Emma Gatewood told her family she was going on a walk and left her small Ohio hometown with a change of clothes and less than $200. The next anybody heard from her, this genteel, farm-reared, 67-year-old great-grandmother had walked 800 miles along the 2,050-mile Appalachian Trail. And in September 1955, atop Maine's Mount Katahdin, she sang the first verse of "America, the Beautiful" and proclaimed, "I said I'll do it, and I've done it." Grandma Gatewood, as the reporters called her, became the first woman to hike the entire Appalachian Trail alone, as well as the first person - man or woman - to walk it twice and three times. The public attention she brought to the little-known footpath was unprecedented. Her vocal criticism of the lousy, difficult stretches led to bolstered maintenance, and very likely saved the trail from extinction.
©2014 Ben Montgomery (P)2014 Tantor
"A quiet delight of a book." (Kirkus)
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"Inspiring story about a strong amazing woman"
I loved Grandma Gatewood. She's quirky and ornery and stronger than maybe any other character I've ever known. She suffers gracefully and graciously, which of course makes her perfect for the Appalachian trial. I was inspired by her strength on many levels.
The story only gets four stars because I felt like Montgomery didn't completely do her justice. I felt like this story just scratched the surface of her and what she experienced. There was too much "filler" in the story about the politics of the time, and other topics that didn't belong in this story. I wished there was a lot more detail about her.
The narrator was perfect. Lawlor gives a lightness to the story that highlights the quirkiness of Grandma Gatewood and of the situations she gets herself in.
I've already recommended this book to several of my friends.
"I'd like to walk with her..."
Ben Montgomery has given us a glimpse into Grandma Gatewoods (age 67) walks... yes plural... she did the Appalachian Trail three times and many, many others. She was the first ultra-light camper... carrying only a homemade stuff sack, wool blanket, shower curtain and Vienna Sausages. Ben takes his information from her brief journal notes, newspaper articles, family records and interviews. The third person narrative and the writers obvious desire not to write fiction, limits the beauty of the story... and I didn't like the book at first. I listened at 1.25 (not my normal) because it does drag along. However, the magnitude of what she accomplished outweighed any failures in the rendition of it and I'm glad I continued to listen.
This is less entertaining than Bill Bryson's "A Walk in the Woods" but she does complete the hike, which Bryson didn't... leaving me ticked at him still. You learn less about trail hiking than you would with Cheryl Strayed's book "Wild." However, anyone serious about hiking, changing lifestyles to be more active or biting off a big goals will appreciate her grit. I googled her after finishing the book and enjoyed the collection of photo's about her hike. She might not of saved the Appalachian Trail single handed, but she certainly motivated a generation of hikers who realized if "Grandma Gatewood" can do it, I can too.
"Good, but would have liked more of her."
I want to be just like her. She was a inspiration.
No. I bought the book to hear the story of Grandma Gatewood, but the book had very few of her words and a large amount of history. Would have liked more of her.
"Good in small doses"
The story time line jumps around a bit which makes concentrating kind of difficult. Several times I felt lost. The narrator had a great voice for Emma's parts but otherwise did not enchant me. the story is still incredible and I feel greatly inspired as I prepare to start my own thru hike in just 2 months. Emma was one courageous lady. I wish I'd known her. this would be a great book to give an older family member in advance of a thru hike as it certainly takes the fear out of doing something like this.
"dauntless and inspirational AT trek"
Emma Gatewood is a formidable and dauntless woman. She preserved through years of an abusive marriage, hard life as a farmer's wife through the Depression, and birthing eleven children. Her solace has always been walks in the woods. One day, she tells her (adult) children that she is "going for a walk" and disappears on a secret quest: to traverse the entire Appalachian trail. The book is largely based on factual bits (her trail journal, interactions with people along the trail, and later newspaper accounts) with a wealth of detail. Trekking in her ripped up Keds and sleeping under the stars without a sleeping bag, resourcefully gathering plants and fruit to add to her meager supplies, braving weather and rain and rough trail, always charming and grateful to those that offered her food or shelter or encouragement along the way, "Grandma" Gatewood is a true inspiration.
This isn't great literature, but it is a great true story.
"Grandma didn't get lost but the author seems to"
Grandma Gatewood was an amazing person and I did like HER story. However, the author gets sidetracked by the history going on during Grandma's life. Some of this history is very hard to connect to the main story. Some of these side trails seemed like filler. I found myself wishing the book was over. There are better books about the Appalachian trail out there.
The best book I've listened to in a long time. I was captivated and fascinated with Grandma Gatewood - her story, her life, her strength. The story includes historical info on the Appalachian Trail which I also found very interesting. This is an amazing story , I loved it.
"An interesting story."
I enjoyed this more than I expected to. Quite interesting. Quite a woman. Worth your time. Take a chance on it.
"Too much history, not enough of Grandma."
This was the forth trail book I have listened to. I found it interesting, and motivating until the long sections of history, then I almost turned it off.
I loved this book for a variety of reasons. It's the story of one woman, with little or no training and few "appropriate" supplies traveling solo along the AT. She proved that age, gender and training are not always deterinating factors of a successful hike. She proved that grit, determination, the kindness of strangers and a dream are sometimes all that's required.
Her life was not always easy, which perhaps contributed to her successful venture. By the time she made this hike in 1955, she had borne 11 children to an abusive man whom she eventually divorced. This hike was wet and dirty and long, sometimes scary and other times companionable. But she did it... not just once, but three times!
The author obviously loved his main subjects - Grandma Gatewood and the AT (which is a character all its own). However, I have to agree with the other reviewers who state this book jumps around a bit and provides extra filler details that made me tune out. Minus those minor foibles, I would have rated this book 5 stars.
But it's still well worth your time and credit to take a hike with Grandma Gatewood and learn of the legacy she left behind.
"Intrepid traveller ..."
A bit of a strange book, this, in that whilst i thoroughly enjoyed it, it left me with the feeling that the author didn't have enough material on the subject - Grandma Gatewood - alone to write a book so had to fill in blanks with historical data.
BUT, that is ok as i enjoyed these glimpses into Americas social history: love the book because it bought an account of an amazing woman to my attention whom i would never have known about if this book had remained unwritten.
Wish i had her balls ... so to speak.
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