Grandma Gatewood was a woman ahead of her time. She is as inspiration to me as a woman who didn’t live out her golden years in a rocking chair on a front porch. After raising eleven children on an Ohio farm, she read an article in a 1954 National Geographic magazine that stated that no woman had ever hiked the entire length of the Appalachian Trail in one season.
This inspired her to hike the entire 2,050 miles of the Appalachian Trail through thirteen states and eight National Parks from Georgia to Maine. She managed to accomplish this feat in 145 days, at the age of 67 and in the year 1955. Long before “woman’s liberation” was even thought of. She also hiked the Oregon Trail in 1959 at the age of 72 as part of the 100th anniversary of that famous trail. She made numerous television appearances to talk about her achievements.
One of her favorite trails in Ohio was the one that went in between Ash Cave and Old Man’s Cave State Parks. The annual “winter hike” takes this same trail and she led the hike on numerous occasions. Six years after her death the trail was dedicated as a National Recreation Trail and officially named “The Grandma Gatewood Trail” in her honor.
Grandma Gatewood was an avid enthusiast of the Buckeye Trail. She donated $20 which bought the first blue paint for the blue blazes that designate the trail that connects the four corners of Ohio. She served on the board of the Buckeye Trail from 1960 to 1969 and was honored by them as their first Honorary Lifetime Member.
Grandma Gatewood, who was born Emma Rowena Caldwell in 1887, passed away in 1973 at the age of 85 years old. She is an inspiration to all women who want to lead a full and abundant life in their later years.
There is a book that was written about Grandma Gatewood that you can read before, during, or after your trip to the Hocking Hills. Get your copy here.
Excerpt from “The Best Kept Secrets of the Hocking Hills” Guidebook
Copyright 2015 Terri Baker