Friday, January 11, 2008

Grandma Gatewood

Lately, I have been devouring a book called "Beyond Backpacking: A guide to lightweight hiking," by Ray Jardine. It is an great book for someone who is thinking of going lightweight. It is out of print, but thankfully a great guy (Ben from California) allowed me to buy the book from him at what he paid for it many years ago ($15) one condition that if I ever decided to sell it... I had to sell it at cost and to an aspiring hiker! If you check on, the cheapest one used is $75 - $300.

Well, now onto Grandma Gatewood, who you probably never had heard of. Here is her amazing story, from Ray Jardine's "Beyond Backpacking".

Emma "Grandma" Gatewood (1888-1975) did not look like much of a hiker, but sometimes looks can be deceiving. During an illustrious hiking career that spanned 18 years, she thru-hiked the Appalachian Trial --- not once, but twice --- and she section-hiked it a third time!

Grandma Gatewood started hiking at an age when most people retire to their armchairs. And even then her accomplishments were outstanding. During her second AT thru-hike, she took no rest days, and completed the rugged journey in only 4 1/2 months, finishing just a few days before her 70th birthday. Her secret? "I had always lived on a farm and was used to hard work," she told one reporter. "I was in good physical condition, so I decided to hike that trail, and I just started out." And in her spunky style she quipped, "Most people are pantywaists. Exercise is good for you."

What set Grandma apart was her equipment. Backpackers wore sturdy boots to protect their feet; Grandma wore Keds sneakers. They used expensive parkas and "lightweight" bug-proof tents. She used a rain cape and a plastic shower curtain. They carried expensive frame packs that distributed their heavy loads evenly. Grandma didn't carry a heavy load. Her items of extra clothing and gear were few, and she carried them, along with her food, in a home-made bag simply draped over one shoulder!

Wow, how amazing eh. Reminds me of a certain verse in the bible. 1 Cor. 1:27 states,

" but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong."

Well, if she can do it...certainly anyone can!


M. Kate said...

That's a cool story...and reminds me of my great grandma. At 97, she passed away in early Sept. of '05. If she had a long lost sister, this woman would be a good candidate. She was a good woman and not afraid of a little work, and when I said little, I mean more than two people ought be able to do! Excited to see how you do, J...your blog is gonna make the rest of ours look pretty dull!

Anonymous said...

Speak for yourself.

Daizie Girl said...

That's awesome! I admire your courage and motivation to take on this challenge! Looking forward to hearing about it as you go along!

Mel Eik said...

I am also excited to see your posts along the way....and to see what you look like with a big bushy mountain man beard. I have images from Forrest Gump in my head.