Day 20: The Story of Little John

Started: Tent Site (230.9)

Ended: Mission Camp (239.9)

Total: 9.0 miles

We woke up at 4 a.m. with a plan to hike until the last good water source at Mission Camp. Both Fishtank and I do not have enough food to make it to the normal Big Bear exit at mile 266.

We both have enough food to last two more days, but we don’t have enough calories to do a big push.

We hiked in the dark, trying to follow the trail as best as we can. The Mission Creek area switches between gravel and marsh. As we advanced, I became tangled in some brush. I tripped over a log. I felt something jab me in the stomach, so I rolled hard.

It turns out that the log had a large branch sticking out that was quite sharp. Had I not rolled, I could have been impaled. Fishtank was very concerned. I brushed it off a bit, but in this case, it was nearly a nasty accident.

After the sun came up we ran into John from Alabama. He is 50 years old and started two weeks before us. He is struggling, badly.

We hiked through a burned out section of the trail. At one time this was a beautiful section, but now it is a wasteland of dead trees, rocks and charcoal. We stopped at was we thought was the last water hole at 238.7.

There Fishtank and I discussed how we were going to get out of this mess. Neither one of us had phone reception, but he did have a satellite pager. John from Alabama had extra food.

So, we developed a plan. Fishtank contacted a local trail angel. They told us we could bail at mile 250 and get to Big Bear. With that, our food problems were solved. Turns out that this is a very common problem.

Fishtank and I discussed in detail how to avoid getting into this problem in the future. We must change how we eat.

My biggest issue about the heat is that I get thirsty. When I drink, my stomach is full, therefore I don’t eat. I could bore you with how the body transfers calories, but your liver stores reserves. It will pass it on to where it is needed, but once it is used up, it needs calories. While I have plenty of fat on me, it takes time to convert it to energy and backpacking burns calories faster than fat is converted. Therefore, I hit the wall.

Getting to town, resting a day, properly resupplying and eating is what we will do and will consider this a learning lesson.

After things cooled off, we advanced to a nice campsite. As we started to set up camp, all these other hikers started coming up. Many we thought we in front of us. Most were out of food. Turns out that what we thought was a failure on our part was a common problem even to hikers half our age.

We ate our last meals. Tomorrow we strike out for mile 250.

5 thoughts on “Day 20: The Story of Little John

  1. Glad to hear you have a plan. Interesting that this is a common problem. What do you recommend (what would you have done differently)? I think your last resupply was in Idllywild; how many days of food did you pack, and how many do you think you SHOULD have packed? I’m just curious and thinking others might find that info useful too! Thanks, great blog.


    • We have been packing food based upon the average hiker. We are slightly slower than the average hiker, which is okay because we’re older than the average hiker. What we are doing now is focusing more on the energy needs than the focus on losing weight. I hope I better answered your question in my next blog post about resupply.


  2. Hi JP (Young Buck), This is Buff sitting in air conditioning home in Phoenix, but wishing I was out on the PCT, till I read this section of the trail. I will plan on doing this much earlier in season next yr. You are doing a great job & glad you have a hiking partner at this time. Curious of 2 things as the novel continues. 1. What happen to John, did you just leave him knowing he had enough food? 2. How did Fishtank get trail angels #. This will help me for my future hike. Thanks keep postinig!


    • Buff, a hiker never leaves anothet hiker either emotionally or physically distressed behind. We have brought Little John with us. We have done a shakedown. We have helped him resupply, and he is welcome to hike with us moving forward. Little John’s story is a tragedy about being abandoned by a family member who was hiking with him at the start. Fishtank is a former police officer, and has a large network of friends. The trail angel who helped us contacted him months before the hike began. There are Facebook groups for trail angels to help you when you do your hike.


      • Thanks for up date! There’s nothing like trail family! But the novel kept me dangling. Keep up the journaling.


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