Diana Reese is a writer and blogger for the Washington Post and contributor to “She the People”. She just posted a great article about Grandma Gatewood that you should read.
By Diana Reese January 5 at 2:12 PM
She The People
Grandma Gatewood survived domestic violence to walk the Appalachian Trail alone at 67
Even now, six decades later, Emma Gatewood’s story still resonates.
Grandma Gatewood, as she became known, was the first woman to hike the entire 2,050 miles of the Appalachian Trail by herself in 1955. She was 67 years old at the time, a mother of 11 and grandmother of 23. She’d survived more than 30 years of marriage to a brutal husband who beat her repeatedly.
Gatewood hiked the trail carrying a homemade knapsack and wearing ordinary sneakers — she wore out six pairs of them in 146 days from May to September. She brought a blanket and a plastic shower curtain to protect her from the elements, but she didn’t bother with a sleeping bag, a tent, a compass or even a map, instead relying on the hospitality of strangers along the way and her own independent resourcefulness. She’d sleep in a front porch swing, under a picnic table or on a bed of leaves when necessary, and she ate canned Vienna sausages, raisins and peanuts plus greens she found on the trail and meals offered by strangers.
To get the rest of the story click on the link
Grandma Gatewood’s Walk by Ben Montgomery
Ben Montgomery’s book about Grandma has just won the 2014 Outdoor Book Award — I think that means Emma won it , too! Read all about it at
Appalachian Trail tale tops 2014 Outdoor Book Awards
OUTDOOR READING — They call her Grandma Gatewood. She carries an umbrella, wears a checked skirt, and she loves to hike.
In fact, she is the first woman to hike the entire Appalachian Trail. After her first 2,000-mile hike, she did it again, becoming the first person – man or woman – to hike it twice. And then for good measure, she hiked it a third time.
Grandma Gatewood is the subject of a new book which is one of the award recipients of the 2014 National Outdoor Book Awards, announced today.
We are happy to announce that the Puffin Foundation West has awarded us a grant in support of our documentary about Grandma Gatewood! This gift will go towards the matching requirements from our Ohio History Fund grant and puts us at about the half way point of our goal of $10,000.
We have been working on filming the documentary over the past year and if you haven’t visited our Trail Magic Facebook page recently, please do. Director, Peter Huston has been posting updated from the shoots which I think you’ll enjoy seeing.
In other news, I hope you’ll plan to join us in Akron for TRAIL MAGIC at Wandering Aesthetics on Friday and Saturday, November 21 and 22,2014 at 8 p.m. and on Sunday, November 23, 2014 at 2 p.m. There’ll be three performances of this one-act play about Grandma along with a Trail Angels Reception Fundraiser on Sunday. Check our calendar page regularly for up-to-the-minute information.
Bette Lou Higgins
Sharon Hall, a friend of our “Trail Magic” script writer Kelly Boyer Sagert let us know about this great blog site that features her story about Emma Gatewood.
Check out Sharon’s article about Emma Gatewood at http://historydepot.wordpress.com/2014/09/12/feisty-females-grandma-gatewood-part-i Enjoy!
We were pleasantly surprised and pleased to see that a story about Emma Gatewood and a clip from our project were on the Smoky Mountain Blog here is an excerpt:
Who was Grandma Gatewood?
In 1955, after raising 11 children, Emma “Grandma” Gatewood became the first woman to solo thru-hike the Appalachian Trail – at the tender age of 67! In September of that year, having survived a rattlesnake strike, two hurricanes, and a run-in with gangsters from Harlem, she stood atop Maine’s Mount Katahdin.
Then, in 1960, she hiked it again, becoming the first person to hike the Appalachian Trail twice. And, just to prove those first two weren’t a fluke, she hiked it again in 1963 – at the age of 75! After that third adventure Emma became the first person to hike the 2,179-mile trail on three different occasions.
To read the rest and see the clip go to
Anne as Emma Gatewood
A special thanks to Anne McEvoy who was able to bring her “Emma” again on our shoot at Historic Lyme Village this past week. DP Tom Whaley of TW Teleproductions provided the talent and gear to capture Emma telling her story once again. Anne’s on-camera persona of Emma is key to our story. We also want to thank Ray Parker, director of Historic Lyme Village. We utilized several period correct buildings to be our sets in this shoot. We will be posting some great out takes later this week.
Our “Trail Magic” documentary on the life of Emma “Grandma” Gatewood has reached a rough cut stage. We are shooting the last re-enactment dialog scenes next week with our wonderful actress Anne McEvoy. If you are an Appalachian Trail hiker or interested in how Emma changed her life after 32 years of domestic abuse get in touch with us at facebook.com/grandmagatewood where we have a link now to https://fundrazr.com/campaigns/8p327 that allows you to make a donation to our non-profit partner Eden Valley Enterprises to help defray the costs for production of this important story. We are posting regular updates here and facebook. Thank you!
Nearing the Half way point
Grandma Gatewood’s Walk by Ben Montgomery
Ben Montgomery is a writer and journalist working at the Tampa Bay Times. Emma Gatewood was his great-great Aunt. We have followed many of the same trails as Ben as we work on completing the documentary on Emma Gatewood called “Trail Magic”. Emma’s walk not only made her a momentary celebrity, it also focused an emerging post war nation on successful aging, the growth of the AT and the amazing kindness of strangers that continues today. Emma Gatewood’s story begins and ends in Ohio. Her love of nature and perseverance through life’s trials and tribulations are skills we should study, admire and extol. We hope Ben’s book and our film help spark new interest and discussion about the AT, Buckeye Trail (Ohio), domestic violence awareness, and making change in your life. Let’s hope women (and men) everywhere are inspired to hike a new trail in life.
Ben’s new book arrives in the book store shelves in early April. You can order one today at http://amzn.com/1613747187
To read more about Ben’s book go to the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard’s Nieman Storyboard
Trail Magic- The hospitality of strangers along the trail from Peter Huston on Vimeo.
Emma Gatewood traveled light, was highly self sufficient, and made friends out of strangers were ever she was. This short story included in the live presentation is the essence of what “Trail Magic” is all about. Many of Emma’s hiking stories on the AT and Oregon trail are included in our films script. If you have a Trail Magic story, please share it with us. We want to include as many as we can our the documentary. Send me a comment here on the blog, or on twitter @grandmagatewood, or email at firstname.lastname@example.org