Grandma Gatewood

Grandma Gatewood

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Grandma Gatewood

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Emma Rowena Gatewood, better known as Grandma Gatewood (October 25, 1887–June 4, 1973), was an extreme hiker and ultra-light hiking pioneer who was the first woman to hike the Appalachian Trail from Mount Oglethorpe in Georgia to Mount Katahdin in Maine solo, and in one season.

Family life

Gatewood was born in Guyan Township, Gallia County, Ohio. She was a farmer's wife who had eleven children and 24 grandchildren, thirty great-grandchildren, and one great-great-grandchild living at the time of her death at 85.


Gatewood hiked the Appalachian Trail in 1955 at the age of 67, wearing Keds sneakers and carrying an army blanket, a raincoat, and a plastic shower curtain which she carried in a homemade bag slung over one shoulder, thus making her a pioneer of Ultralight backpacking. Local newspapers picked up on her story, leading to a profile in Sports Illustrated when she had reached Connecticut and an appearance on the Today Show.

She had read about it in a National Geographic Magazine. "I thought it would be a nice lark," she said, adding "It wasn't." Another time she complained "For some fool reason, they always lead you right up over the biggest rock to the top of the biggest mountain they can find."<ref...
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