"I thought it would be a nice lark. It wasn't."
March 8, 2017 10:30 AM   Subscribe

In 1955, at the age of 67, Emma "Grandma" Gatewood told her children she was going for walk. Then, wearing her Keds sneakers and carrying an army blanket in a homemade denim bag slung over her shoulder, she became the first woman to thru-hike* the Appalachian Trail. (TW: domestic abuse)

In 1960, she hiked the trail again, becoming the first (male or female) to thru-hike it twice. In 1963, she did it again, this time in sections, the first person to hike the trail three times.

Bonus:
Wiki: Emma "Grandma" Gatewood.
Trailer for the documentary film Trail Magic: The Grandma Gatewood story

*Thru-hike: To hike the trail from end to end in a single season.
posted by bondcliff (8 comments total) 27 users marked this as a favorite
 
Strong woman. (And when her husband beat the shit out of her, the deputy arrested her, blood and broken bones and all?!? Thank goodness some things have changed, at least a little.)
posted by easily confused at 11:32 AM on March 8


Gatewood is one of my all-time heroes. Through-hiking the AT *today* is a huge undertaking, even with first-class shoes and equipment and mailing food ahead to yourself; the whole thing is pretty well mapped out in any number of books and magazines. You'd still have to *do* it, which is huge work, but it's pretty well mapped out.

Gatewood just did it on her own. Because she wanted to. Because she was super-cool. Because she is a hero, straight to her core.

Gatewood was a marvel.
posted by dancestoblue at 11:33 AM on March 8 [12 favorites]


Strong woman. (And when her husband beat the shit out of her, the deputy arrested her, blood and broken bones and all?!? Thank goodness some things have changed, at least a little.)
Not to derail but ... this has not really changed. This still happens, and it happens a lot more often than we would like to believe.

“She was alone, she was free,” said Higgins. “She didn’t have to answer to anyone.”
Amen, hell yes, surviving and escaping abuse are the hardest things. And then you don't have to answer to anyone. "Because I wanted to," indeed. I really appreciated this article; thanks.
posted by sockermom at 11:50 AM on March 8 [9 favorites]


What a goddess.
posted by Grandysaur at 12:56 PM on March 8 [1 favorite]


I'm not surprised. There is no one as strong as a domestic violence survivor.
posted by MexicanYenta at 4:44 PM on March 8 [2 favorites]


I had not heard of her before you posted this, so thanks! This was one exceptional woman, and I'm glad I got to learn about someone doing awesome things because she wanted do. Why not, indeed.
posted by PearlRose at 6:44 AM on March 10 [2 favorites]


What a role model. Just one tough lady.

I hope the deputy who arrested her developed herpes, fleas, worms, and jock itch and slowly rotted.
posted by BlueHorse at 3:02 PM on March 10


She must have been so much happier on the trail, just in a haven.
posted by wenestvedt at 12:03 PM on April 4


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