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We need your vote- “I am the Appalachian Trail”

23 Sep

Our 3 minute contest video was edited for the Appalachian Trail Conservancy “I am the Appalachian Trail” video contest. The ATC contest features many videos that share a personal view point about the hikers experience. We decided that we should enter Emma Gatewood, whose story has helped shape a generation of hikers trail experiences. We used some footage from our upcoming documentary “Trail Magic” to give Emma’s journal’s a voice. Please vote for our video (it is under Bette Lou Higgins name ) at For more information on our documentary and our current Ohio History match grant challenge please go to

On the trail with Grandma Gatewood

On the trail with Grandma Gatewood

the Eden Valley project page


“I am the Appalachian Trail”

16 Sep


“I am the Applachain Trail”
Video Contest
Grandma Gatewood entry!

We have entered the “I Am The Appalachian Trail” video contest on Facebook with a trailer for our upcoming PBS Documentary about Legendary Hiker Emma Gatewood. You can help us win by voting between September 16 and November 8, 2013. Just visit Facebook’s I Am The Appalachian Trail page and find the video with my name on it and Vote! Help us make a movie!


Bette Lou Higgins
Artistic Director
Eden Valley Enterprises

P.S.: Be sure to pass this along and ask your friends to vote and to like us on Facebook! grandma with garden hat

Get Some “Trail Magic”- True North August 22-25

14 Aug

Got to see a rehearsal of “Trail Magic” last night at TrueNorth and I’m sooo excited! Anne McEvoy is bringing Emma Gatewood to life and Kathie Dice is helping to tell the story wonderfully. Rick Fortney is doing a wonderful job helping them to re-create Emma’s life. It will be a great show — I can’t wait!

And don’t forget about all the other fun events that will be taking place between August 22 and 25th during the TRAIL MAGIC festival —

Kelly Boyer Sagert and T.M. Gottl will lead a Nature Poetry Workshop on Thursday night, August 22 at 7:30pm. Emma Gatewood loved to write poetry and now’s your chance to let your love of nature come out with these two experienced writers.

On Friday, August 23 there’ll be a family hike at 5pm with a dinner at 6:30 pm followed by a poetry reading at 7:30 pm with all the great poems created at Thursday’s workshop. (You can attend each event separately or join us for all of them!)

Saturday morning, August 24 at 10:30 seniors are being told to “Take A Hike” in Emma’s honor and enjoy some pastries and jam.

Saturday evening you’ll get to see Anne McEvoy and Kathie Dice for yourself when “Trail Magic” is presented at 5pm and 7:30pm. In between the two presentations, licensed social worker Natalie McCarthy will lead a discussion on self-esteem.

The festivities wind up Sunday at noon with a hike on the Lorain County section of the Buckeye Trail (which Emma helped to set up). Meet Byron Guy at the picnic pavilion by the Main Entrance to Findlay State Park on Rt. 58.

Registration is requested for all events and tickets are required for the “Trail Magic” performances on Saturday night.

Call (440) 949-5200 X 221 to register or purchase tickets. For complete information about the program visit

Join us there!

Looking forward to seeing you,
— ¡ Bette Lou ! —

Bette Lou Higgins
Artistic Director

Две женщины- Grandma Goes Global

30 Jul

It is amazing how Emma Gatewood inspires so many people. She ended up being featured in a blog from Russia by Sergey_Bp about a friend of his that is doing a long bike ride. Here is the link to that blog translated roughly into English by Google.

For those of you that read Russian, here is the original blog

В 1955 году Эмма Гейтвуд (Emma Rowena Gatewood более известная как Grandma Gatewood) прочитала в National Geographic статью о тяжелейшем пешем маршруте через Аппалачи (Appalachian Trail) – 3489 км. В статье говорилось, что только пять человек смогли пройти его за один сезон и что, разумеется, никакой женщине это не под силу. Эмме в это время было 68 лет, она уже была матерью одиннадцати детей, бабушкой двадцати трех и прабабушкой еще еще тридцати. Женщина решила, что это хорошая идея и пошла налегке. Она пошла в кедах и взяла с собой только армейское одеяло, плащ, пластиковые занавески для душа, аптечку, одну смену одежды и небольшой запа еды. Все. У нее не было карты, компаса, путеводителя, палатки, спальника и рюкзака. Ее рацион состоял из вяленой говядины, сыра и орехов. Остальную еду она находила в лесу.
Она похудела на 15 килограммов, ее размер обуви увеличился с 8C до 8D, но она прошла весь маршрут за 142 дня. (via)

В августе 2012 г. Юля в одиночку за 14 дней проехала 602 км на трехколесном велосипеде – на “нормальном” двухколесном она тогда и ездить-то не умела. Несколько дней назад я наконец-то познакомился с ней лично, на марафоне “Суседзи 2013”, в котором она участвовала вместе с сыном.

