A Tale of Two Biscuits: A Culinary Journey on the PCT

It was the best of biscuits, it was the worst of biscuits …

Always a vegetarian?

Ten years a vegetarian (pescatarian to be more accurate), I had made the conscious choice before my PCT hike to temporarily suspend my vegetarianism. Being a little older (52), I wanted to make sure that I was not going to create unnecessary challenges for myself getting calories or protein.

I’m vegetarian for primarily environmental reasons, so jumping back in to the world of meat wasn’t going to present any major issues. I was actually excited to try some of the things I hadn’t had in awhile:  a burger, a hot dog … biscuits and gravy.

I didn’t have a planned meat-eating jump off point. While eating one of my first meaty meals, a Harley Davidson at Paradise Valley Cafe, my pal Surefoot dubbed me “20 Miles”. I had told him my story of being vegetarian and abandoning it during my PCT hike.

Jumping into the meat fray

Lake Moreno is at the 20 mile mark of the PCT. Getting into the Oak Shores Malt Shop, I had no specific plan to start eating meat there, but the biscuits and gravy on the menu beckoned to me. The opening meat salvo had been fired.

Admittedly, they weren’t great. The gravy was a bit runny, the sausage was sparse. But, it was good enough and I was hooked. The defining menu item of my hike had been established. It had taken only 20 miles for me to discard my beliefs, hence the moniker “20 Miles”.

By this time, I had already gotten the trail name “Clockwork”. My wife, an Iowa born and bred meat and potatoes type, still prefers “20 Miles” to “Clockwork”. She thinks it’s hilarious.

What town food item drives you? What do you find yourself talking about the most. And thru-hikers talk about food ALL the time.

As the trail has progressed, I have become near obsessive about seeking out biscuits and gravy in each town. My trail family has even taken to scouting out breakfast restaurants, eliminating those who do not meet the B & G bar set.

And I have been rewarded by some awesome stick-to-your-ribs goodness. Biscuits and gravy are the perfect delivery vehicle for those things thru-hikers need:  calories, fat, carbs.

Best of the best

Some highlights:  Evergreen Cafe in Wrightwood, Jack’s Restaurant in Bishop, the Kopper Kettle in Chester

and maybe the best, Country Benedict at JJ’s in Old Station, CA. Biscuits and gravy, hash browns, sausage, and eggs, piled together. A 1000+ calorie monument to all that is good.

Obviously biscuits and gravy are not the only meat item I’ve been eating. I’ve had many good burgers, a nice Philly steak and cheese in Burney, some great pizza in Tahoe, a brisket sandwich at Skout in Ashland, Oregon. But it always comes back to the biscuits and gravy.

I’ll be ready, at trail’s end, to resume my vegetarianism. I certainly don’t want to intimate that you can’t make being a vegetarian on trail work. I’ve seen many of my fellow hikers doing it successfully. But, with me not sending any resupply packages from home, my options would have been limited. And I can’t lie, I’ve enjoyed my reprieve.

Trail food is fine, and serves a vital purpose. But, to keep one’s sanity and have something to look forward to, we need to have those comfort items that soothe us. Biscuits and gravy are filling and remind me of growing up in Iowa.  A little bit of home makes you feel a little less like the transient that you actually are, at least temporarily. What town food item reminds you of home?


Affiliate Disclosure

This website contains affiliate links, which means The Trek may receive a percentage of any product or service you purchase using the links in the articles or advertisements. The buyer pays the same price as they would otherwise, and your purchase helps to support The Trek's ongoing goal to serve you quality backpacking advice and information. Thanks for your support!

To learn more, please visit the About This Site page.

Comments 6

  • Dave Carl : Aug 5th

    Hi Lance, Good to see you are doing well. Being just across the border in Wisconsin I also like those Midwestern dishes. We miss you here and hope you continue to have a great hike. Wish I could be there with you and with my camera of course. I envy you all the sights you must be seeing. Take care Buddy, Dave

    • Lance Goehring : Aug 5th

      Thanks, Dave! Good to hear from you.

  • Robin Clark : Aug 5th

    Myself a meat eating person, I respect your “normal” vegetarian diet. I think we all can learn a lot from being mindful when we can, but also knowing our limit depending on our situation. Enjoy your food on the trail, it gives you something to look forward to and fuels you for the mileage you need.

    • Robin Clark : Aug 5th

      By normal I mean in normal everyday life being a vegetarian

      • Lance Goehring : Aug 5th

        I appreciate your comments, Robin. Looking forward to what I’m going to eat in the next town really has fueled me. Plus, the day after particularly large meals, I invariably have extra energy.


What Do You Think?