Alphabet Soup Hiking

Alphabet Soup Hiking.

It is my term for the trend to give every backpacking trip  an acronym. And to only hike routes if there is an acronym.


Common GIS stock photo

A week or two of hiking in the Sierra, the San Juans or any other range used to simply just be called a  “backpacking trip“.

Now it is the XYZ BINGO route.

But is not enough to simply go walking.

Everything has to be epic and exciting.

And I think it is part of the American culture.

To simply take a walk is lazy.

But to walk a route with a designated name and acronym?  It is a goal. Something worthy to achieve.  

An acronym pops. It is memorable. And exciting for many.   

I guess I started using the term Alphabet Soup Hiking because of the emphasis on the routes themselves. The emphasis is not really on the wild places the routes pass through.  And the emphasis is even more so on the lifestyle around them.

In the near future, I suspect I’ll do a shorter Alphabet Soup route.  These routes are often a great way to see a new place or experience a certain ecosystem.  The logistics are sometimes nice and simple, too. Everyone likes a relaxing vacation at times that does not need as much planning. Myself included.

But I’ll try not to be an Alphabet Soup Hiker. Hiking designated routes only with its limited skill set needed? Only HIKING if there is a catchy acronym associated with said route?

No thanks.

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Nick Gatel
Nick Gatel
7 years ago


7 years ago

Yes, going off trail takes skills and knowledge on the use of compass and how the topo maps lines up with its topography, and it takes an intelligent/instinctive awareness of limits. The next eager steps off trail bring out physical and mental challenges. No trails means using judgement to make your own path. This means getting dirty, and getting dirtier is the “bestest” clean fun. Here the treasures are sought and found. The beauty of colors, shapes, sounds (silence too is a sound) smells, and tastes that surround and fill the senses are the rewards. Being off trail is a… Read more »

7 years ago
Reply to  Paul Mags

Being on trails are cool; let’s live adventures. Agreed. ABC trails seem to be labels that tell who we are. Just like our visible decals, patches, and bumperstickers displayed that gives a personal nod to what matters at a time in our life. A friend just told me, “change makes life interesting” …because a person can be stuck in being different.

7 years ago

I agree with you, I don’t have a burning desire to do those ABC trails/routes. But (and it is a big but), HYOH not HMHDI, as long as it doesn’t impact me, I don’t care what others do 🙂

7 years ago

Sort of like climbing for a number grade rather than the beauty of a route and the rock.