Put down your flaps—slow down.
Sonic boom—good hard tackle.
Assuming, of course, the Denver frosh do not unveil a supersensitive fire control system which might knock too many out of the lead formation or throw up a surprisingly strong defense in depth, the Air Force's new Falcons confidently expect to return to base without losses and report at debriefing:
"Mission completed. Initial strike success."
Mrs. Emma Gatewood of Gallipolis, Ohio, the 67-year-old great-grandmother (SI, Aug. 15) who elected to hike the entire 2,050 miles of the Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine, reached her goal, the summit of mile-high Mt. Katahdin in wild and rugged northeastern Maine. At the top she sang a verse from
America the Beautiful, signed the register in a wind that nearly blew her off the summit and said: "I did it. I said I'd do it and I've done it." After 146 days, her dream of being the first woman ever to walk the Appalachian Trail was realized, not without hardships that were overcome only with tremendous courage, ingenuity and will power.
During her trip Grandma Gatewood inched her way over great ledges of shelf rock made slick with sleet, waded across hip-high, 30-foot-wide mountain streams swollen with the rains of Hurricane Diane, whacked with her cane at dense underbrush, pushed her denim sack through holes in the rock formations and then crawled through those holes on her hands and knees. She measured distances between stepping-stones in a swift-moving stream with her cane because she "couldn't see so good" with broken glasses. All this to put "one foot in front of the other and just get there any way I could." She slept "anywhere I could lay my bones down," in people's houses when they didn't slam the door in her face, in porch swings, on porch floors, under picnic tables when it rained and on top of them when it was a clear night. She spent many nights in broken-down lean-tos, abandoned fishermen's camps and often just on a pile of leaves.
Fortunately Grandma is not afraid of being alone in the woods or of the animals in the forest. She says, "Most people get scared when they come up against an animal and right away think they have to make a fight out of it. Animals won't attack you unless you corner them. Fiddlesticks, I never even saw a bear—I made so much racket crashing and thumping through the woods."
Out on the trail, without seeing a soul for days at a time and with no recourse to the "corner store," Grandma met problems of the woods with pioneer ingenuity. Badly in need of an arch support, she picked up the discarded rubber heel from a man's shoe and taped it to the bottom of her instep. Her hair snarled and, with no opportunity to buy a comb, she poked around a campsite, found a plastic picnic fork, broke off the handle, and the five tines made a workable comb. On bitter cold nights she heated large flat stones and lay on them to keep from freezing.
Asked why she undertook the trip, Grandma answered, "Because I wanted to,"—and because of the alluring things she had read about the Appalachian Trail. The reality was a disillusionment. The trail is actually not so much a single trail as a succession of links—largely designed by local hiking groups who want stiff and stimulating courses for Sunday bursts of exercise. The result is often a succession of obstacle courses not unsuited to Army basic training. Moreover, local groups are responsible for maintenance of most trails and campsite facilities; some have fallen into scandalous neglect. But let Grandma tell it: