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Original Issue


A 67-year-old great-grandmother, Mrs. Emma Gatewood of Gallipolis, Ohio, is determined to be the first woman to hike the entire length of the Appalachian Trail, 2,050 miles of mountain footpath from Mt. Oglethorpe, Georgia to Mt. Katahdin, Maine. Mrs. Gatewood, alone and without a map, began following the white blaze marks of the trail early in May, and this week from Connecticut's Cathedral Pines, Grandmother Gatewood could look back on 1,500 miles of the best and worst of nature. She had carefully avoided disturbing three copperheads and two rattlesnakes on the trail, flipped aside one attacking rattler with a walking stick. When caught without nearby shelter she had heated some stones and slept on them to keep from freezing. For snacks Grandma nibbled wild huckleberries, used sorrel for salad and sucked bouillon cubes to combat loss of body salt.

Her contacts with other humans ranged from a miserly individual who refused her even a drink of water to a generous housewife who supplied fried chicken to carry on the trail.

Mrs. Gatewood is serenely confident that she can finish her trek. "I'll get there except if I break something or something busts loose. And when I get atop Mt. Katahdin, I'll sing America, the Beautiful, 'From sea to shining sea.' "