Freelance BDN hiking columnist Brad Viles dies at 63

As a freelance hiking writer for the Bangor Daily News for more than a decade, Brad Viles produced hundreds of pieces that took readers on jaunts along trails that led to some of his favorite wild places.

On Sunday, Viles died in Millinocket. He was 63.

His last story for the BDN, which offered tips that would help others improve their outdoor photography during the winter months, appeared the same weekend.

Brad Viles (right) with BDN sports editor Joe McLaughlin during a 2008 hike up Mount Katahdin

Viles — a quirky, talkative man who often ended emails to BDN editors by referring to himself as  “B-Rad” — lived to hike, and loved to tell people about those hikes.

A Brewer High grad who also attended Husson College, he successfully thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail and wrote a book called “Dreaming the Appalachian Trail, a Backpacking Novel.”

A volunteer for the Maine Appalachian Trail Club, Viles proudly maintained a 2.2-mile section of the AT that began on the top of Pleasant Pond Mountain in Caratunk.

And last year, he realized a dream when he opened his own seasonal hiking and camping equipment store — Maine Woods Gear — in Millinocket.

I spoke with Viles last Wednesday. We chatted briefly and discussed the story he had submitted for publication. No issues, I told him. Then he told me what he’d be working on for this week’s piece.

It never arrived.

That’s the thought I’m left with today.

I never physically traveled to most of the places Viles visited. But three times a month for the past several years, I’ve been able to vicariously take those journeys.

This week, I won’t.

I’ll miss that.

And I know readers will, too.

#30# B-Rad.




John Holyoke

About John Holyoke

John Holyoke has been enjoying himself in Maine's great outdoors since he was a kid. Today, he's the Outdoors editor for the BDN, a job that allows him to meet up with Maine outdoors enthusiasts in their natural habitat. The stories he gathers provide fodder for his columns, and this blog.