Thursday, September 17, 2015

Book Review: Grandma Gatewood's Walk

What is everyone reading right now? I just got done with the most wonderful book and story that every woman needs to read about Emma Gatewood, my new favorite proper mountain woman.

I saw Grandma Gateway's Walk on the 2014 National Outdoor Book Award list and I'm so glad I felt I should read it, because it has thoroughly energized me. It's about this little grandma who read about the Appalachian Trail in a magazine (in 1950) and decided she wanted to be the first woman to walk it. Five years later, at the age of 67, she hiked it, from Georgia all the way to Maine!

This book is inspiring and magical. I appreciate how the author gives the back story of Grandma Gatewood, and tells us the other incredible story about this woman and how she suffered from domestic abuse over years and years from her husband. It wasn't till after she raised her eleven children, supporting them by growing gardens, working the farm, and being smart and resourseful, and then successfully divorcing her horrid husband that she was able to go and explore the world and nature like she had always wanted to.

The author also tells us that her first time trying to hike the trail (a year prior), she failed, and went home early after getting lost, being under prepared, and told to go home by some park rangers. For some reason that fact brings tears to my eyes. She was humiliated and felt silly, but she went back to try again. I so appreciate the way the author beautifully tells her story, using Grandma Gatewood's own field notes, our countries history during that era, and other hikers who met her... he speculates, along with the reader, about what might have been going through her head during all this walking and hiking.
She said she did it because she thought "it would be a nice lark". Well, I had to look up the definition of lark, since I wasn't sure I understood the meaning... it's the cutest word: lark; a source of or quest for amusement or adventure... don't you love that?

I want to share with you what Grandma Gatewood took on this "lark", because I think it's adorable. In her "draw string sack she made back home from a yard of denim" she brought along:
vienna sausage
bouillon cubes
powdered milk
a tin of band aids
a bottle of iodine
some bobby pins
a jar of Vick's salve
slippers and gingham dress (to shake out if she ever needed to look nice)
warm coat
shower curtain (to keep the rain off)
some drinking water
swiss army knife
a flash light
candy mints
her pen
and a little royal vernon line memo book, that she had bought for 25 cents at Murphay's back home

The book said she began training for her journey at the beginning of the year, in January, by walking around the block, and then extending her walk a little more each time until she was satisfied by the burn she felt in her legs... by April she was hiking ten miles a day. 

“She stood, finally, her canvas Keds tied tight, on May 3, 1955, atop the southern terminus of the Appalachian Trail, the longest continuous footpath in the world, facing the peaks on the blue-black horizon that stretched toward heaven and unfurled before her for days.” 

Ben Montgomery writes "There were a million heavenly things to see, and a million spectacular ways to die."

This book is refreshing and invigorating... and I took the message "to go walk and be happy" to heart. Last week after work I decided to walk home instead of drive, and then I walked back to work the following morning. It is only a 3.3 mile walk... but it felt sooooo good. I felt as happy as I do after doing a hike in the mountains, and I hope to get to the point where I'm walking to and from work all the time. It just feels like the proper mountain woman thing to do.

I can go on and on about everything I enjoyed about this read, but you just need to check it out for yourself... it's beautiful.

I love how Emma Gatewood read something in a magazine that she wanted to do, and she went and did it... I need to get some courage and do the same. There shouldn't be anything in this big old world we can't do.

PS. Check out what Megan Homer says about going for walk in her first answer in this interview.

No comments:

Post a Comment

+ + + + + +