Hiker Lingo -- What it Means

Hikers have their own lexicon/lingo/jargon/slang/vernacular/patois. We have created a guide below to de-mystify some terms that you may hear on the trail.

Word Meaninig
AMC The Appalachian Mountain Club; maintains the AT from the White Mountains, NH to Grafton Notch, ME.
AMC The Appalachian Trail Conservancy/Conference; volunteer-based, nonprofit organization whose mission is to preserve, mange and promote the AT in its primitive state.
AT Appalachian Trail; a ~2,176 mile hiking trail from Springer Mountain, GA to Mount Katahdin, ME.
AYCE "All You Can Eat" Restaurants; these are hiker-havens since they allow for unbridled feeding to replenish the 5,000-6,000 calories burned each day.
Base Weight Weight of pack and gear minus consumables (food, water, fuel).
Bear Bag A bag attached to a long rope that is thrown over a tree branch; puts food out of reach of bears and other animals.
Blaze Vertical 2" x 6"rectangle placed at eye level, usually on trees, to mark the trail.
Blaze, Banana When a girl chases after a guy on the trail.
Blaze, Blue Indicate side trails (often leading to shelters or water sources), shortcuts, vistas or easier parts of the trail.
Blaze, Pink When a guy chases after a girl on the trail.
Blaze, Rainbow People who hook together all sorts of routes, including hitch hiking, to complete the trail.
Blaze, Yellow Taking a vehicle to skip ahead on the trail; yellow denotes the color of the road centerline.
Boink Eating too little and running out of energy.
Bonus Miles Miles walked off-trail; this includes hiking into towns, resupply points, water sources and misdirection.
Bounce Box A box of gear that a hiker packs and sends ahead to another part of the trail. These often contain seasonal items, such as heavy weight sleeping bags are gear that are needed on cooler parts of the trail.
Calorie Loading Eating as much in town as possible to replenish calories; often happens at AYCEs.
Camel Up Drinking as much water as possible at a water source; some hikers do this instead of carrying water.
Cat Hole A hole 6" to 8" deep dug to deposit human waste.
Cowboy Camping Camping under the stars without shelter.
Crash Camp An improvised camp site.
Croo Caretakers of AMC huts; typically college students. They move from hut to hut along the trail.
Dirt bagging Getting gear from thrift stores or hiker boxes at little to no cost.
Double blaze Two blazes, one above another, indicating a trail turn or intersection; Garveys are offset double blazes whose offset of the top blaze indicates the direction of the upcoming turn.
Flip Flop Term used to describe a hike that covers one portion of the trail, then jumps back to the starting point and resumes in the opposite direction. For example, a hiker may hike south from Harper's Ferry, VA to Springer Mountain, GA then go back to Harper's Ferry and hike north to Mount Katahdin, ME.
Gaiters Outerwear that goes around the ankles to cover hiking footwear to keep debris, rain and snow out of shoes.
GAME or GAMEr Someone hiking from Georgia (GA) to Maine (ME).
Ghost Blazing Following a historical section of trail that is no longer used; this happens when a trail is re-routed. Typically the old blazes are blackened out.
Gound Control Person off the trail who handles 'real world' concerns including bills, lawn care, resupply boxes, etc...
Hike Your Own Hike (HYOH) A common mantra on the trail; each hiker's journey is their very own.
Hicker Someone on the trail who is still trying to figure out their gear.
Hiker Box A box or cabinet at hostels where hikers donate unwanted/unneeded food and equipment to other hikers.
Hiker Midnight About an hour after sunset, around 9 pm; most through hikers are asleep by this time.
Lean-to One to three sided shelter meant to provide minimal shelter to hikers.
Leave No Trace (LNT) Philosophy of treading so lightly that no trace (especially trash or disturbances to nature) is left behind.
Mail Drop A method of resupplying along the trail. Boxes are either pre-packed by the through hiker or packed as needed by Ground Control. Mail drops are usually sent according to a predetermined schedule based upon the anticipated location of the hiker on the trail. These are typically sent to post offices but can be sent to hostels if the through hiker plans to stay there.
MATC Maine Appalachian Trail Club
Maintainer Volunteer who participates in organized trail maintenance.
