Emma Gatewood, better known in the United States as "Grandma Gatewood", is a brave American woman who managed to become the first woman to single-handedly walk the famous Appalachian trail, becoming a national hero. And, no less surprising, she recovered on the hardest hiking route 3, 489 km long, lying through 14 states and inaccessible mountain ranges, at the age of 67. It took Grandma Gatewood 142 days to overcome the thorny path from Mount Oglethorpe in Georgia to Mount Catadin in Maine. The American woman did not stop there and repeated her feat twice more, because hiking has become an integral part of her life.
Emma Gatewood hails from Galia County, Ohio, where she married a farmer. But, unfortunately, this marriage was extremely unhappy - from the first days of life together, her husband beat her, often inflicting rather serious injuries, almost incompatible with life. Emma's jaw, ribs, and teeth were repeatedly broken, causing her severe pain. When she didn't have the strength to endure the bullying, she fled to the forest, where she spent some time alone, finding the long-awaited peace. Of course, the woman dreamed of divorcing her husband, but he regularly threatened her with a psychiatric clinic. Ultimately, Emma conquered her fear - she managed to get a divorce, although in those days it was an incredibly difficult procedure. During her life, Grandmother Gatewood became a mother to 11 children, a grandmother to 24 grandchildren, and a great-grandmother to 30 great-grandchildren.
In 1950, Emma became interested in National Geographic magazine, where she was especially inspired by stories of solo, hiking. There she read an article about the great Appalachian trail, which said that only five people in one season could overcome it, and a woman will most likely never be able to walk this path. Then Gatewood was eager to conquer the difficult route by all means. Five years later, after donning her favorite shoes, Keds tennis shoes, a raincoat, a first aid kit, an army blanket, plastic shower curtains, a change of clothes and some provisions, 67-year-old Grandma Gatewood told her loved ones that she was going for a walk. Thus began the great journey of the great man.
The novice traveler set off on the road without a map, compass, sleeping bag, tent and other things necessary for such a difficult hike, but this did not stop her from walking about 35 km every day and, as a result, visiting 14 states. Her diet consisted of nuts, cheese and beef jerky, but she often found food in the forest - berries, sorrel, mint always saved Emma from hunger. In addition, the locals along the Appalachian Trail often helped hikers by providing hot food and shelter for the woman. On several occasions, Grandma Gatewood slept in hotels when she waited for supplies or a new pair of sneakers, but usually slept outdoors - on picnic tables, in barns, abandoned buildings, or right on the ground covered with leaves and moss. On cold days, she kindled a fire, and then slept on the still warm stones.
Soon after the start of the trip, the press found out about the brave tourist, christening her "Grandmother Gatewood". Throughout the entire "walk" Emma's adventures were carefully followed by the whole country, and at the end of her journey the traveler became a national celebrity. She lost 15 kg, wore out seven pairs of shoes and overcame difficult trials, but did not stop there and, five years later, set off again on the Appalachian trail. And even the second trip did not satisfy the woman's love of hiking - in 1963, Grandma Gatewood again repeated her record. Subsequently, Granny became the only person in the world to walk the Appalachian Trail three times. In 1970, when Emma was 82, she was invited to the Today Show, where she was asked what recommendations she could give backpackers for a more comfortable journey. The woman replied, "Take a raincoat, a backpack, a sturdy pair of Keds and Viennese sausages. You will find the rest along the way."
The famous hiker died in 1973 at the age of 85, leaving behind a story of someone with unwavering willpower and spirit that guided her throughout her life.