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Trail Magic, The Grandma Gatewood Story

grandmagatewoodEmma “Grandma” Gatewood’s story speaks to the courageous spirit of Appalachian people everywhere. Emma Caldwell was born around 1887 at Raccoon Creek in Gallia County, Ohio; she was one of 15 children. When she was 19 years old she married Perry Clayton Gatewood, a teacher and a produce farmer. When she read about the Appalachian Trail in National Geographic she discovered that no woman had ever hiked the trail alone from one end to the other. It sounded like a challenge to her. Never mind that she was 66 years old, never mind that she had no real equipment, never mind that she had no experience. Emma set off on the barely marked trail from Mount Katahdin, Maine. She didn’t make it the first time. She set off again the following year (1955) with an “aluminum blanket” (like the astronauts used), an old army blanket, sneakers, and extra dress and undergarments, hose, house slippers, bullion cubes, dried fruits, raisins and nuts, a water bottle and an emergency kit. This time she managed to go the entire 2,170 miles becoming the first person to solo walk the entire Appalachian Trail in a single season! Emma, became known to the public as “Grandma” Gatewood, and because a cause celeb across America. Her story raised the veil on several cultural barriers of the day, including age and sex discrimination.

8:00 PM Thursday 12/22 on MiND TV 35.1