Today's thru-hikers, more often than not, equip themselves with technical backpacks, along with light-weight tents, sleeping bags and stoves. But one of the first A.T. thru-hikers didn't have any of that equipment. She just started walking with a knapsack, a blanket and a shower curtain.
Emma Rowena Gatewood, known as "Grandma Gatewood," was an American ultra-light hiking pioneer. After a difficult life as a farm wife, mother of eleven children, and victim of domestic violence, she became famous as the first solo female thru-hiker of the 2,168-mile Appalachian Trail in 1955 at the age of 67. The media coverage surrounding her feat was credited for generating interest in maintaining the A.T. and in hiking generally.
To quote a Washington Post article: "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."
Actress Anne Van Curen will be joining us at the festival to bring Emma Gatewood to life in a performance for all ages. Van Curen transforms into "Grandma" Gatewood to describe what it was like to be the first woman to solo hike the Appalachian Trail in 1955. The dramatization is based on the book Grandma Gatewood's Walk, written based on accounts of Gatewood's surviving family members, newspaper magazine articles and her own diaries and trail journals.
Round Hill Outdoors: Join us in bringing together local friends and family to unplug and get outside. Let’s discover our amazing backyards — from national treasures like the Appalachian Trail to new local and regional parks.