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Hiking the Appalachian Trail

“Hiking the Appalachian Trail” is a euphemism for a politician who claims to be doing one thing but in reality went to meet with his mistress.

The term was coined after South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford (R) went missing in 2009, claiming that he was hiking the Appalachian Trail when in reality he was in Argentina with his mistress. It was a bizarre cover up that only drew more attention to the scandal.

The Columbia State explains:

Republican Gov. Mark Sanford said he was hiking the Appalachian Trail. But for six days in June 2009, no one – not even family and staff members – really knew where he was.

Sanford finally resurfaced on June 24. And, acting on a tip that The State newspaper had received, political reporter Gina Smith was at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport waiting for Sanford when he got off a flight from Buenos Aires.

Sanford told Smith that he had been in Argentina. And, at a televised news conference later that day, he admitted he admitted an extramarital affair.

From the Wall Street Journal:

Mr. Sanford’s rambling statement and apology, made during a news conference in the lobby of the Civil War-era State House, capped an increasingly bizarre sequence of events that had transfixed the nation. The governor’s disappearance had stoked broad speculation and concern, with his staff and wife providing several different accounts of his whereabouts…

Mr. Sanford talked of God, his faith and his family, issuing vague mea culpas before solving the mystery. “I’ve been unfaithful to my wife,” he told the throng of reporters, adding that he had spent the past five days “crying in Argentina.”

Use of “Hiking the Appalachian Trail” in a sentence

  • When Governor Mark Sanford mysteriously disappeared in 2009, his staff covered up by saying he was “hiking the Appalachian Trail,” a phrase that later became synonymous with political scandal due to the revelation of Sanford’s extramarital affair in Argentina.
  • The phrase “hiking the Appalachian Trail” took on a new, sordid meaning in political circles, illustrating how a seemingly innocuous phrase could be used to mask a scandalous reality.
  • As news broke of Sanford’s actual whereabouts, the term “hiking the Appalachian Trail” morphed into a euphemism for deceptive behavior among politicians, forever etched in the annals of political folklore for its association with one of the more salacious scandals of the time.