Brian Vaughan's Appalachian Trail Thru-Hike

Phone calls from the Trail Southwest Virginia

04/03/98 - When Brian called tonight from Damascus, Virginia, he had just hiked a 26.3 mile day. (and he kept reminding me to mention the .3) He has now hiked 453.1 miles from the top of Springer Mountain. Tomorrow will be a busy day, picking up mail drop early (Saturday) then going to the library to check out the web site and email - the library closes at noon. Bought new shorts with coolmax lining, and sent back old ones today. Also bought lighter weight stakes for bivy sack. Saw a deer on the trail - it stood and watched him for a moment, then ran off into the woods. A few minutes later, three more deer ran across the trail, following the first one. He's also seen 4 snakes so far.

04/10/98 - Had a long conversation from Atkins, VA today. Had to settle many "housekeeping" issues, like financial aid and scholarship applications. Yesterday Brian stopped at a pay phone in Mt. Rogers State Park and called in an order for delivery of a salad, pork sandwich, ham and cheese sub, and fudge cake! He ran into a fellow hiker who told him that he could find whole powdered milk at Adventure Foods, and said that she would send him some at Pearisburg. (If not I will order some later) The whole milk would be great to add more calories to the food he is eating, and we have been unable to locate it around here in Massachusetts.

He was surprised at how many people have offered him help, or a phone number. He was especially surprised when he ran into a day or section hike who said "Are you Brian?" because he's seen this web site! Brian still doesn't have a trail name - maybe because he hasn't been with a group to help him decide on one. Groover and Zeb are still about a day ahead, and he'd like to catch up with them.

Before Brian left on his great adventure, I forced the family to watch (several times) a video I bought from the Adventurous Traveler Bookstore on hiking the trail - the one that was on PBS's Trailside series. One scene showed a hiker in a field with small ponies - it was amazing! And Brian said that's where he is now, he has seen lots of ponies. It's just incredible.

More discussion about a dehydrator. A fellow hiker told him that frozen veggies could be used to make it easier (I have no time to cut up vegetables). His latest mail drops I've been sending Just Veggies that I ordered from REI. Maybe I can get one... Another hiker suggested dehydrating raviolis and making a kind of fruit roll up from spaghetti sauce for the trail. Sounds interesting. And I got an email from someone who told me about a dehydrator at Walmart for $15 that will make beef jerky from hamburg. A friend (to change subjects) told me about an article in Better Homes and Gardens that was an army study in which a group of soldiers before embarking on a long hike split into two groups. One rubbed alcohol on their feet, and the other put antiperspirant on their feet. The group that used antiperspirant got half as many blisters!

03/16/98 - Pearisburg, VA approx. 615 miles!! The mail drop today was just astounding, I guess - it took three trips to bring out all the boxes! I sent his 20 degree bag [which he sent BACK again, because it weighed more than the zero degree down bag!], a mail drop, a box with a camera Brian asked me to purchase and send, and seven layer bars. His friend Kevin sent HOMEMADE chocolate chip cookies which were making him very popular, another hiker sent whole milk powder from Backpacker Pantry, and he received a huge bag of beef jerky and some Cliff bars from people he has never met! He was thrilled!

I TRIED to get information about the trail today, but Brian wanted to talk about hiking the PCT! My suggestion was to stay in the moment... anyway, all I know is he's sleeping later than he'd like, but enjoying the hiking. He'll catch up with Zeb at a shelter tonight.

On this visit to town, ate a 12 inch roast beef sub, a six inch tuna sub, a six inch chicken sub, two Mounds bars, a chocolate chip cookie, and a slush. The next maildrop is in Waynesboro... which is about 226 miles away. He'll call again when he goes into town to resupply. He definitely prefers to hike with less food and resupply more often than to carry large quantities of food. I was surprised to learn he doesn't like Ramen noodles [he ate them at home!?]. So, the standard mail drop now contains: