I’m Steve Stresky, a 59-year-old, semi-retired hydrogeologist who completed a thru hike of the Appalachian Trail in 2016. I used this blog for myself to chronicle my hike, and for my family, friends, and anyone else who wanted to follow along! This was a bit more high-tech compared to the old-fashioned pen and notebook, so I could post pics and narratives about the hike. I didn’t blog every day, but caught up from time to time as internet access allowed and posted happenings along each stretch of the trail. I made it!
AT: Appalachian Trail. The hiking trail that extends along the spine of the Appalachian Mountains 2,189 miles from Springer Mountain, Georgia to Mount Katahdin, Maine. Considered the most rugged trail of the three (based on research and my conversations with hikers who have hiked the other two trails) in terms of terrain and elevation gain, but easiest overall in terms of length, water availability, and resupply options.
ATC: Appalachian Trail Conservancy. The organization that promotes and preserves the Appalachian Trail.
Blue Blaze: Marking that designates side trails, trails to water or shelters, or bypasses around sections of the AT that could be hazardous in certain weather conditions.
Bump: To send yourself a mail drop.
Bump Box: The box that is bumped, potentially several times.
Cat Hole: A 6- to 8-inch hole dug to deposit your waste.
CDT: Continental Divide Trail, the trail along the Continental Divide of the Rocky Mountains, considered the most difficult of the three trails.
Gray Blaze: To pursue a relationship with an older, male hiker.
Hikers Midnight: 9 p.m.
Mine Field: The area near a shelter or campsite without a privy where everyone has done their business.
Napkin Bomb: A member of the Mine Field where a cat hole hasn’t been dug deep enough.
Nearo: A short day with little mileage. Commonly done to maximize a day in town, a lodge or motel, or a Zero.
NOC: Nantahala Outdoor Center. A commercial outfitter, three of which are located either on or near the AT.
PCT: Pacific Crest Trail, the trail along the spine of the Sierras and Cascades, considered the second most difficult of the three Trails.
Pink Blaze: To pursue a relationship with another hiker of opposite gender on the trail.
Purist: At a minimum one who is dedicated to hiking every foot of the trail (no Yellow or Blue blazing). Some purists will also not slackpack (must carry your own pack) or flip-flop (end-to-end only), and I met one who would not take a ride into town.
Ramen Bomb: A mix of Ramen noodles and dried potatoes.
Skulk: To wait near a shelter until it fills, in order to tent in lieu of using the shelter. Applies only to the Smokies and frowned upon by Ridge Runners.
Stealth or Stealth Camp: To camp at an unknown site not in the Guide or on a map. Normally done to bypass a camp site or shelter too early in the day or because making it to the next camp site is not feasible. Gaps and ridges can have good camp sites, but generally don’t have water, so planning ahead to carry water is necessary. Stealthing in pristine areas is not good practice, used only as a last resort.
Sticks: Hiking, or trekking poles.
White Blaze: the rectangular symbol painted on trees marking the trail, and the act of following the AT. Also the name of a website organization about all that is AT.
Yellow Blaze: To skip a section of the trail. Due mostly to trail restrictions such as fire. Also done when returning to the trail is problematic because of shuttle or hitching restrictions. Purists will avoid Yellow Blazing, and will either wait until restrictions are lifted or return to complete skipped sections. Some hikers Yellow Blaze significant portions of the trail because of injury, time-line or other personal reasons.
Yogi: To ask for or obtain, perhaps in a cunning way, food on the trail.
Zero: a day with no hiking. Typically in town or at a hostel (less often at a camp site) to resupply, manage mail drops or bumps, tend to an injury or illness, dry out, or just rest.
If anyone has any questions or comments on this glossary let me know!