My Trail Story by The Purple People
Trail names: The Purple People
Jillian Ivey: Gully
Logan Ivey: Mudslide
John Muir Trail NOBO August 2018
Appalachian Trail NOBO 2019 (Current)
Photo provided by Jillian Ivey
My name is Jillian and I am currently hiking the Appalachian Trail with my partner and bandmate, Logan. Together we are known as the Purple People. We just started thru-hiking in 2018 and fell in love with it and the hiking community. We are also in a band together called The Mailboxes. So we are playing music for fellow hikers on the trail. One of our dreams is to be Triple Crowners!
One of our favorite thru-hiking stories to tell is about our second to last day on the John Muir Trail. It was our first thru-hike and we decided to eat meal bars for lunch and dinner. This was a big mistake. After a few days I didn’t want to see another meal bar ever again. The JMT doesn’t have many resupply points where you can switch out food. Logan expected we’d be so hungry we would eat anything. But turns out I’m still picky even when starving. Now that I’m on my second thru-hike I know variety is key when it comes to food on a thru-hike.
To get the variety we craved we relied on other hikers giving us food they didn’t want anymore. This was surprisingly often. We were hiking northbound on the JMT. We started at Mt. Whitney and ended in Yosemite. Most hikers hike the John Muir Trail SOBO, so at the beginning of our hike they were at the end of theirs. Most hikers had extra food they didn’t want to carry anymore. Despite the gifts of other hikers we had a real bad case of hiker “hanger”. It impacted Logan a lot by the end of our trip. We both lost a considerable amount of weight for an 18 day hike.
Photo by Jillian Ivey
The Purple People Eat
The closer we got to Yosemite the more opportunities we had to go to restaurants and resupply points. The Purple People were hungry. On our second to last day, Logan noticed on our FarOut app that there was a restaurant coming up. It was located in Tuolomne Meadows. We had been taking it pretty slow and easy all day. It was a relatively flat stretch compared to most days on the JMT. We went over our last pass of the whole trail that morning. Because of this we were on track to finish in Yosemite the next day.
Fifteen miles into our day, Logan asked me if I wanted to go to this restaurant he saw was coming up on FarOut. At first I hesitated. I asked if it was far off trail. I didn’t want to get off track since we were close to finishing the hike. Logan looked at me and replied, “IT’S A RESTAURANT.” As if to say he didn’t care because real food sounded too good to pass up. After remembering how hangry I was, I finally was on board.
Town food did sound pretty amazing. But I asked him to check what time it closed to make sure we would make it in time. He looked at the FarOut app which told us the restaurant closed at 6pm. It was five and a half miles away. I checked the clock and saw it was already 4:30pm!, we would have to book it to make it on time. We looked at each other and then just started running.
Cheered us on
We were passing other hikers who I’m sure we’re confused why thru-hikers with enormous packs we’re running as fast as they could. Some knew the restaurant was coming up and cheered us on. It was mostly crazy because only 16 days prior, five miles was a hard day for me. Now I had just hiked 15 miles and was about to run five and a half miles to a restaurant. It’s amazing what you can do when you have something you really want in front of you. In our case the dangling carrot was a hot meal!
Thankfully most of the hike wasn’t too steep. We hustled and hustled until we finally got to a road that was supposed to take us to the restaurant. We asked a park ranger where the restaurant was because we were a little lost on where to go next. She said it was a short walk up the road. So we started to walk on the road in the direction she pointed. We kept going but saw no restaurant in sight. The park ranger even passed us on the road in her truck after we’d been walking a few minutes. We were sad and maybe a little bitter that she didn’t just give us a hitch in the back of her truck.
Photo provided by Jillian Ivey
We were tired and time was running out. I was worried we were lost and was feeling desperate for town food. We got off the main road to a gravel road that Logan thought was the right way. We kept going for what felt like forever on that road. I was exhausted and the gap between Logan and I was widening. As a result I yelled out to him pathetically “Where are we?!” to which he responded in his hangriest voice “I DON’T F***ING KNOW.”
I was feeling pathetic, and I could tell Logan was stressed and concerned about us making it on time. I wanted to burst into tears, but I knew we wouldn’t get there if I didn’t pick up pace. So I started running again to catch up. We were just going to have to keep going. This was the most upset and defeated we had felt thus far on the trail. But we pushed through until we finally saw what we were so desperately looking for up ahead.
We walked grumpily to the restaurant we saw down the road. We were both in horrible moods and dragged our bodies inside the tiny restaurant that looked like it used to be a gas station. I’m sure we looked totally drained of life to the woman who took our order. We had made it with only 15 minutes until closing time. So I’m sure she was anxious for us to order so she could close up shop. We ordered two veggie burgers, veggie chili, fries, and two soft serve ice cream cones from the counter. There were no chairs, just a bar you could stand up at to eat, so once they gave me my ice cream. I sank down and sat on the concrete floor trying to remember what it meant to be human.
The Food Arrived
With each bite it felt like life was coming back into my body. The rest of our food arrived and it was so delicious, especially compared to what we had been eating on trail. I have never enjoyed a meal more in my life. I went from feeling like crying to complete joy in a matter of minutes. All over a veggie burger. We ate all our food then even went next door to the general store and bought snacks there and ate those too. I laughed at how upset we were just a few minutes before. We were so glad we had made it on time. Hiker hunger is so real and on the AT we’ve definitely learned to indulge. We now bring all the yummy treats and foods on trail. We are proud to say after three months on the AT we haven’t lost any weight. I haven’t eaten a single meal bar. I’ll never forget that day and what it taught me about how far my body can go when it wants to and how good a warm meal is after a long hike.
Related Trail Guide
The John Muir Trail runs for over 210 miles through the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range of California. It starts in Yosemite Valley and travels to the summit of Mt. Whitney. The JMT is one of the most popular hiking trails in the country and is an incredible adventure for thru-hikers, section-hikers, and day-hikers. It passes through beautiful and scenic protected areas including Yosemite National Park, Sequoia National Park, Kings Canyon National Park, and two national forests. By all means check out our interactive JMT map today!