Have you ever dreamed of thru-hiking the 2,168 mile Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine, or from Maine to Georgia? Would you spend months preparing? Most people do. They take classes, buy the best and lightest equipment and train to get into top physical shape. They mail food boxes to destination points along the way and sometimes hike with partners.
But what if you didn’t do all that? What if you made a denim sack and filled it with an army blanket, a rain cape and a shower curtain? What if you laced up your Ked sneakers and told your kids you were going on a walk?
Emma was born in 1887 in rural southern Ohio. She married a school teacher, but he injured her repeatedly with his abuse. She had eleven children with him and all she knew was hard work. In 1950, she read about the Appalachian Trail in National Geographic and the idea of hiking the trail caught her fancy. She wanted to do something for herself. In 1955 she packed her small kit and left. She was 67 years old. She became a celebrity before she had finished the trail. She hiked the AT again in 1960, and then again at age 75 in 1963, making her the first person to hike the trail three times.
Granny Gatewood also hiked 2,000 miles of the Oregon Trail and traveled to all 48 states. She made her mark on Ohio, too, and led hikes at Old Man’s Cave until her death at age 85. Her involvement with hiking saved the Appalachian Trail by spotlighting how it should be improved, maintained and promoted. I encourage you to read the splendid story of Granny Gatewood. Granny Gatgewood’s Walk has over 1,000 positive reviews and readers have admired her grit, determination, and ability to dream and persevere.
After you read her inspirational story, you may want to take a hike. If you aren’t ready for the Appalachian Trail, look for some trails near you. I am fortunate to live near Summit County in Northeast Ohio. Every fall, the County Metropark system sponsors a fall Hiking Spree, from September 1, to November 30. Hikers must complete at least eight of the designated trails. First-year hikers earn a hiking staff and shield. Veteran hikers earn the shield. This is the fifty-third year for the Hiking Spree and it has become a great family tradition of fun in our area.
Thank you Granny Gatewood and happy trails!
I am a writer, blogger, book reviewer, and bon vivant and encourager. I have lived my entire life in Tropical Ohio. My goal is to make friends with everyone in the world. I am writing a fiction series, The Golden Age of Charli, that presents the problems and praises, and the love and laughter of family life and retirement.
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