Jaqui's Daily Blog

A Mighty Girl and a Long Walk

I have just been reading the story of a Mighty Girl called Emma Rowena Gatewood who became the first woman to walk all 2168 miles of the Appalachian Trail in 1955. I was eight years old at the time but, sad to say, I don't remember hearing of her quite amazing feat. I do remember the King dying in 1952 but only because they took Listen With Mother off the radio and played solemn music all day long. I think I can be forgiven for my lack of mourning, being only five years old at the time.

All these years on, however, I am extremely interested in the Mighty Girl's long trek because Mr B and I feel well acquainted with the Appalachian Trail (or AT as the truly knowledgeable call it) as we have just lady week finished reading Bill Bryson's tale of his own Walk in the Woods. This is not to be confused with "Into the Woods", the musical production in which grandkids Jack and Hazel (plus the rest of the talented Limelight youth theatre group) will be performing next weekend. I have been much occupied in the last few days composing a final pre-show News Release for the Basingstoke Gazette, featuring Young Owen White who sums up everything that Limelight stands for. Well, I wrote it, so it must be true...

Back to Brave Emma Rowena who, rather like Owen, sums up everything that her particular calling stands for. She set off wearing sneakers and carrying an army blanket, a raincoat, a shower curtain and a change of clothing. She travelled light, foraging among the wild plants for food to supplement the dried meat, cheese, nuts and dried fruit she had packed in her home-made shoulder bag. Now here's the thing: usually when I read of such efforts of grit and determination I say, with a show of disappointment: " If only I were younger..." But Emma Rowena was 67 when she set off - just a year younger than I am - and she went on walking the trail till she was in her mid-seventies. It didn't ought to be allowed, as my dear Mum was wont to say.

Mr B and I took a walk today. We have just taken possession of something called a rollator which should help Mr B to keep his legs from folding under him. It comes with a handy seat, so that he can take a well-earned rest every so often, under which is an extremely handy secret compartment. Into this, should he so wish, he could pack a raincoat, a shower curtain, an army blanket and a selection of fruit and nuts (ideally made by Cadbury's).

Good old Emma, when asked why she decided to hike the Appalachian Trail, said she thought it would be "a lark." I used much the same argument on Mr B though it didn't at first seem to be working. Then in mid-afternoon, he asked me to fetch his shoes so that we could Take A Walk. What a lark! I thought.

The Mighty Girl apparently conceded that hiking the Trail was not exactly a lark. Our short walk with the rollator wasn't much fun, either, on account of the rollator's tendency to, well, roll. It was a bit like your first ever time on roller skates, if you can remember that. "Brake! Brake!" I kept yelling. "I am braking!" Mr B yelled back. I think he was crosser with me for stating the blooming obvious than with the rollator for only, after all, doing what comes naturally.


I rather think that Mr B needs to take a leaf out of young Morgan's book. Morgan, known to regular readers as The Duracell Bunny, is not even three and a half years old but can ride his bicycle without stabilisers and at great speed. He would have made mincemeat of the rollator.


When we get home I read the instruction booklet and discover that there is a way of locking the brakes. Mr B says it would have been a good idea had I consulted the guide book before we set out on our equivalent of the Appalachian Trail - the route between our house and the second tree along the road. He is going to tell Eugene, his physiotherapist, when next he visits.


Oh, dear, Eugene's erstwhile good opinion of me is about to hit rock bottom. I shall have to do something quite spectacular to restore it.

I need an army blanket, a raincoat and a pocketful of nuts before I head off, like Emma Rowena Gatewood, to hike the Appalachian Trail.

Would a brisk walk along the prom, prom, prom suffice, do you think?

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Latest comments

23.04 | 20:15

lovely and heartwarming - an inspiration to us all x

09.03 | 12:07

Love this story told as ever beautifully.x

10.11 | 21:31

What a super account of a special event. I loved meeting you last night and seeing your creation come together. I’m so pleased you got so much from the activity

07.09 | 13:17

I have broad shoulders x

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