A few days ago I was leading a private day hike up to Mt. Cammerer in the Smokies. After the first three miles of climbing you reach Low Gap on the Appalachian Trail. This gap is a popular resting spot for hikers coming from all directions and there are often a few people sitting around chatting. I greeted a fellow hiker here and discovered he and I follow each other Twitter. We swapped a few stories and discovered we had both thru hiked the Appalachian Trail before. My client was super impressed by our "hiker speak" and how the language we were speaking quickly turned from English to some undecipherable hiker language for her. For the next mile or so, while teaching her some facts about the Appalachian Trail, I also taught her a few hiker terms. We decided it would definitely be helpful to see some of these terms written down somewhere, so I've dedicated this post to all wannabe hikers and the terms they'll be using soon.
+NoBo - A Northbound thru hiker (on the AT this is someone hiking from Georgia to Maine)
+SoBo - A Southbound thru hiker (on the AT this is someone hiking from Maine to Georgia)
+Flip Flopper - someone who starts somewhere other than either terminus and is hiking either direction. This hike is getting more and more popular on the AT due to the overcrowding on trail.
+Section hiker - someone who isn't hiking the entire trail at one time
+Thru Hiker - a person hiking the entire trail at one time
+YoYo - hiking the entire trail in one direction, turning around, and going back the way you came in one season
+Triple Crowner - someone who hikes the "big 3" hiking trails in the US, consisting of the Appalachian Trail, Continental Divide Trail, and Pacific Crest Trail
+Yellow Blazer - someone who claims to be a hiker but skips ahead by hitchhiking (and always seems to somehow get the last spot at the hostel before you get there!)
+Pink Blazer - a hiker who chases a woman up the trail looking for love
+Purist - a hiker who insists on not missing a single white blaze, no matter the circumstances. Example - two trails lead out of a campsite or shelter, a purist will take the same trail out he took in to ensure not missing one single step of trail
+Zero - a rest day, often taken in town or at a hostel
+Nero - meaning you hiked nearly zero miles to get someplace to take a break
+Yogi - when you use your thru hiking powers to get free stuff. Example: when you approach a campground and find a large family, ask them if they know where a store is so you can go buy some snacks. They usually give you some!
+Trail Angel - someone who helps hikers in need. This could be in the form of a free ride to town, does a load of laundry, or gives you a place to stay when you're injured. Trail Angels come in many forms!
+Trail Magic - getting something for nothing, usually when you need it most. Common forms of trail magic include getting free sodas, snacks, or candy at trail heads.
+Trail Name - the alias a hiker goes by during a hike
+Slack Packing - when you leave most of your gear in your hostel/hotel room and get a ride out of town. Then, you hike back to your hotel/hostel for another night.
+Hiker Midnight - the time hikers go to bed, which is usually after sunset, but can be any time a hiker determines based on how many long miles were hiked
+Hiker TV - the rare instance a long-distance hiker decides to build a campfire. We all sit at stare at the fire, AKA hiker TV
+Hiker Hunger - the ability to eat massive quantities of food due to the sheer number of calories you're burning on trail
+Hiker Box - a box set up at a hiker-friendly business that is kind of like "take a penny, leave a penny"; you can discard unwanted food or packed items and find someone elses' cast offs
+Hiker Trash - the way hikers describe themselves, a term of endearment. Hiker Trash refers to not only the bedraggled appearance, but also the terrible smell hiker carry on them at all times.
+Bounce Box - a box you mail to yourself at different locations on trail; example - it's too hot to keep your puffy coat, so you bounce it ahead to where you'll be a month from now to avoid carrying it
+Mail drop - a box full of supplies mailed to yourself at a post office or hiker-friendly business
+Resupply - going into a town or store to stock up on food or fuel for your stove
There you have it - a list of commonly used hiker terms on distance hiking trails. Are there any terms I forgot to mention here? What would you add to the list? Do you have a hobby with it's own "language?"