Her Old-Lady Shoes Were Made for Walking

The incredible tale of the grandmother—and first woman—who hiked the Appalachian Trail (and helped preserve it).

January 20, 2015

"She stood five foot two and weighed 150 pounds and the only survival training she had were lessons learned earning calluses on her farm. She had a mouth full of false teeth and bunions the size of prize marbles. She had no map, no sleeping bag, no tent. She was blind without her glasses, and she was utterly unprepared if she faced the wrath of a snowstorm, not all that rare on the trail. Five years before, a freezing Thanksgiving downpour killed more than three hundred in Appalachia, and most of them had houses. Their bones were buried on these hillsides."

—From “Grandma Gatewood’s Walk: The Woman Who Saved the Appalachian Trail” a Longreads excerpt from Ben Montgomery’s book of the same title, about how a 65-year-old woman brought public attention to the then little-known path, very likely saving the trail from extinction


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