Emma Rowena Gatewood (a.k.a. Grandma Gatewood) was well past her prime when she became the first solo woman to complete the Appalachian Trail in 1955 at the age of 67. The mother of 11 and grandmother of 23 began her journey at Mount Oglethorpe in Georgia, wearing Keds sneakers (not ideal for hiking, we’d say) and carrying a small knapsack with only an army blanket, raincoat and plastic shower curtain inside. “I thought it would be a nice lark,” she told reporters of her inspiration to take on the trail. “It wasn’t.” But despite the difficulty, the trail didn’t demoralize her too much, as Grandma Gatewood returned to hike the AT again in 1960 and 1963 (at the young age of 75), thus becoming the first person to complete the trail three times and the oldest female through-hiker until the record was broken in 2007.
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