March 17, 2017
One unique part of hiking the Appalachian Trail is the vocabulary that has blossomed in this trail culture. “Thru-hiker”, “town day”, “taking a zero”, “hiker funk” – all are descriptors of certain phenomena common to the trail.
Since the trail is marked with painted white rectangles, “white blazing” refers to hiking the AT. Blue painted rectangles mark side trails to water, to shelters, to viewpoints. Thus, “blue blazing” pertains to hiking off the AT, for short necessary side trips or sometimes for longer detours, but still hiking. “Yellow blazing” happens when a hiker leaves the trail and takes a car, referring to the yellow lines on roads. “Pink blazing” occurs when a hiker with a romantic interest in another hiker begins matching his/her hike schedule with the other hiker.
So, this week Jay and I have been helping my parents sort while we wait for the weather to turn reasonable. Tuesday we took some donations from my parents to the church camp where I spent my childhood. After emptying the car, we were given permission to hike on the camp grounds. “Let’s go see the falls,” I suggested eagerly.
The trail through the woods had been improved from my childhood memories. Instead of climbing over boulders, walking straight up (and through) the creek, there were stairs and leafy tread to walk upon. And the trail was marked with orange blazes!
“I wonder what orange blazes would signify on the AT?” I asked Jay. “Maybe it should stand for visiting family, or seeing old childhood haunts.”
“Maybe,” Jay laughed, “orange blazing would be when you stay so long at one place, people start asking, ‘Orange you back on the trail yet?’ or ‘Orange you finished eating yet?'”
Well, whatever orange blazing stands for, I was very glad to share the falls with Jay, remembering flower hikes with my parents, adventure hikes with my sister, and just enjoying being in the moment, appreciating the beauty of this winter hike.