To blue-blaze is to skip a section of the white-blazed AT by walking an alternative route.
Common reasons for blue-blazing:
- Avoiding hazardous conditions
- Taking a scenic route to see a waterfall or overlook
- Taking a shortcut to save time
- Roadwalking on smoother terrain (especially common when the AT intersects the Blue Ridge Parkway in middle Virginia and Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park)
- To take the road less traveled (particularly on the Benton McKaye Trail in the Smoky Mountains)
- For convenience when walking in and out of town or an off-trail shelter
- Getting lost
Example: “I accidentally blue-blazed in New York and didn’t know it until the next day, when I intersected the AT again.”
Fun Fact: A “blaze” is a trail marker painted on a tree, rock, etc. The AT is marked with white blazes and most side trails branching off of it are marked with blue blazes (although any color can be used).
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