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10 famous Appalachian Trail hikers

By: Laura Moss on May 18, 2011, 1:23 p.m.
"Grandma Gatewood" hiking the Appalachian Trail

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

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'Grandma Gatewood'

When Emma Gatewood set out to hike the Appalachian Trail, no woman — and only five men — had ever completed a thru-hike. In 1955, the 67-year-old grandmother of 23 finished the hike and earned herself the nickname "Grandma Gatewood." Upon completion of the epic trail, she told Sports Illustrated, "I would never have started this trip if I had known how tough it was, but I couldn't and wouldn't quit." Gatewood is also known as a pioneer of ultra-light hiking — she hiked the trail in Keds sneakers and often carried just an army blanket, a raincoat and a plastic shower curtain that she used as a bag. "Grandma Gatewood" hiked the AT two more times, in 1960 and in 1963, completing her final hike in sections. She was the first person to hike the trail three times, and she was the oldest woman to thru-hike the trail until Nancy Gowler did so at the age of 71 in 2007.