Often when I am speaking to people about my trip, I throw around some terms that I forget are hiker slang. Here is a little reference for those who don’t know.
blazes: Markings that direct you along the trail. This is what the PCT blazes look like.
bounce box: A resupply strategy. Hikers will fill a box with food, gear, etc. and send it to their next destination point. When they arrive, they will use the items in the box, restock it, send it to their next point, and start the cycle over. This allows a hiker to carry only what they need on the trail.
cache: A hidden supply of food or water (or potentially other gear). The PCT is known for its water caches in Southern California, which are stocked by volunteers.
gaiters: Outerwear that zips or snaps around ankles (and lower legs) that is used to keep water, snow, dust, dirt, or rocks out of the shoes. DirtyGirl gaiters are almost the only way to go.
gear head: A hiker who is really into his or her gear, gear in general, knowing about gear, and talking about gear – often to a point of social detriment.
hiker box: A box found at hostels, hotels, restaurants, gas stations, convenient stores, etc. where hikers donate unwanted food, gear, and equipment for the hikers following behind them. Hikers can pick and chose what they need at each hiker box.
hiker hunger: A very strong empty feeling in your stomach that comes from eating 3000-4000 calories per day, but burning 6000 calories. Hiker hunger results in indulging in almost any mixture or creation of foods, despite the taste.
hiker trash: Both a derogatory and loving term for long distance and thru-hikers. People say it comes from the fact that thru-hikers often are confused for homeless people when they are at town stops.
HYOH = Hike Your Own Hike: The philosophy that there are many right ways to hike a trail and we don’t all have to do it the same way. Do what makes the most sense for you and create your own experience, despite anyone else.
LNT or Leave No Trace: Leave no trace means exactly what it sounds. It promotes education, use of the outdoors, preservation, awareness, appreciation and respect towards out environment. Take only photos and leave only footprints! Read more about LNT here.
mail drop: A method of re-supplying. Hikers often prepare themselves with boxes to send to mail drops along the trail. Each box is filled with food and gear they will need at each stop. This prevents them from having to spend more money on the trail and having to go buy food. There are many mail drops along the way in each town on or near the trail.
nero day: A short mileage day of hiking. A near zero day.
NOBO or Northbounder: A thru-hiker that hikes north.
PCT: Pacific Crest Trail.
privy: An outhouse in the woods.
resupply strategy: A way to replenishing yourself with necessities such as food, gear, and toiletries. Resupply strategies include on trail, bounce box, and mail drops.
section hiker: A person who is doing a long section of a hiking trail.
SOBO or Southbound: A thru-hiker that hikes south.
switchback: A 180 degrees turn in direction on the trail. These are usually found on mountain ascents and descents.
thru-hiker: a person who is attempting to hike the entire length of trail in one attempt.
trail angel: Someone who provides unexpected help, transportation, lodging, or food to a hiker.
trail magic: Unexpected, wonderful help along the trail. Often involving kindness and food.
trail name: A name that is given to someone while hiking, often through a mistake or fuck up you may have made. Often people on the trail only use their trail name to identify themselves.
zero day: A day when no miles are hiked. This is usually a day spent in town running errands, doing laundry, resupplying, eating, sleeping or just a day to relax on the trail.