Trail Terminology...

AT Trail Terms & Basic Hiker Jargon

AT: Appalachian Trail

AYCE: All You Can Eat (Typically a note found in a trail register, informing hungry hikers where to get the most bang for their buck in an upcoming town).

Banana Flip - A fall in which your feet fly up in the air and you land on your back, as if you'd slipped on a banana peel.

Blazes - 2" x 6" paint swatches on trees that mark the trail; white blazes mark the official AT, while blue blazes mark routes to shelters or other features (ever heard the phrase "blaze a trail" ... this is where it comes from).

Carin - Manmade pile of stones used to mark a trail in treeless areas.

Cathole 6" - 8" hole dug by the hiker, used for human waste. Must be dug at least 200' from any water source, camp or trail.

Face Plant - A face first fall

Flip-Flop - To hike a section of trail in one direction, then return to the starting point and hike in the opposite direction -flip flopper.

Frost Heave - Lumps of frozen soil that jut above the surrounding ground and obstruct the trail.

Granny Gear - A slow hiking pace.

Half-Gallon Club - Membership open to any hiker who consumes an entire half gallon of ice cream in one sitting, most often attempted at Ironmasters Mansion Hostel to mark reaching the halfway point on the AT.

Hiker Box - A box or bin in a shelter, hostel or outfitter used to exchange supplies, free of charge, with other hikers.

Leapfrog - A thru-hike of the AT in discontinuous segments.

LNT - Leave No Trace, a style of backpacking intended to leave the backcountry in it's most natural state, as if you were never there.

MUDs - Mindless ups and downs (a short, difficult trail section)

NOBO - A Northbound Hiker

PUDs - Pointless ups and downs (an extended, difficult trail section)

Purist - A hiker committed to passing every official white blaze on the AT

Red-Blazing - Hiking after a nasty, bloody fall (hands, knees, elbows, arms ... all take a beating - falling once a day is typical, due to the slippery nature of wet, moss covered rocks and tree stumps as well as simply tripping over things while not watching where you're walking).

Register - A notebook in a shelter or other location in which hikers leave advice, quips, news and other messages.

Scree - Loose stones or debris on a slope or at the base of a hill or cliff (see Red-Blazing).

Section Hike - A complete hike of the AT in sections over a period of years - Section Hiker.

Slackpack - To hike without a backpack, which is sent ahead for pick-up.

SOBO - Southbound hiker

Stile - Steps that pass over a fence or wall

Switchback - A zigzag trail, built to ease passage up (and down) a steep grade.

Thru-Hike - A more-or-less continuous hike of the entire trail in one season - Thru Hiker.

Trail Angel - A person who helps hikers by providing food, drinks, or rides for no fee.

Trail Magic - Serendipitous things that happen on the trail, often related to strangers sharing food and drink when most needed.

Trail Name - A hiker's trail moniker.

Trail Shelter - Sometimes called a lean-to, the typical shelter has a metal or shingled roof, wooden floor and three walls (open to the elements on one side). Most lie near a creek or spring.

Trudge Mode - Slogging pace at the end of a long day.

Turtle-ing - A tumble in which the hiker lands on pack and struggles to regain footing.

Umbles - Stumbles, bumbles, and mumbles that may signal a more serious malady, such as dehydration or hypothermia.

Vitamin I - Ibuprofen or other pain medication.

Web Walking - To be the first hiker on the trail in the morning, thereby clearing spider webs, usually with one's face.

Widowmaker - Dead limb that drops from a tree without warning.

Yogi-ing - Begging for food from fellow hikers, as in Yogi Bear

Zero Day - A day off from hiking.

Zombie Zone - A state of absent-minded hiking.

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