Lesson 1497 – Grandma Gatewood’s Walk

I mentioned this book on my Facebook page but I also want to let my blog readers know about it.

I recently had (yet) another birthday (don’t ask) and as per my request I got several books (is there really any other gift to give me?) As I’m still getting over this coughing crud, I had plenty of time to sit and read. (I can think of no better medicine.)

grandmaOne book in particular looked interesting and so I picked it up and started reading.

I was still reading at 11:00 at night when I finally coughed myself to sleep.

And then I got up the next morning to read some more.

The book – Grandma Gatewood’s Walk – the inspiring story of the woman who saved the Appalachian Trail – written by Ben Montgomery, is the story of Emma Gatewood, a 67 year old mother of 11, grandmother of 23 who, in 1955, decided to walk the entire length of the Appalachian trail starting in Georgia and ending in Maine.

Emma had spent most of her life in an abusive marriage where her husband would routinely beat her to the point of injury. Broken ribs, cracked teeth, bloody head – when her kids were finally old enough, she stood up to her husband and was granted a divorce.

After years of working jobs and taking care of relatives, it was an article in the National Geographic magazine about the Appalachian trail that got her attention. The article stated that the trail was “planned for the enjoyment of anyone on normal good health” and “doesn’t demand special skill or training to traverse.”

Emma, who had always gotten comfort from walking in the woods decided she was going to walk the entire trail. She got in shape by taking 10 mile walks every day. She made a cloth sack into which she carried some extra clothes, food and a few other things she felt she’d need and wearing her Keds which were cut on the sides to allow room for her bunions, one fine morning she set out.

The book details her journey. How she foraged for food in the woods (her plant knowledge is impressive), how she asked people if she could sleep on porches, and how on cold nights she warmed rocks in the fire and then slept with them next to her body.

During her journey she twisted her knee, sprained her ankle, broke her glasses, got lost, encountered dangerous rattle snakes, and wore through 6 pairs of sneakers – and yet she persevered, gaining the attention of the press and countless followers around the country.

Grandma Gatewood’s Walk is an inspiring story of an older woman who made the decision to get up and “just do it.” If you think you don’t have it in you to accomplish your dream, think again.

I told Marc that when I got older I wanted to be just like Grandma Gatewood to which he replied “Well, you sort of are already.”

High praise indeed, but I still have miles to go before I sleep.

I highly recommend this book. Just do us all a favor and don’t wait until you’ve gotten sick to read it.



Wendy Thomas writes about the lessons learned while raising children and chickens in New Hampshire. Contact her at Wendy@SimpleThrift.com

Also, join me on Facebook to find out more about the flock (children and chickens) and see some pretty funny chicken jokes, photos of tiny houses, and even a recipe or two.

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1 Comment

Filed under Personal, Recipes, Teaching kids, The Family

One response to “Lesson 1497 – Grandma Gatewood’s Walk

  1. Dear Ms. Thomas,
    You are so right — this is a great book and Emma is a real inspiration! You might be interested in learning more about her life. FilmAffects and Eden Valley have been documenting her life recently and have completed a storytelling program, a play and a documentary about her. You can get more information at http://www.edenvalleyenterprises.org/progdesc/gatewood/gtwdinf.htm

    Keep hiking!

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