Brian Vaughan's Appalachian Trail Thru-Hike

Phone calls from the Trail Maine

08/05/98 - Stratton, ME. Only 187.8 miles to go. Anyone on the ATML mailing list at Trailplace knows that I was panic stricken when I hadn't heard from him since July 24th. I had sent only 8 days worth of food in the last mail drop, and I knew towns are a long way off the trail in this area. Cliff called the post office in the morning to see if Brian had picked up his mail drop yet, and he hadn't, so when Brian came in later in the day, the postmaster told him to "phone home," which he did. Brian met up with some "slackpackers" who were hiking to a road crossing each day and getting shuttled back to Gorham at night to sleep. He went back with them one night, which saved him from hiking or hitching out a long way to a town to resupply. His brief response when I asked what took so long was "it was a long way and we went slow." No kidding! He did a few 4 to 5 mile days, and said that the Mahoosic Notch section was "fun!" Funny, he said the same thing about the rocks in PA! He said it was great "playing around" on the boulders. He's been swimming several times, and the weather has been good. The logan bread was a hit, also. Unfortunately, the cap came off the plastic squeeze bottle of honey I sent, and he said ants were floating around in it but he scooped them out and took it anyway.(ugh)

The hikers he's been with have gone ahead to do some canoeing, so Brian is alone at present. He's hoping to meet up with them again in Monson, so they'll be together for the 100 mile wilderness and Katahdin. Someone told him about a well paying job working on a pipeline in Maine/NH, and he's thinking about doing that for the two weeks between the end of the hike and the beginning of school. I gave the "politically correct" response - do whatever you want - but I think that physically and emotionally it would be better for him to come home and spend some time unwinding before starting at UMass.

I finally got up the courage to tell Brian that Cliff and I had switched bedrooms with him in his absence ( he knew we were considering this before he left ) - and I didn't want him to find out when he got home. For all my anxiety, it wasn't a problem.

08/09/98 - MONSON!!! The last mail drop, only 117.8 miles left. I am so proud and excited for him. This is an observation, not a criticism of any other thruhiker's decisions, but Brian has been a purist throughout this entire hike. Even when his friends went ahead and left him alone, he kept on hiking the AT, because that's what he set out to do. Brian's been hiking alone since Stratton, meeting southbounders and other hikers in the shelters at night. The first night out of Stratton there was a canoe at the shelter so Brian took it out across the pond so he could tell his friends he went canoeing too. He's done some swimming, and once saw a moose in the water (far away) while he was swimming. The weather's been so hot he's slept in just the bivy sack, no sleeping bag. He met up with ObeWan, his dog Midge, Gandhi, and Billy Goat at Shaw's hostel in Monson. Tomorrow he picks up the mail drop, and then they'll start hiking the 100 mile wilderness. He ran into an Outward Bound group today, and the instructor asked him if he had any backpacking tips. Brian was absolutely amazed, but the instructor said Brian probably had more experience than he did. He finished Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance and now he's reading "Dharma Bums." The group hopes to reach Katahdin on August 17th. Stay posted!

08/17/98 - Well, he did it! He climbed Katahdin today... He and his friends ascended VERY EARLY hoping to catch the sun rise, but it ended up being obscured by fog. The hike is over, and I am so happy for Brian that he did what he set out to accomplish. Brian descended Knife's Edge on Katahdin, and is staying in a hostel with some other hiker's.

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This page is being maintained by Brian's mother who will be updating and adding pictures as soon as Brian sends them.

For more information about Brian and his thruhike, you can email his mom at or his stepfather at
Last revised January 10, 1999.