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
Thanks to Steve Fogarty of the Elyria Chronicle Telegram who wrote a nice follow up article about our TRAIL MAGIC documentary project. You can read it at: http://edenvalleyenterprises.org/progdesc/gatewood/prgrmcmmnts/fogartyect10172014.pdf
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
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
This past June we witnessed one of the interesting rites of passage that thru-hikers partake in at the half way point on the Appalachian Trail. Sitting on the front porch of the little store at Pine Furnace State Park in Pennsylvania, the “Half Gallon Challenge” becomes an informal race among the thru-hikers to devour a lot of ice cream in one sitting. For most just finishing the half gallon is an accomplishment. No one seems to know when it originated, but I would bet that in Emma’s day ice cream was still such a luxury that she would have been truly amazed by this present day ice cream feast. Check out this short video that captures the fun of the challenge!
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
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 email@example.com
Emma Gatewood was probably the inventor or at least one of the earliest adopters of “Ultralight” back backing. Her life skills and years of commonsense applications, we would say now “adaptive technology” made her hikes possible with a minimum of gear.
She thoughtfully preplanned the equipment, food and minimum support materials for each of her hikes. Here is a clip that talks about what she brought.
To help promote our project we have set up @grandmagatewood for twitter friends.Emma was a communicator, letter writer and journal keeper. I think tweeting would have been like writing a postcard in Emma’s day. If you have a twitter account I hope you will help us and follow @grandmagatewood and we’ll follow you back!