Эмма повторила свой маршрут через 5 лет. А потом еще раз, в 75 лет. Юля, спустя год, говорит, что очень многое поменялось в ее жизни. О ее планах я не расспрашивал.

Не смотря на все различия, мне почему-то кажется, что у этих двух женщин есть очень много общего.

“Trail Magic” in Pulse Magazine

23 Jun

Jeff Gallatin of PULSE magazine wrote a nice article about our TrueNorth “TRAIL MAGIC”

"Pulse Magazine"

“Pulse Magazine”

program about Emma Gatewood. You can find it at:

We have a cast! Trail Magic, the play, premieres August 24th

20 Jun

We now have a cast!

"Emma Gatewood"

Anne McEvoy as “Emma Gatewood” photo by Kaleb Grine

True North just called to say that Anne McEvoy was offered the part of Emma Gatewood and Kathie Dice was offered the part of the Narrator! Both of these ladies are wonderful and have done other historical programs. I’m sure they’ll both be wonderful in the parts!

“Trail Magic” — A Festival Dedicated to the life of Emma Gatewood

8 May

produced by Eden Valley Enterprises and TrueNorth Cultural Arts
at the French Creek Nature & Arts Center
4530 Colorado Ave.
Sheffield Village, OH 44054

Emma Gatewood was the first woman to solo thru-hike the Appalachian Trail in 1955.
Come join us for this celebration of her life!

Auditions “Trail Magic” a new play by Kelly Boyer Sagert

We’re looking for someone for the part of Emma Gatewood (age 70-ish) and for a Narrator (male or female; 50-ish). Please prepare a 1-2 minute monologue and be prepared to read from the script. The play will be directed by Rick Fortney. Schedule your audition slot by calling (440) 949-5200 Ext. 221. The performance is scheduled August 24th at 5p.m. and 7:30p.m.

The Complete TRAIL MAGIC schedule

5 -6 p.m. ~ Slip on your hiking boots and join us for a Family Hike with Senior Naturalist Amy Potonic

6:30 p.m. ~ Dinner is served!

7:30 p.m. ~ Poets in Thursday’s workshop will be invited to share their poetry at a public Poetry Reading.


10:30 a.m. ~ Senior Physical Fitness Hike.

5:00 p.m. ~ Premier presentation of “Trail Magic”, a first-person character program featuring “Grandma” Gatewood talking about her life and adventures.

6:30 p.m. ~ Pre-show Discussion on Mental Health & Self-Esteem (including domestic abuse), led by Natalie McCarthy, MSW, LSW.

7:30 p.m. ~ Encore presentation of “Trail Magic”, a first-person character program featuring “Grandma” Gatewood talking about her life and adventures.

SUNDAY, AUGUST 25, 2013, noon ~ Join Buckeye Trail Association member Byron Guy for hike on the Lorain County portion of the Buckeye Trail.

Call TrueNorth at (440) 949-5200 Ext. 221 or order online.

There will be an exhibit about The Buckeye Trail and a Quilt Show to honor Emma’s quilting activities during the weekend.

This festival is being funded in part by generous grants from the Women’s Fund of the Community Foundation Lorain County, Ohio History Fund, the Puffin Foundation of Teaneck, New Jersey and the Gallia County Charitable Foundation. It is part of a larger project to tell Emma’s story with FilmAffects and WGTE/PBS.

*** All dates, times and events are in the planning stages and are subject to change. Watch our Calendar Page for current information***

August 22-25
Join us on our Trail to tell Emma’ Story!

We are in the process of raising $15,000 to meet a challenge grant from the Ohio History Fund to complete a PBS documentary about Emma. You can help us meet this challenge with a tax-deductible donation.

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Lessons Yogi Bear Taught Us

14 Jan

Yogi: “Hey Boo Boo, I see a pic-a-nic basket.”

ImageBoo Boo: “Yogi the park ranger does not want us bothering the humans”

Yogi: “We’re not bothering them, we’re entertaining them”.

