You gotta talk the talk

HikeItForward-Final-SmallEvery activity and every group seems to have a unique vocabulary and the thru-hiking group is no different. I am beginning to pick up on some of the trail terms and hiking language that defines the adventure. For example, there are several terms to identify the kind of hiker you are:

Thru-Hiker – the general term for a brave or crazy individual (of any age, gender, race, or political party) that makes a more-or-less continuous hike of the entire Appalachian Trail.

SOBO – is a hiker that starts in Maine and travels toward Georgia (SOuth BOund). Only about 20% of thru-hikers choose this direction.

NOBO – those that begin at Springer Mountain and hike toward Mount Katahdin  (NOrth BOund). Close to 70% of hikers move south to north. NOBO will serve my agenda quite well.

Wait…..20% + 70% only equals 90%… the remaining 10% are Flip-Floppers. Some, for example, start in Georgia, hike to Harpers Ferry, WV, then travel to Maine while the weather is still mild in New England, and hike south back to WV.  Others might start at some mid-point on the trail, hike to Katahdin, then return to the same midpoint and finish up in Georgia. More formally, a flip-flopper (or leapfrogger) is one who thru-hikes the A.T. in discontinuous segments.

Section-Hiker – a hiker who completes the entire A.T. but in sections over a period of years.


I will be excited for the day when I can really call myself a Thru-Hiker. Right now I guess I am just a Thru-Hiker Wannabe

Categories: Appalachian Trail, Backpack, Hiking, Thru-Hike, Trail | 7 Comments

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7 thoughts on “You gotta talk the talk

  1. John & I enjoyed learning these terms. 🙂

  2. katjandu

    Are you going to be a Whiteblazer? I hope there are plenty of Trail Angels along your way. I did hike up the Whites while in NH, our guide brought us to a natural plunge pool, it was wonderful and cool on a hot August day.

  3. Diane Brads

    What about trail angel? Our place is about 7 miles from the Long Mt.Wayside where the trail crosses Rte. 60. Once we had stopped there for a picnic with Andy’s 2 youngest boys and we gave some picnic food to some hikers. They told us their trail names and the name of their blog so we followed the blog for a bit. They mentioned us as trail angels but it hurt a little when they said ,” an older couple and their grandkids…” Ouch! An older couple? LOL

  4. Shelly Crain

    Dave, a wonderful Scripture verse is Isaiah 40:31 for your experience on the AT. In Christ, Shelly Crain

    • This is another great verse for a hiker to memorize. I will spend some time reflecting on it this weekend. Thanks so much for sharing it with me!

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