Glossary of Hiking Terms
Opuntia bigelovi: Teddy bears point the way to Peak 2881, with the Mazatzals in the background.
alluvial fan
alluvia, in the form of rocks and gravel washed down from a mountain, spread out in the shape of a fan at the base of the mountain.
a deep desert wash with steep sides.
to climb to the top of [a mountain peak].
coalescing alluvial fans form a smooth slope at the base of a mountain. When you hike across them, bajadas aren’t as smooth as they look.
bail out
to climb down from the side of a mountain. Bailing out is possible when you aren’t cliffed out.
when the trail divides into two or more trails which come together again after a short distance.
to hike off trail. Bushwhacking often involves walking through prickly vegetation.
butt slide
to slide down the rocks, as on a slide in a children’s playground. Control your speed and avoid sliding into or over cactus.
a stack of three or more rocks, used to mark a hiking route.
the crater formed when a volcano collapses into its magma chamber.
a small tree of the acacia family, Acacia greggii, armed with sharp little thorns which snag.
cliffed out
you want to climb down the mountain, but find yourself on the top of a cliff. So you have to bail out somewhere else.
to make your way around a peak instead of climbing it. O.K. if the slope is reasonable and you have good footing.
a route where the hike leader has never been before. Unless you are a leader, you’d be surprised how many hikes are exploratory.
a large section of rock in between faults but not containing faults.
a plant community of fungus and algae, growing on the surface of the rocks. Lichens grow in many bright colors.
an extrusive volcanic rock composed of fine-grained feldspar, mica and quartz.
a smooth dip in the ridge between two peaks, with the ground sloping upward toward the peaks but downward on the other two sides.
to use your hands as well as your feet in climbing. It’s wise to wear gloves when the hike includes boulder scrambling.
a solid rock surface to walk on. Dry slickrock isn’t slick. When the slope is moderate, slickrock is your best hiking surface.
to be the last hiker in the group. A hike leader often sweeps when the home stretch of the hike is on trail.
to zigzag up the side of the mountain instead of going straight up. If you are on a trail with switchbacks, stay on the trail.
Teddy bear
the most prickly cactus of all, Opuntia bigelovi. Cute and furry from a distance. When the branches jump, hikers become unwilling participants in the plant’s propagation scheme.
volcanic ash that has solidified into rock.
tired enough for the hike to be over, but you have miles to go. Walk slowly, stopping to rest when necessary.
a stream that is usually dry.

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updated November 27, 2016 © Copyright 2016, by Ted Tenny.  All rights reserved.