Walking terms from 'trek' to 'bushwhack'

May 5, 2004
Outside Magazine
Week of April 24-30, 1997
Walking terms from 'trek' to 'bushwhack'
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Walking terms from 'trek' to 'bushwhack'
Question: Can you tell me the difference between walking, hiking, trekking, and bush walking? I think there are other terms; do you know them? Basically, all of these emphasize walking, but your expertise is needed to iron out my confusion.

Michael Escober
[email protected]

Adventure Adviser: My favorite term, not mentioned in your list, is bushwhacking (not bush walking), which means to literally whack your way through the bush without a trail. The Webster's definition of bushwhacking mentions, "chopping down bushes and small branches," but you don't have to resort to such guerrilla tactics as you blaze through the bush looking for excitement and adventure.

I asked Mountain Travel-Sobek the subtleties between walking, hiking, trekking, and bush walking, and צ because they answer this question on a daily basis צ it was no problem for them to rattle off the differences. Here's the scoop:

Walking, the easiest of all pursuits, can be done over any type of terrain, but the term is generally used for less rigorous exercise, as in, "a walk in the park." Walking usually implies you are based out of one spot and will finish your trip in one day, rather than keep your gear with you and move from base camp to base camp.

Hiking, virtually the same as walking, implies you are covering more rugged terrain, generally on a path through wilderness. Hiking also suggests you are doing day trips only and will not spend the night in the wild. But as you probably know, most people in Colorado hike or backpack; you never hear of "trekkers" in the Collegiate Range.

Trekking I always assumed was reserved for pursuits in the Himalayas, but it actually means you go from point to point, moving camp as you go. Trekking and backpacking are nearly the same thing, however, you'd probably tend to use the word trekking to describe traveling in mountain areas not in the United States.

Bush walking, as the word implies, simply means, "walking through the bush." Because most Americans associate the bush with Africa and Australia, the word is usually used to describe adventures in one of those two countries, however, it's a popular term in Alaska as well.

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