Eden Valley Enterprises News
Women Hikers Walk-Of-Fame
Frances "Pie" Wisznia
Frances Wisznia
Frances "Pie" Wisznia is packed and ready to hike the AT

I was first introduced to Grandma Gatewood this fall while thru-hiking the Pacific Crest Trail. I had come off trail to resupply in a town and I was tired, dirty, worn, hungry and lonely more than ever. I did all the usuals, eat, shower, laundry, charge electronics and check in with friends and family. I randomly had a message from a family member who had wanted to share an article with me on Grandma Gatewood. She asked if I had heard of her. I hadn't, so I intently read the article...I was absolutely left in awe. This was exactly the type of inspiration that I needed and at just the right time.

Recently I'd had some moments where I didn't know if I could continue to press on and the idea of finishing the PCT had become a bit bleak. Sure, thru-hiking is physically demanding but that's the easy part! The brutal, most challenging, gnarly aspect of thru-hiking is keeping your mind and your emotions somewhat sane...

Solo hiking can be so lonely! I didn't really think about it much but just 3 days without seeing another human is actually pretty hard. I often found myself hiking through the night by head lamp just hoping to see other hikers or a tent off to the side so I could quietly camp nearby and not feel so alone. I can't begin to explain what some of those nights felt like but hey, it comes with territory! Reading about Gatewood made me feel proud of my Solo ways! There weren't a lot of us; most solo hikers ended up in groups early on. I too met great people and would travel with groups occasionally but I always had to press on again on my own. You got to make those miles and ramble on! Knowing that this amazing woman, a mother, a grandmother, a 67 year old, in 1955 for crying out loud!, solo thru-hiked the AT, gave me all the inspiration I needed to complete the PCT. She simply made me feel like I wasn't really alone and that was all I needed. On September 30th 2015 after 4 and 1/2 months of hiking I finally walked into Canada!

My favorite quote: "For some fool reason, they always lead you right up over the biggest rock to the top of the biggest mountain they can find". Ha! Seriously! This is exactly how I felt...like everyday! I think we all feel this way about thru-hikes sometimes! This quote definitely made me look at thru-hiking more light heartedly and it also made me want to thru-hike the Appalachian Trail. What was Gatewood's journey on the AT like? What does the Appalachian trail look like? What does it feel like? Grandma Gatewood made me want to experience the AT, so, here I am 6 months after completing the PCT, packed and ready to attempt a solo thru-hike on the AT. We'll see how this one goes! Thanks for shining light on Gatewood so that others like me could draw inspiration from her and her journeys!

-Frances "Pie" Wisznia

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