This page provides an alphabetical listing of some of the basic hiking, backpacking, mountaineering, camping, and archaeological terms that one might encounter while preparing for an adventure in canyon country. The definitions on these pages are meant only as a beginning, a point from which to get familiar as quickly as possible with the jargon of the trail. Please do not consider these explanations as definitive nor comprehensive. There are outside resources listed and linked for more in-depth definitions.
Molten rock that is generated when temperatures rise and melting occurs in the mantle or crust of the Earth. Igneous rocks are formed when magma cools and consolidates.
A handheld stone, usually rectangular with rounded corners, used to grind food in a metate.
A compact mountain group consisting of several summits.
The fine-grained material that surrounds the larger crystals or particles in a porphyritic or sedimentary rock. Also, any material, such as clay or rock, in which a crystal, fossil, etc. is embedded.
Meal is generally considered to be more coarsely ground than flour, but can usually be used in the same way as flour.
A looping bend in a stream channel.
Mechanical thinning reduces the threat of an advancing wildland fire by reducing the vegetation (fuel) between a structure and the approaching fire.
A tableland; a flat-topped mountain or other elevation bounded on at least one side by a steep cliff; a plateau terminating on one or more sides in a steep cliff. Seen in many areas of the southwest.
Rock whose original textures or mineral components, or both, have been transformed to new texture and components as a result of high temperature, high pressure, or both.
A period of transformation from larval to adult form.
A stone trough used to grind food, usually corn (maze). The food is placed in a wide groove in the stone and crushed by the forward and backward motion of a handheld stone mano.
A group of soft silicate minerals that have perfect basal cleavage in one direction and can easily be split into characteristic thin, elastic, pearly sheets.
For sleeping bag shell material, a tightly woven polyester or nylon. Not as water-resistant as coatings or membranes, but lighter and less costly.
A refuse heap, particularly of a primitive habitation. A mound of debris and garbage, often black from charcoal fires and full of animal bones, pottery, broken stone tools, etc.
Pertaining to the center of the back.
Pertaining to the center of the belly.
A naturally occurring, inorganic, solid element or compound, with a definite composition or compositional range and a regular internal crystal structure.
That portion of the public lands that a miner acquires for mining purposes and holds in accordance with the mining laws.
Modified A-Frame Tent
This type of tent uses a center hoop pole, a ridge line pole, or curved sidewalls to create more interior space and structural stability than the standard A-frame tent.
A prehistoric culture that occupied much of eastern Arizona, western Texas, and southern New Mexico from about 300 B.C. to about A.D. 1450.
The shedding of the confining outer layer of the body (the cuticle, integument, or exoskeleton) to permit growth or metamorphic change.
Of one color.
A geologic structure, specifically a fold, in which the rock layers are horizontal, then inclined, then horizontal again. Examples are the Waterpocket Fold in Capitol Reef National Park and Comb Ridge in southeastern Utah.
Monos (Los Mono's)
Stylized male anthropomorphic figures commonly found in pictographs in Baja California.
In the Southwest, a seasonal outbreak of localized severe thunderstorms that deposit large quantities of rain often resulting in flash floods, especially in canyon country where there are narrow slot canyons and little vegetation to help absorb the sudden rush of water.
A cool, moist ecological zone usually located near the timberline and usually dominated by evergreen trees.
An accumulation of rock material on or around a glacier, derived from rock fall and from erosion of the valley sides by the glacier.
Similar to a metate, but the cavity in which food is placed is round instead of a straight groove. The food is ground in a circular motion with a handheld stone called a pestle. Mortar holes were also used to grind paint pigments, medicines, and pottery ingredients.
A design element used frequently or repeatedly.
Every vehicle which is self-propelled.
With tough fabrics, sturdy pole structures, and external guy points, these tents are built for the worst winter or mountain conditions. Most have large vestibules to store winter gear.
Any route involving dangerous terrain where technical skill and experience are required. Routes described as mountaineering scrambles should be attempted only by persons who have had some previous training such as a basic mountaineering or rock climbing course.
An irregular fracture in a crudely polygonal pattern, formed by the shrinkage of clay, silt, or mud in the course of drying.
A relatively level area of fine silt along a shore (as in a sheltered estuary) or around an island, alternately covered and uncovered by the tide, or covered by shallow water; a muddy tidal flat barren of vegetation.
A general term for a mass-movement landform and a process characterized by a flowing mass of predominantly fine-grained material mixed with water (mud).
Mush is usually made from meal and water, the amount of water depending on how thick a mush is desired. Mush is also prepared by mashing various plant parts in water.
A common form of hoodoo.
Million years ago.