-speak for non-backpacking types”. Most all of these terms have been
used on my website so I thought it would be good for those who aren’t familiar
with them to have a place to figure it all out. Some are
2,000 Miler – One who has hiked the entire length of
Ankle-buster – A section of trail loaded up with
small, unstable rocks. Or, the state of
Bail Out – To stop, whether permanent or temporary, one’s hike, often due to illness, injury or weather conditions.
Bear-bagging – The art of suspending a food bag in order to protect it from bears and/or other wildlife. Ideally, the bear-bag should be on a sturdy branch at least 12-15’ from the ground and 4-6’ from the tree trunk.
Blowdown – A tree or shrub that has fallen across the trail, making it an adventure to navigate.
Blue blaze – Blue colored blazes used to identify other trails, side trails to views, water, shelters or campsites.
Blue-blazer – a hiker who does not intend to pass every white blaze.
Bounce box – Box containing items needed for re-supply and/or items that are only needed in trail towns such as extra batteries, town clothes, toiletries, that you “bounce” ahead by sending it to yourself from on trail town to your next intended stop.
Bushwhack – Hiking where there is no trail.
Cairn – Man-made pile of stones used to mark in the trail where there is no blaze, often times above treeline.
Camel up – Drinking all the water you can at a source in order to minimize the amount of water you are carrying. (One liter of water weighs two pounds).
Cat hole – A hole you dig in the ground 6-8 inches deep in order to deposit solid human waste. Should be at least 200 feet from any water source, camp and trail. Cat hole should be covered and hidden.
Crest – top of the mountain or hill.
Croo – paid staff at an Appalachian Mountain Club Hut. Cook breakfast and dinner for guests staying at the shelter.
False summit – A high point that seems to be the summit until you get close enough to see that you are not yet done climbing. Often the cause of the multiple “final pushes” as mentioned next.
Final Push – the last part of a days hike, usually up hill, and usually there are more than one of them.
Flip-flop – To hike a section of the trail in one direction, then go ahead by vehicle and hike back in the opposite direction until you get to where the hike left off. Sometimes used to beat bad weather at Katahdin.
Free-standing Tent – A tent that is designed to have structural integrity without stakes. These are particularly useful in sites with tent platforms. I wouldn’t recommend leaving an un-staked out tent in the middle of a wind storm though.
Gusher – A strong source of water with a good flow.
Half-Gallon Challenge – An attempt to eat an entire half gallon
of ice cream in a single sitting.
Usually attempted at the country store in Pine Grove Furnace,
Hiker box – Typically a box or bin in a hostel, shelter or outfitter. Hikers leave what they don’t want and take what they do. Oatmeal and ramen commonly seen in these things!
Hiker Feed – prearranged picnics/BBQs that are intended to treat hikers.
HYOH (Hike Your Own Hike) – You are hiking your hike, let others hike theirs. Being respectful of how people choose to hike, whether purist (hit every white blaze) or a blue-blazer (taking side trails).
Leave No Trace (LNT) – Backwoods ethics that promote minimal impact camping and hiking. Pack out what you pack in!
Maildrop – Food and/or sundry resupplies sent via USPS, UPS or other carries to a town that you are going to be stopping in.
Mouse-Hangers – Also known as “mouse trapezes,” these are lengths of string, line or wire on which an empty can or can lid is strung. One end is attached to the shelter ceiling, and you hang your food bag from the other end. The lid or can is intended to prevent mice from crawling down the line and getting to your food. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn’t. But, the mice really seem to enjoy them, so, what the hell, why not use them!
MUDs – Mindless ups and downs.
Postholing – Hiking through deep snow that is not frozen solidly enough to support your weight and allows your leg to drive through the crust as if you’ve stepped into a hole, doing really nasty things to your knees and shins.
Privy – Outdoor toilet typically over a pit. Usually found at most shelters along the A.T.
PUDs – Pointless ups and downs.
Purist – A hiker who makes a point to hike past every single white blaze and/or carry a backpack for the entire distance. No slackpacking or blue-blazing allowed for these folks!
Relo – Section of the trail that has been relocated. The Trail is moved from time to time for various reasons, such as avoiding development, taking it off roads, allwing eroded pathways to heal, reducing erosion, and making the route more scenic.
Ridgerunner – A person that is paid to hike and oversee a specific section of the trail. Where can I get that job?
Scrambling – Climbing up and over larger rocks/boulders, often using both hands to pull one’s self up. Typically very steep sections of the trail…and LOTS of fun!
Scree – An accumulation of loose stones or rocky debris lying on a slope or at the base of a hill or cliff.
Slackpack – Hiking without your pack, which is transported ahead for pick-up.
Springer Fever – A terrible sickness whereby every spring, thru-hiker-hopefuls and past thru-hikers have a burning to desire to get on the trail or back on the trail. There is no known cure.
Stealth Camping – Camping “off the radar” of authorities or property owners in an area where it’s not allowed. Think twice before you do this, even when camping restrictions seem unreasonable. Not only might you get fined if you’re caught, but you risk antagonizing park rangers and property owners, who will make things harder on the next thru-hiker they meet. And, usually, the reason that a place is off-limits to camping is that it has been overused in the past or is in a fragile ecological area. Stealth camping violates good LNT practices.
Stile – a step or set of steps for passing over a fence or wall.
Switchback – I have no idea what this means. I’m
Tourons – a term used for tourists, usually applied after you have sweated blood, climbing to a great view, and find it overrun with people who drove to the peak and then ask you how far you have hiked or any of the other dozen questions that you are sick of answering. Of course, if tourons offer you food, they become magically transformed into Trail Angels, and, if they offer you a ride into town, they become the salt of the Earth. Funny, eh?
Trail Magic – When something, or someone happens at the time it is most needed. Whether it’s a cooler of cold water at a road crossing, a ride into town, someone offering to pack out your garbage for you, or an amazing view after days of clouds and rain. It’s all good. Often performed by a Trail Angel.
Web-walking – Being the first hiker on the trail in the morning, which means you will be the first one clearing spider webs from across the trail, usually with your face.
Widowmaker – a dead limb that could come down at any moment without warning. Always look up before setting up your tent, having lunch or taking a bathroom break.
Work-for-stay – Practice of allowing thru-hikers to work in exchange for bed and board. Usually on a first come, first serve basis.
Yogi-ing – The fine art of getting other hikers, picnickers, or others to offer you food, drink or rides. It’s a subtle art, requiring the hiker to communicate a need without actually asking for something. Limping, wistful staring or subtle drooling is allowed, but actually asking, begging, or stealing is not, despite the actions of Yogi Bear (where this term originates).
YMMV (Your Mileage May Vary) – To each their own and HYOH, right? Not everyone hikes at the same pace or has the same ideas. YMMV is used quite often for many reasons, some which have nothing to do with mileage.
Zero Day – A day in which you do not hike any miles at all; a rest day. Usually it is spent in a town while re-supplying, doing laundry, et cetera but may be taken in the woods to just relax for awhile. Warning! Zero days in a trail town can lead to excessive spending.
Zombie zone – Manner of hiking when your mind is somewhere else and your body is hiking without you. Don’t do this in Rocksylvania.