In the spring of 1955, Emma Gatewood told her 11 children that she was going for a walk. What she didn’t tell them was that she planned to hike the entirety of the Appalachian Trail – by herself. By then, she was a 67-year-old great-grandmother, and had been planning the details of her adventure for quite some time.
Months before, a National Geographic article about the A.T. caught Gatewood’s eye in the waiting room of her doctor’s office. She particularly loved the line that read, “Planned for the enjoyment of anyone in normal good health, the Appalachian Trail doesn’t demand special skill or training to traverse.” That was all she needed to hear; she was hooked.
“Grandma Gatewood’s Walk,” by Ben Montgomery, details this gutsy little lady’s inspiring journey, having been the first woman to walk the 2,050-mile trail solo, not once, but three times. Later, as quite the celebrity, her criticism of shoddy trail maintenance gave the A.T. much-needed attention and likely saved it from the brink of extinction. Gatewood’s story is one of healing old wounds and achieving the impossible by mustering fierce determination and, quite simply, putting one foot in front of the other.
Keena KimmelOwner of White Rabbit Books and Curiosities