Mrs. George Ketcham, Backpacker

The August 8, 1967, Missourian caption said “Even Charles, son of Mr. and Mrs. George A. Ketcham, wants to assist his mother with her back pack, a 20-pound weight that she has been wearing for months in preparation for a hiking vacation next week when she will travel about 10 miles a day, walking over the Appalachian Trail with her husband, and her father.” Click on any photo to make it larger. You can read the full Emily Hughes’ story here.

Hike will start at Nantahala, N.C.

I guess someone thought the shot that ran in the paper was cuter than this one that shows Charles’ face. Mrs. Ketcham’s mother was going to keep the six-year-old while the hikers start out north of the Georgia border at Nantahala, N.C.

“Mother will drive us to where we get on the trail, 30 miles away,” Mrs. Ketcham said, “and then we’ll take three days to get back, rest and repack. Then she’ll drive us to the other end and we’ll hike the 20 miles back in two days. After that, well see how we feel. If we’ve had enough, we’ll turn around and head home.”

She had been working up to carrying a 20-pound pack since May. She wore it when she was working as a counselor during the Junior Cadet Day Camp so she wouldn’t lose conditioning.

Grandma Gatewood

I’ve been scanning photos of  another hiker, Grandma Gatewood, for a future story. This is a shot you’ve seen before.

This remarkable woman was one of the first extreme hikers and an ultra-light hiking pioneer who was the first woman to hike the whole 2,168-mile Appalachian Trail in one season. She did it in 1955 at age 67, wearing Keds sneakers and carrying an army blanket, a raincoat, a cup, a first aid kit, one change of clothes and a plastic shower curtain, all stuffed in a homemade bag slung over her shoulder.

She hiked it again in 1960 and then again at age 75 in 1963, making her the first person to hike the trail three times (though the final hike was completed in sections). She also walked 2,000 miles from Independence, Mo., to Portland, Ore., averaging 22 miles a day.

This was shot in 1969 when she was walking in Hocking Hills State Park

9 Replies to “Mrs. George Ketcham, Backpacker”

  1. Yvonne Ketchum lived in the 1400 block of Themis, just one block to the east of us. She was involved with the Girl Scouts and was always willing to help a girl earn a new badge. In the late 60s, I remember she taught a fellow scout and me to make a beehive. It took a lot of straw, raffia, a tub of water and a huge tapestry type needle. I don’t remember the badge that would have required that skill. We ended with an old fashion domed shape beehive, it was just the coolest thing. She was always involved with scouting in some way. When I pass her old house these days, my mind will gently wander down those long ago days and her scouting spirit.

  2. What wonderful memories this blog brought up for me. In 1981, we were the base camp for our son’s Boy Scout troop’s 50-miler hike on the Trail. We took the boys up to the top of Springer Mountain, GA, the southern terminus of the Trail and watching them hike off in the misty morning was so like your picture. They hiked from Springer Mountain to Unicoi Gap where we picked them up. This was our introduction to the North Georgia mountains and here we are, 31 years later, living a mere 47 miles from Springer Mountain! Jerry made 10 miles on the Trail in Virginia several years later when we ran the base camp while the boys hiked from Panorama, VA south to Loft Mountain Campground. Another year, we ran the base camp while they hiked from Standing Indian National Park, NC to Unicoi Gap back in Georgia. Our younger son, Mark, made the latter two 50-mile hikes.

  3. I certainly did not wear those loafers on our hike of the Appalachian Trail, nor to the Girl Scout Day Camp. I paid $80 for a great pair of boots, which was a lot of money in 1967 on a professor’s pay, that lasted me for years.

    The photographer Ken Steinhoff called me to say he could come in half an hour, so I had time to change into my Girl Scout uniform and didn’t bother with the boots.

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