Brian Vaughan's Appalachian Trail Thru-Hike

Phone calls from the Trail Shenandoah National Park - Northern Virginia - West Virginia - Maryland

05/07/98 - Brian called today from somewhere at a pay phone in the Shenandoah's. He sounds pretty down right now (but denies it vehemently). I told him he reminded me of when he was small and would scream "I'm not tired!" when I told him he was overtired and needed to go to bed. We talked (actually I talked) about discouragement being part of the experience. He still says he won't quit, however! Being ahead of the rest of the hikers is taking its toll, I think, as is the looming deadline of finishing up in time to start school. Luckily classes don't start until September 7th, so when I told him that it seemed to help a bit.

Anyway, he and Zeb got $50 tickets from park rangers for camping too close to the road. He said "road", not "trail", but I'm not exactly sure which he meant. I guess he got a late start, and because he said the shelters aren't spaced as well as in some other areas, he would have had to hike another 20 miles at 7PM to get to the next one. So he and Zeb found a water source, Zeb had pitched his tent, and Brian was sitting at a picnic table eating, when the ranger spotted them.

Brian says the hiking now is pretty flat. There are lots of deer, because hunting is banned, and most of them are scrawny and sickly looking. He said they don't even run when they see people. There are a lot of day hikers and visitors, and Skyline Drive crosses the trail 28 times in the Shenandoah's.

The new lighter pack is working out well. I'm fixing a mail drop with lots of snack type food in it for Harper's Ferry since he's mailing the stove back.

05/11/98 - Linden, VA Well, a mother's worst nightmare is to hear that her child is sick, and that's what happened. I guess Brian was up all night vomiting, and he felt the need to call and let me know. [why couldn't he have just let me know AFTER the fact??] Anyway, he bought some Sprite, and some crackers, and some Tylenol. He was feeling pretty lousy, but planned to hike about 5 miles (slowly) to the next shelter. I would have insisted on him going to a motel, but he said there weren't any, and that Zeb would be at the next shelter.

05/14/98 - Harper's Ferry, W. VA Feeling much better, thank God! Took a day off and actually did tourist stuff like checking out the Civil War Museum. Said it was a pretty, interesting town. Zeb is getting off the trail here, his allergies have given him serious problems. Brian said that the night he was up sick, Zeb was up all night coughing. He couldn't help reminding Zeb that Zeb had told him at the beginning of the trip that hiking would help his immune system!

Decided not to do the "Maryland Challenge" which was a great relief to me!

To Contents Page

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.