On our trip to Mt. Katahdin last fall we had a chance to meet up with Bruce Grant, from MATC. In the course of our conversation he mentioned that he was friends with a retired park ranger who knew Grandma Gatewood. He explained that this park ranger believed that Emma was not only a great “Yogi practitioner” , but perhaps was the “Grandmother” of all trail “Yogi-ing”.

The concept of “Yogi-ing” on the trail was new to me. So I asked him to explain. He went on and told us that this was a technique for getting or motivating others to help you, without directly asking for it. Food, clothing, money, car rides, you name it. The key is to act innocent and slightly helpless, at least enough to get what you need when you are out of resources.

As the conversation above between Yogi and Boo-boo points out sometimes entertainment is the best way to get this kind of help. I was recently talking with “Fink” a south bound through-hiker from 2011. He told us his yogi story.

It seems that “Fink” and his friend were out of food and hungry. They had set up camp in the Shenandoah National Park. They were not far from a spot where day hikers and picnickers would come on nice days. So he and his friend decided to hang out and “share” their stories. In fact they shared them several times over the next couple of days being rewarded with hot meals and snacks for their great story telling. This is a sublime example of the art of “Yogi’.

Grandma Gatewood’s journal is filled with stories of others helping her. While she may not have documented her technique, she appears to be truly gifted in getting others to help her to accomplish her journey. Sometimes the best trail magic is being a good “yogi”.

Katahdin’s Trail Magic

8 Oct

We just got back from a shoot in Millenocket Maine and Baxter State Park this past week. The weather was decent, the fall foliage was spectacular, and the people at the park could not have been nicer. We set out to connect with the through hikers coming in across the Hundred Mile Wilderness. We met about a dozen all enjoying Maine’s most beautiful quilt of color at the end of a six month journey. They looked a little worm down but jubilant none the less.

While we were there a hiker went missing while summiting Katahdin. It reminded us that Emma Gatewood also went missing when she first came to Baxter to start her trek. Back then many traills were across privately owned yet to forested lands. Often the trail would be marked and obvious one month and then the trees would get harvested and there would be no clear evidence of the trail anywhere. On her first attempts Emma was in one of these areas bounded by what is know as the “Golden Road” where timber is trucked out daily that crosses the AT near Rainbow Lake. Today the AMC, State of Maine, The Maine Appalachian Trail Club and the AT Conservancy work hard to make sure that the trail remains accessible and well marked regardless of the season or changes in private land usage. That was not always the case in the 50’s and 60’s before the National Scenic Trail Act of 1968.

Luckily for the the lady who went missing this year, trail markings were not the issue, she was heading up to the top of Katahdin too late in the day. It got dark and she got lost and ended up bushwhacking her way out. Thankfully she showed up a day late. Her adventure, like Emma’s points out how difficult a place this can be. Being there we got a greater appreciation for her ability to survive and succeed, especially in 1955. But when you see the park you realize that there is “trail magic” here. People you don’t know or may never meet again will go out of there way to help you.

What Emma’s life and home looked like

11 May

Two weeks ago writer/producer Bette Lou Higgins and I had the pleasure of meeting Emma Gatewood’s grand-daughter Marjorie Wood down in Gallipolis, on the Ohio River. Not only did Marjorie have an amazing archive of Emma things including the famous red beret, but many of her trail diaries, press clippings, original photos, even 8mm movies.  But most importantly Marjorie also had many personal childhood stories to share. We could have spent a week just reading through the diaries and photo archives. There was a letter from Groucho Marx, a cable gram from Art Linkletter, the original 1955 Sports Illustrated article, but what made the weekend special was the personal tour given to us by Marjorie of the places where Emma lived and raised her family. We saw Crown City, Thurman, even where the trailer park she owned and ran once stood (now owned by AEP and next to a coal fired power plant). Most importantly we saw the house Emma was living in when her husband finally left for good. The house is still owned by a family relative, an 86 year old professor( retired).  Then we saw where Marjorie and her husband had moved a very old log cabin up a winding “holler”. This really gave us a sense of what early childhood must have looked and felt like for Emma as well. In the coming weeks we will be posting pictures and videos for you to watch and review. We will want your feedback as we process the footage and sound bites. This is a very exciting projects and one that will give “voice” to Emma and her personal trail hike from the hollers of Appalachia to the bright lights of Hollywood.