Grandma Gatewood's Walk

  • by Ben Montgomery
  • Narrated by Patrick Lawlor
  • 7 hrs and 54 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

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.


What the Critics Say

"A quiet delight of a book." (Kirkus)


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

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.
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- Marci

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.
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- Jan "Tangential, eclectic, avid listener... favorite book is the one currently in ear."

Book Details

  • Release Date: 12-16-2014
  • Publisher: Tantor Audio