The Pickerington Public Library next month will delve into the life of an Ohio woman who in her 60s became recognized as a pioneering hiker.

The Pickerington Public Library next month will delve into the life of an Ohio woman who in her 60s became recognized as a pioneering hiker.

Gallia County-native Emma Rowena "Grandma" Gatewood, at the age of 67, overcame some three decades of domestic abuse by finding solitude on the hiking trails of America.

Before she died at 85, Grandma Gatewood became credited as the first woman to hike the 2,168-mile Appalachian Trail, from Mt. Oglethorpe in Georgia to Mt. Katahdin in Maine by herself. She accomplished the feat three times.

She also was featured in national newspaper stories, as well as "Sports Illustrated" and on a "Today Show" segment.

Those highlights, and more, will be the focus of a program from 2 to 4:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 24, at the library, 2001 Opportunity Way.

Bette Lou Higgins, artistic director of Eden Valley Enterprises, will lead a 45-minute storytelling presentation about Gatewood that will address facets of the trailblazer's life, including her 2,000-mile hike of the Oregon Trail and her work to establish the 1,444-mile Buckeye Trail that loops Ohio.

"We started this project in 2009 and the first step was to create the storytelling component, which is what I'll be presenting," Higgins said.

Higgins said she came across Gatewood's story while working on a project about the Buckeye Trail. She a brief voiceover from Gatewood.

"I immediately said, 'Never mind the Buckeye Trail. Who is Grandma Gatewood? This sounds like a story to me,' " Higgins said.

"I never realized this would take up the next eight years of my life.

"This is a 67-year-old woman who survived domestic abuse that lasted about 30 years, raised 11 children, then hiked the Appalachian Trail three times," Higgins said.

"She was clearly an unusual and determined woman and her story just touches so many topics."

After Higgins' presentation, there will be an exclusive screening of an upcoming PBS documentary.

The "Grandma Gatewood: an Ohio Legend" program will serve as the first event in the library's upcoming Ohio Pride Series, which this September and October will seek to honor "hidden gems of the Buckeye State," said Kenton Daniels, the library's assistant director.

Other programs in the series will include "UFOs Over Ohio," "Ironwood Wolves," "Just How Weird Is Ohio?" and "Buckeye Birds of Prey."

"From my perspective, we couldn't think of a better way to kick off our Ohio Pride series of autumn programs than to present a great program about such an interesting and inspirational Ohio figure," Daniels said.

"Emma Rowena Gatewood was the first woman to hike the entire Appalachian Trail.

"She completed her first AT trek in 1955, at the age of 67.

"We feel her story is a meaningful one that should be shared, and partnering with Eden Valley was a great way to make it happen," Daniels said.

The Grandma Gatewood program is free, but openings to the event are limited and registration is required.

Registration can be completed at pickerington-library.org, or by calling the library at 614-837-4104.

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