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A beginner's glossary to hiking and camping

cairn, hiking glossary

Photo: Kerry Banazek/Shutterstock

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From acclimate to cat hole


acclimate — period of time required for the body to adjust to altitude and trail conditions.

AT — Appalachian Trail, a long distance footpath extending 2,178 miles from Georgia to Maine.


backcountry — an isolated geographic area with few paved roads or maintained buildings and erratic or nonexistent cellphone coverage.

bivouac — a temporary or makeshift shelter meant to protect hikers from inclement weather.


cache — to store or stow away food and supplies intended for future use.

cairn — a manmade pile of stones used as a navigational aide in locations with little to no vegetation.

cat hole — a 6- to 8-inch-deep hole to poop into, dug off-trail and out of sight, at least 50 yards from the nearest water source.