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With each new experience comes new lingo to learn. We recognize not everyone reading knows what a nearo is or what it means to attempt the trail SoBo instead of NoBo. If you find yourself confused as you’re reading our posts or just wanting to immerse yourself a little further in the experience of hiking the trail, reference the list of terms below. Definitions are a mix of facts and our own use of the word. This is by no means a complete list, and is likely to evolve as our hike progresses.

Appalachian Trail A footpath that stretches 2,185.9 miles along the Eastern United States of America from Georgia to Maine.

AT An acronym for Appalachian Trail, and often seen in the form of a symbol with the bridge of the A acting as the top of the T as well. The AT symbol can be seen displayed in two photographs in the header of our page at the center and far right side.

Bear Bag This is not an offering we leave out for the bears, instead it contains all our belongings a bear might be enticed to eat that we hang from a tree to keep out of their reach overnight.

Bear Cables Often found near shelters, a wire cable system that uses a pulley to hang hikers bear bags. Because of the collection of people staying at the shelters this assures all are able to hang their bear enticing belongings without issue.

GSMNP An acronym for Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Maildrop This is a package a hiker either shipped to themselves or had someone off the trail ship them. Many businesses located near the trail will hold maildrop packages for thru-hikers, and there are multiple books and websites to determine which ones will accept packages on behalf of hikers.

‘Mama’ Alexis’ trail name. In the first weeks on the trail she worried, protected, and told Jack & Lewis they were handsome enough times to earn the title ‘Mama’.

Mount Katahdin The northernmost point on the Appalachian Trail located in the State of Maine at Baxter State Park. It is our goal to reach this point before the cold of Autumn moves in or snow begins to fall.

Nearo Referring to the mileage one hiked in a days time, a hybrid of the words nearly and zero. Often times thru-hikers will camp on the trail only a few miles away from a town so they can avoid the expense of a hotel, but take advantage of the services there the following day. For us, we usually consider anything under 7 or so miles hiked in a nearo.

NoBo Short for Northbound. A thru-hiker, or hiker in general, that is attempting the trail from South to North. Beginning at Springer Mountain in Georgia and ending at Mount Katahdin in Maine.

Privy Another name for an outhouse sometimes found along the trail. Most often they are located nearby shelters and are about as gross as you can imagine, but its better to have it collected in one place instead of scattered across the forest!

PUD’s An acronym for ‘Pointless Up & Downs’, in regard to the trail’s terrain.

Section Hiker Someone who has chosen only a portion of the Appalachian Trail to hike. Many people section hike the entire trail, covering all 2,185.9 miles over multiple hiking seasons, or even their lifetime.

Shelter A structure, most typically with three walls and a roof, that can be found every few miles along the entire length of the Appalachian Trail. Some thru-hikers stay in shelters almost exclusively, opting to save weight and avoid weather with tent camping. As you have likely read in some of our posts, we rarely have stayed in shelters thus far and much prefer our tent.

‘Shepherd’ Brent’s trail name after being seen often walking over meadows and hills with stick in hand and our own two sheep, Jack & Lewis at his side.

SoBo Short for Southbound. A thru-hiker, or hiker in general, that is attempting the trail from North to South. Beginning at Mount Katahdin in Maine and ending at Springer Mountain in Georgia.

Springer Mountain The southernmost point on the Appalachian Trail, located in Northeastern Georgia. This is where we started our journey north on March 27th, 2013.

Thru-Hiker Someone who is attempting to complete the trail, hike the entire distance between Springer Mountain and Mount Katahdin in one hiking season. Some would say a section hiker becomes a thru-hiker once they complete every single mile of the Appalachian Trail, despite how long it takes them. More often than not though a person will say “I thru-hiked in blank year”

Trail Magic This comes in all different forms, but in most cases it is food, drink, or transportation. People will randomly volunteer their time and resources to treat hikers to a special treat such as a cold soda, beer, or sweet treat. Those who supply the trail magic are often cases former thru-hikers themselves and know how much we miss the simple things while out on the trail.

Trail Name It’s tradition to take a new name while hiking the trail. Your trail name can be inspired by anything, and you can choose it for yourself or in many cases, receive a name from other hikers.

White Blaze A painted 6×2 inch marking found on trees, rocks, road signs, and more along the entire length of the Appalachian Trail in both the north and south directions telling us hikers we’re still on the right trail. We read once that their is roughly 165,000 white blazes painted along the trail. Some areas are more well marked than others, but it is pretty tough to get lost on the AT.

Zero Also referring to mileage one hiked in a days time, or in this case, did not hike. Zeros are necessary to rest the body, soak the feet, dry out the tent and often ourselves and all our belongings.

Did we miss something you’d like to see defined here? Just let us know in the comments below.

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