Every 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