Supporting Adventure: Trail Talk
Hiking outdoors has plenty of perks: nice views, fresh air, and the sounds/smells of nature. Not surprising - It's incredibly good for you too! Hiking is a powerful cardio workout that can lower your risk of heart disease, improve your blood pressure, boost bone density, improve balance, strengthen your core, plus help to boost your mood. "Research shows that hiking has a positive impact on combating the symptoms of stress and anxiety," says Gregory A. Miller, PhD, president of the American Hiking Society. As Spring is right around the corner, now is the time to plan your perfect outdoor adventure!
In 1921 a simple idea for a continuous footpath along the spine of the ancient Appalachian Mountains was born. American forester and conservationist Benton MacKaye envisioned developing a trail that would allow people to revitalize themselves through hiking adventures while escaping the stresses of “modern” life. MacKaye’s vision resulted in the now famous Appalachian Trail - now celebrating 100 years of outdoor adventure in 2021.
The 2,175 mile-long Appalachian Trail traverses 14 states from Maine to Georgia. Visited by 3 to 4 million people each year - The majority of which hike northbound, beginning in Georgia anytime from late-March to mid-April. Southbound hikers generally begin late May to mid-June.
When hikers need a break from exploring the AT, they look for a lean-to, an integral part of the trail experience. The Appalachian Trail Conservancy defines a lean-to as a three sided structure with or without bunks or floors, outfitted with a bench (or benches) intended as overnight housing for hikers. Some lean-tos have multiple stories, large front porches, and a rare few even have solar showers or the possibility of having a pizza delivered. Most lean-tos have a privy and are typically near a reliable water source. Some hikers make a lean-to stop for the night, while others pop in to take a load off for lunch, sign the trail register, or take advantage of a chance to meet up with fellow hikers.
If you are going to walk the AT walk, you’re going to want to know the AT talk. Here are 20 of our favorite trail talk terms used in the long distance hiking community that you are more than likely to hear in the nearest lean-to…
Acclimatization – The process of becoming gradually accustomed to high altitude.
Baselayer – Next to skin clothing layer, preferably wicking and quick drying.
Bear Burrito – Hammock.
Blaze – Mark on a tree, rock, sign, etc. indicating the trail route. The Appalachian Trail is blazed with painted, 2-inch by 6-inch, vertical white rectangles that are placed at eye height on trees and other objects, in both directions, to mark the official route of the trail. Side trails are marked with blue blazes. You see horizontal, diagonal, arrows, and other blazes along the trail.
Cobbknocker – Whoever is first to wake up and start hiking usually ends up clearing the trail of spider webs.
False Lead – It looks like the trail, smells like the trail, and for a while it seems like you're on the trail...but you actually followed the false lead off the true trail.
Flip-flop – A hiker that starts hiking in one direction then at some point decides to jump ahead and hike back in the opposite direction. Some hikers on the AT will start hiking northbound from Springer Mt. and usually at Harpers Ferry they may decide to go to Katahdin and hike back down to Harpers Ferry, thus completing their thru-hike. This is a good way for someone to still get their hike completed if they are behind and their time is limited due to the oncoming winter.
Gear Acquirement Syndrome (GAS) – The need for new hiking toys.
Gray Water – Dirty dishwater. Some campsites will have designated spots to dump your gray water. Such designated spots may be provided with a strainer so that you can remove your food particles from the gray water and pack those out.
Harpers Ferry – The ATC's National Headquarters and Information Center is located in Harpers Ferry, WV, about 1000 AT miles north of Springer Mountain. A short blue blazed trail leads to HQ, where AT hikers traditionally sign the register and have their photo taken.
Hiker Hunger – That empty feeling in your stomach that results from eating 4000 calories per day, but burning 6000 calories per day. After about a month on the trail, it becomes difficult to carry enough food.
LNT – Leave No Trace. A philosophy and skill used to pass as lightly as possible when backpacking.
Mountain Money – Toilet paper.
Ten Essentials – Short lists 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, knife/multi-purpose tool, flashlight with extra batteries/bulbs, sunscreen/sunglasses.
Trail Magic – When good things happen to hikers, usually spontaneous and unexpected. It might be a ride offer from a passing stranger, free food courtesy of tourists, having a lost piece of gear found by a fellow hiker, or any other acts of serendipity.
Triple Crown –To hike all three major National Scenic Trails—Appalachian Trail, Pacific Crest Trail, and Continental Divide Trail.
Vitamin I – The nickname for Ibuprofen, an over the counter anti-inflammatory drug that many hikers use while backpacking.
Water Report, The – The Water Report is an on-line resource where hikers can post the condition of various water sources along the trail. Hikers farther back in the pack can use that information to determine which water sources are reliable, and which are dry.
Zeek – A week in which no miles are hiked.
2000 Miler – A person who has hiked the entire distance of the AT, either by thru-hiking or section hiking.
Learn more hiker speak just in time for the festivities of the Appalachian Trail’s 100 Year Anniversary Celebration and count on Federal Brace for unwavering bench support when the time comes to rest your trail legs. Our curated collection of innovative bench brackets feature maximum design inspiration + heavy carrying abilities, including the Banq Heavy Duty Bench Support now available in a NEW Black Finish! Check out FederalBrace.com or call toll-free (877) 353-8899, 8:30 AM - 5 PM EST for additional ideas and design assistance. We fully support your adventures!