It’s National Take A Hike Day, and even in these strange times where we can’t safely do a lot of what we normally do, we can often still get out into the fresh air, maybe even onto a trail for some peace and quiet, a little calm away from the chaos.
If that’s what you get from a hike, then Emma Gatewood must’ve found a lot of peace and quiet.
The woman sometimes known as “Grandma” Gatewood came out of seemingly nowhere to become the first woman to hike the entire Appalachian Trail.
Gatewood grew up in the late 19th century on a farm in Ohio, and as farm kids do, she spent lots of time working outdoors.
As an adult, she faced physical abuse while trying to raise 11 children, and turned to walks in the woods when she needed an escape.
In May of 1955, Gatewood told her then full-grown children that she was “going for a walk.”
She didn’t tell them that the “walk” was the entire Appalachian Trail, which took hikers through 14 states, and over more than 2,000 miles in all.
Carrying only a few supplies in a denim sack she’d made herself, she walked for 146 days, finishing a trail that only a few people, all men, had finished beforehand.
Two years later, she did it again, and in 1964, she hiked the trail a third time, in sections, at age 76.
She also walked the Oregon Trail, thousands of miles from Missouri to Oregon, and in her 80s she helped develop the Buckeye Trail in her home state of Ohio.
In fact, if you need to get out for a walk yourself, you can go through a stretch of that trail now named the Grandma Gatewood Memorial Trail.
Today is also National Homemade Bread Day, so you can bake some of your own, and maybe take some inspiration from Pham Thi Bac, a baker in Vietnam who’s known for making enormous loaves of bread.
They’re at least a meter in length and typically cost a little more than $2 American.
I’ll take, like, five, please?
Ohio’s Most Famous Hiker––Emma “Grandma” Gatewood (Ohio History)
The Great-Grandma Who Changed the AT Forever (Outside Online)
Appalachian Trail sign photo by John Hayes via Flickr/Creative Commons