Brian Vaughan's Appalachian Trail Thru-Hike

A Visit with the Parents June 16 - 20 and travels in Massachusetts

06/16/98 - Finally, after almost four months, the moment I've been waiting for. Unfortunately, Cliff and I developed car trouble on the Mass Pike on the way to the Berkshires to meet Brian, but I was so intent on seeing him that I told Cliff that we'd rent a car if we had to. Luckily, we got the car going, and were in South Egrement Post Office at around 11:00 am. I thought Brian would be there early, but no such luck. We drove around for awhile looking for where the trail intersected a road crossing, but didn't have any luck. Our plan was to meet at noon, so Cliff and I left to find a motel room ( one next to the Ford dealer). When we came back, there he was! We hugged each other, and Cliff rolled a big piece of plastic over the back seat before he got in the car. Don't laugh, he was muddy, wet, and extremely odoriferous. He said the hike into South Egremont "sucked" because the whole trail had been a six inch deep river. I had brought bags of food for snacking, and Brian immediately drank some juice, and opened the Pringle's, ate an apple, a banana, and some Little Debbie's. We took him back to the motel room so he could have a lengthy shower and change into "real" clothes. Brian said the cotton "felt weird". We bagged up the laundry and left to have lunch.

After dropping off a roll of film to be developed (we weren't there long enough to get the photos on disk so I still have to try and scan them in) we found a restaurant in Great Barrington. My formerly picky eater ordered a salad(!) and a tuna sandwich. While we were sitting there a couple walked by and waved to Brian, then came in to say "hi". They were Heidi and John, also known as Dharma Bum and Yoon(??? - Norwegian for John) who had gotten off the trail for a few days to get out of the downpours. They were on their way to see The Truman Show at the local theatre. My 18 year old son used an expression he'd never used before when he described them as "a committed couple".

After lunch we found a local outfitter, Appalachian Mountain Gear. When we walked in, the owner, Rick Donovan looked up and said to Brian "thruhiker, right?" I was shocked! Here we had showered him, fed him, and dressed him in regular clothes - but Rick said he recognized the beard and the look on his face. Rick should know, he's a former thruhiker himself, and has extensive outdoor experience. Brian picked up a new (smaller) fuel bottle for his stove, and a few other small items he needed.

That night, I was glad that we'd decided to share a motel room to save money (if he can spend nights sleeping in shelters with total strangers, he can spend a few nights sleeping in a room with his parents!). We ordered pizza delivered, and had time to just chat normally. People have said to me that being on the trail would help Brian mature, but I was still surprised by some of the things he said. It really has been the experience he and all his family and friends hoped it would be. His new favorite expression, which I love, its "it's all good". Unfortunately, it's easier to admire Brian from afar than it is up close and personal. His method of dumping out his pack all over the place must [not] have won him friends. Maybe Cliff was right, I should have insisted on a better level of cleanliness in his room when he was growing up.

On Wednesday, we did a few errands and drove to Westfield, Mass, to Cobbler Shop Shoes. I thought Brian wanted to have his boots resoled preventatively, but they were falling apart. The resoling cost $36.00, and the people there were terrific. We dropped the boots off on Wednesday, and picked them up on Friday.

After going to the cobbler, we dropped Brian off at UMass Amherst for two days of orientation. Cliff and I had all day Thursday to walk around Northampton, a beautiful town. We prepared ourselves for the worst when we picked him up on Friday - assuming his reaction would be that the whole process had been a total waste of time. Wrong again! He liked orientation - except for having no time to sleep. He picked his preferred dorm location, chose a course schedule, and met a few people in his intended major (computer studies). We drove back to Great Barrington and found a room at a really wonderful motel, Monument Mountain Motel (tel # (413)528-3272). It had an outdoor pool, and beautiful gardens and bird feeders outside.

Saturday morning we took Brian for a big meal at Friendly's and then did a few more errands. He had no problem finding the spot on the side of the road where he'd left the trail in South Egremont. We took pictures, Brian shouldered his pack, and walked away. That was hard. But in probably about two more months, he'll be home again, hogging the computer, messing up his room, and generally driving us crazy.

06/24/98 - Brian called today from Dalton. He took one whole day off the trail to play chess in a shelter for ten hours with Obewan(sp??). He said the nine miles he hiked after he left us were the worst of the hike, after being off the trail for four days. We discussed the next mail drops, and they are:

due approx. 7/3/98
Brian Vaughan
c/o General Delivery
Killington, VT 05751

due approx. 7/10/98
Brian Vaughan
c/o General Delivery
Glencliff, N.H. 03238

Brian, the great communicator, also said something truly shocking. He said "hiking is good". I said that I was glad he thought so, since he'd been doing it for four months and had two more to go. Then he explained that he meant that he'd never looked forward to starting school before, and now he was really excited about it, and hoped that meant he would do well.

06/27/98 - Brian called from North Adams, the Bascom Lodge. He said that he'd taken another day off, and was planning on taking the rest of the trip fairly slowly, about 11 miles per day with a few days off, so that he would finish on August 23, six months after he started. I'm glad that he called, because news reports from Vermont report significant flash flooding occured there yesterday. Cliff thinks the reason Brian is slowing down is because he doesn't want the trip to end, and he knows the end is in sight.

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 June 28, 1998.