How to Speak AT (Appalachian Trail) Lingo With Sleeper and His Tramily

What’s your trail name? Who’s in you’re tramily? Mules Brick, Cracker and I had a damn amusing encounter with some hikers on the AT (Appalachian Trail) this week. Meet Sleeper, Jimmy Dean, The Bard and Badger. They’re going to teach you the lingo you’re going need to sling if you ever hike the AT.

Sleeper, Jimmy Dean, The Bard and Badger hangin’ with Cracker (Scales Camp, Grayson Highlands, Virginia, Virginia Highlands Horse Trail)

AT Lingo With Sleeper, Jimmy Dean, The Bard and Badger

This week, my mules, Brick, Cracker, and I made a cool discovery on our mule ramble along the Virginia Highlands Horse Trail. We’d traveled from Elk Garden up the Scales trail to the Scales Camp on the top of Grayson Highlands. There, I ran into the most mixed-up-looking group of folks I’ve ever encountered on a mule ramble. There was a hippie-looking twenty-year-old in a tye-dyed t-shirt camped next to wrinkly Boomer wearing a knee brace. There was a guy in a giant black Jeep that cost a year’s salary camped next to a girl named Iris from Switzerland camped in a tent that cost less than the cover for the Jeep’s spare tire. And then there was me, a dude with a hammock traveling with my two long-eared compadres.

I got to visiting with these folks, and when I introduced myself, the conversation went like this.

To a pretty girl doing stretches in the grass:
“Hi, I’m Bernie Harberts.”
“Hi, I’m Pickle Bird.”

To a skinny sixty-something-year-old man rubbing his knee:
“Hi, I’m Bernie Harberts.”
“Hi, I’m Sits a Lot.”

To a guy walking to the toilet block:
“Hi, I’m Bernie Harberts.”
“Hi, I’m Badger.”

Yes, these are all the real names they gave me.

Badger had black hair and a mustache, and we struck up a conversation. Badger, he said, was his trail name. He explained that he’d hiked the Appalachian Trail a few years ago with some friends and was hanging out with his tramily on Grayson Highlands for the weekend.


I liked Badger. A little while later, I ran into him again, sitting in front of a tent with three other guys. I’d been intrigued by what he’d said about his family. I’d never heard of a tramily, so I asked him if he and his buddies would explain what that was. And while they were at it, could they give me a crash course in AT lingo? I sensed a tramily had something to do with hiking the AT.

The first moment I set eyes on Badger (standing) and his tramily

Badger and his friends said that would be cool, so they walked over with me to where I was camped with my mules, Brick and Cracker. There names were Sleeper, Jimmy Dean, The Bard and Badger, who I’ve already introduced.

They were so striking-looking that I asked to make portrait photos of them. Here they are.

Jimmy Dean
The Bard

We chatted a bit, and then I fired up my recorder and made this magical recording explaining AT lingo.

Are You a Platinum Blazer?

Does a zero make you feel like a slacker? Are you a platinum blazer or a pink blazer? Click on the audio player to find out. Note: this is a field recording right off my recorder which means it’s totally unedited, from the dead spaces to the unexpected totally delightful appearance of Mile2Go (see photos below).


Thanks Badger, Jimmy Dean, Sleeper and the Bard for the lovely conversation. I love you guys’ spirit and wish you all the best going up the trail and beyond. We need more of your kind and kindness.

Mile2Go, who you heard speaking in the audio recording above

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