This May will mark the 60th anniversary of Emma’s record-setting hike. Our documentary will come out just in time to begin the celebration and hopefully introduce this feisty female to a larger audience! In the meantime – let’s all take a hike in Grandma Gatewood’s honor!
You can find complete information about Emma and our project on our website.
Both the storytelling program and the one-act play are available for presentation for other groups. The play is also available for other theatres to present. You may contact me for information about bringing this program to your group.
Emma’s “walk in the park” wasn’t – not on the trail, not in life. The trail, which was relatively new in 1955, was not in the “advertised condition” of a comfortable four feet in width with food easy to obtain and shelters nearby. The trail barely existed in many places, shelters were often filthy or uninhabitable and it was helpful to be able to forage for food growing wild if you wanted to eat regularly. In life, she worked hard and endured poverty and abuse. Her husband, Perry Gatewood, started beating her shortly after their marriage and didn’t stop until their divorce. Emma raised her children, crops and flowers. She wrote poetry and enjoyed nature. She was bent, not broken. She rose above it all and Ben Montgomery tells it all.
I first heard the name of Emma Gatewood as a passing reference in a script I was given when I was doing a voice-over project for the Buckeye Trail Association. The 50th Anniversary script mentioned that one of their founders, Emma Gatewood, was the first woman to solo thru-hike the Appalachian Trail (AT) at the age of 67 (today is her 126th birthday). I called the person I was working with on that project and said, “Never mind the Buckeye Trail, who’s this Grandma Gatewood person?” and that started me on the Trail To Grandma Gatewood.