Grandma Gatewood, The First Woman To Hike the AT

GrandmaI was planning on sharing a link about thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail with Gadling’s readers today. However, as I was reading Get Outdoors’ blog, I found something far, far more interesting about the AT: the story of Grandma Gatewood.

The first woman to hike the AT solo, Grandma Gatewood conquered the 2175-mile Trail in 1955 at age 67. An unofficial pioneer of the Ultralight movement, Grandma tackled the Trail wearing Keds, carrying an army blanket, a raincoat, one change of clothes, and a plastic shower curtain that she used for shelter — all of which she toted in a homemade denim bag slung over one shoulder.

She hiked the AT once more in 1960 — making her the first person to hike the Trail twice — and then in 1963, she hiked it a third time — making her the first person to hike the Trail three times.

Why did this mother of 11 and grandmother of 23 want to hike the AT? In a comment reminiscent of George Mallory, she claimed she wanted to do it because she “thought it would be a nice lark.” Guess what? “It wasn’t.” Today, there’s a section of lark-free trail named for her.

I wish I were as tough as Grandma Gatewood.