MEGA Someone hiking from Maine (ME) to Georgia (GA).
Mountain Money Toilet paper; this has an unrealized value on the trail, especially when a hiker runs out.
Mouse Hanger A rope hanging from the ceiling of a shelter or hostel; food bags are hung from the hanger to discourage mice from getting into food.
MUDS Mindless Ups and DownS; seemingly pointless ups and downs along the trail. Also known as PUDS.
MYOG Make Your Own Gear.
Nero Nearly zero; a short mileage day.
NoBo North Bound through hiker (also called GAMEr).
Pot Cozy Insulation or cloth wrapped around a pot to keep the contents warm.
Power Hiker Hiker who covers long miles each day, often into the night.
PUDS Pointless Ups and DownS; see MUDS.
Purist A hiker who wants to hike every white blaze on the trail without shortcuts.
Register Log book normally found at a trail shelter or a trail head. These are used to share information about hiker enounters and pass messages to other hikers along the trail.
Relo A section of trail that has recently been relocated.
Ridge Runner Person paid by a trail-maintaining club to hike back and forth along a certain section of trail. They educate hikers on LNT, enforce regulations, monitor trail and campsite use, and sometimes perform trail maintenance or construction duties. Such persons are most often found in high-use areas of the trail.
RMC Randolph Mountain Club in New Hampshire.
Ruck Originally small informal gatherings of past and future AT hikers, they have evolved into larger annual scheduled events. http://friends.backcountry.net/ruck/
Section Hiker Person trying to complete the AT by hiking sections at a time.
Shelter Rat Hikers who stay exclusively in trail shelters.
Slabbing Going around a mountain on a slightly graded footpath rather than straight up the mountain.
Slack Packing Through hiking with minimal gear, often without a pack; hikers arrange to be picked up at another point on the trail and reunited with their gear.
SoBo South Bound through hiker (also called MEGA).
Stealth Camping Camping off the trail without disturbing the ground.
Stiles 'A frame' steps that go up and over fences.
"Ten essentials" Short list of 10 or 12 items thought necessary to be carried by day hikers in their pack. One example of such a list: Map, Compass, Water (and a way to purify it), Extra food, Rain gear/extra clothing, Fire starter and matches, First aid kit, Army Knife/multi purpose tool, flashight with extra batteries/bulbs, sun screen/sun glasses.
Through Hiker Someone attempting to complete a trail end-to-end; often the Appalachian Trail (AT), Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) or Continental Divide Trail (CDT)
Tour Hiker A person who pretends to be hiking the entire AT as a thru-hiker but instead skips sections and looks for ways to spend more time lounging in towns and less time hiking the AT. Usually scoffs at the traditions of thru-hiking and thinks that the phrase “hike your own hike” is an excuse for just about anything.
Trail Angel Someone who provides unexpected help, transportation, lodging, or food to a hiker.
Trail Legs Legs hikers yearn for during the first five weeks of a through hike; good trail legs carry you 10 miles without stopping, better trail legs carry you 15 miles without stopping.
Trail Magic Random acts of kindness on the trail. As simple as sharing food or water or providing a ride into town.
Trail Name Pseudonyms used by hikers on the trail. These are often earned through a mishap or funny story. Some hikers create their own trail name prior to beginning their through hike.
Triple Crown The title earned by those who have thru-hiked the PCT, CDT, and AT.
Vitamin I Ibuprofen; essential to many hikers on the trail.
Wetted Out When gear's water proofing properties fail.
The Whites The White Mountains in New Hampshire.
Widowmaker Limbs or whole trees that have partially fallen but remain hung up overhead; they pose a danger to a person below.
Wilderness Area Official designation for public lands set aside to be protected from humans.
Work for Stay Some hostels, the AMC Huts in the Whites, and a few other places along the AT allow some hikers to work in stead of paying the fee for lodging.
Yard Sale Completely unloading a pack to spread out all of the contents; this looks like a yard sale.
Yogiing The practice of talking to and getting people to give you food. Best success is if this skill is used with picnicers, day hikers and campers.
Yo-Yo Completing a through hike then turning around and starting again in the opposite direction.
Zero [Day] A rest day.