Today we will learn a little about trail vocabulary – “Trail Slang”. Billy and I tag-teamed writing this blog to provide you with the most comprehensive list of trail lingo. We encourage you to slip one of these words into your daily language (well maybe not daily but at least on the trail). Slang is always updating. Since we want you to be super cool while on the trail we will keep you updated.
NOBO– Hiking in the direction of northbound, typically from Georgia to Maine.
SOBO– Hiking in the direction of southbound, typically from Maine to Georgia.
Flip-Flop- This refers to typically starting your hike in the “middle” of a trail and hiking to the end and then hiking from either the “middle” to the “beginning” or from the “beginning” to the “middle”. Many people do this to avoid crowds.
Hike-Your-Own-Hike– Making your own decisions on trail without influence of others. An example of this would be your friends hiking 26 miles in a day when you want to only hike 10. You then hike 10 and they hike on without you. The same could be if they wanted to stay in town after a resupply and you choose to push forward on trail without them.
GORP– The acronym for Good-Old-Raisins and -Peanuts.
Smiles not Miles– Hike because it makes you smile, no matter the amount of miles accomplished.
White Blazes- The white painted markers along the Appalachian Trail that you follow for direction.
Pink Blazing- A male hiking to “find” a girlfriend, or keep up with or catch a woman.
Banana Blazing- A woman hiking to “find” a boyfriend, or keep up with or catch a man.
Aqua Blazing– Skipping the white blazes of the Appalachian trail and traveling by canoe, kayak or tube instead.
Yellow Blazing- Skipping the white blazes of the Appalachian trail and traveling ahead by car instead.
Trail Angel– A single person who provides “trail magic” no matter how big or small, looking for nothing in return from a hiker. Some people dedicate their lives to being trail angels and looking after hikers.
Trail Magic– Any given act of kindness provided to a hiker by a trail angel. Examples include someone handing out water on a hot day or food, providing a ride to a into town, or someone taking a hiker (or smelly group of them) into their home for a meal or shower.
“Pointless Ups and Downs”– Ascending and descending without the “reward” of any views.
False Summit- When you get to what you thought was the top of a mountain pinnacle and realize the summit is actually higher.
Night Hike- Hiking into the night, through the night or waking up early enough to hike in the dark before sunrise.
Ground Dweller- A hiker who sleeps on the ground (in a tent).
Tree Hanger– A hiker who sleeps “in the air” (in a hammock).
Cowboy/Cowgirl camp aka Stealth Camp– Camping without a shelter above your head and usually only a footprint and sleeping bag, open to the elements.
Soft Bladder– A water container that flattens when empty, expands when full and is usually equipped with a mouthpiece. This is similar to the “bladder” inside boxed wine.
UL- Ultra-Light, the term used when a hiker is trying to keep their weight below 15-20 lbs.
Day Hiker- An individual who intends to go out for a hike and come back in one day.
Siesta– The term a hiker uses when they are taking a long day nap when they should be hiking. Siestas are highly recommended when hiking in harsh heat. How to siesta: 1. Hike until you have decided that the heat of the day has become unbearable. 2. Find a comfortable shady spot to take shelter. 3. Siesta. 4. After you feel rested and the temperature has cooled, complete your miles for the day.
Lasher- Excuse the language, but this term refers to Long-A$$-Section-Hikers – people who complete trail hikes in long sections.
Section Hike- Hiking a part of a long trail with the intent to complete many sections of that trail eventually leading to the accomplishment of finishing the whole trail.
Yogi-ing– this term refers to a hiker receiving food without actually asking/begging for it. This is practiced quite often, typically during meals.
The Noro- Norovirus- a virus found in stool and spread by contamination to the mouth. This is common with unwashed fruits, sharing utensils or even touching a contaminated surface and then touching your mouth. This is a common virus on the Appalachian Trail. Wash your hands with water and soap thoroughly using a rubbing motion and use hand sanitizer. If using hand sanitizing wipes, please remember to practice Leave No Trace and pack out your trash!
Puffy- The down or synthetic winter jacket. Think “Michelin Man”. An example of use of this term is: “Sour Patch, put on your puffy. You don’t want to catch a cold!”
Trail Legs- A gift from the gods when you are able to hike faster on a regular basis because your body is conditioned. I received my “trail legs” twice! First, a month into my AT hike and again 2 months later.
Trail Family- The group of hikers you find yourself with on a daily basis. You may love them, you may hate them, but you look out for each other and take care of each other as though you have known everyone in your trail family forever.
Trail Name- The new name given to you on trail. A trail name is usually received because of something memorable you did on trail or has something to do with your personality. My trail name is “Violet” because on the Appalachian Trail most of my clothing and gear was purple because in my two years of planning I did not realize that slowly I was only picking out my favorite color of gear- purple.
Work-For-Stay- The term used when a hiker stays at a hostel by working in exchange for shelter.
Cameling- The act if drinking copious amounts of water before hiking or at water breaks instead of carrying heavy amounts of water. While I do drink a lot of water, I personally carry at least 2 liters with me at all times. I have been duped by guides saying there is a supplemental water source only to find dry, arid, emptiness of a watering hole available. Don’t be duped.
Slack-Pack- Hiking without the full weight of your backpack. Usually the tent, sleeping bag, extra clothes and any extra gear not to be used during the day will be ditched for the day. Many hostels offer this as a service, sometimes lending you a small day pack, so that you may complete more miles in a day than normal.
“The Huts”- Fully accommodating and staffed enclosed shelters in the white mountains of New Hampshire. These shelters have food, bunks and showers and are very popular to stay at. Many huts offer thru-hikers a discount for staying in a less than desirable area of the hut like the “dungeon” style bunks or the floor.
“The Whites”– White Mountain National Forest of New Hampshire, with many exposed summits and miles of hiking. The white are known for some of the harshest weather conditions in the country.
When you decide to hike, whether it be the Appalachian Trail or a day hike in Shenandoah National Park, we hope you find this information helpful.
Credit to Billy AKA “Sour Patch” as co-contributor for this article.