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Gail Hansen (who decided to use her homemade applesauce to make Grandma Gatewood's cookies) wrote to Belinda about her husband's Appalachian Trail hike in 2000:

Wes attempted a section of the Trail during a drought season, and his co-hiker made him quit because he feared Wes was dehydrated. A high school acquaintance was standing on the trail when the section gave way, and she tumbled down a steep slope, landing head down in a tree overhanging a ravine. The Ranger who rappelled down to rescue her asked her if she'd ever talked to "the man upstairs," because he wasn't sure he could free her. Yet, she was helped up the slope, and walked 4 miles out to safety.

The other interesting thing is that they WAY over packed. They took sterno stoves, thinking they'd "cook," and Wes ended up tearing off the covers of his journal, and the zip off bottoms of his hiking pants to lessen their backpack loads, leaving them in the lean to shelters, just as the pioneers left their fancy furniture and knick knacks at the side of the Oregon Trail when the conostoga wagons were too heavy for the animals to pull.

… They ran into a man who was through hiking, and all the sleeping equipment he had was a hammock which he zipped closed once he 'hung himself up' for the night. Wes and his friend each had their own tents, and heard all sorts of creatures outside the tents at night, and chilling noises as well. Night on the trail is REALLY dark.

They found that much of hiking the "trail" was not hiking at all, but up hill and down rock climbing. Many of the sources of water were dried up. When they finally hiked out and ended up at [a] cafe, the people inside said "we could smell ya comin'!"

… he has not attempted to "take the trail" again. Bad knees, one of which was replaced a year ago.

… I'm sure you've heard stories of people being attacked, and at least one murdered in the lean to shelters at night. All the more reason I admire the intrepid Grandma Gatewood.

- Gail Hansen
November 6, 2014

Belinda says, "Love this story, Gail - especially since Emma was into light packing after her first unsuccessful trip! Also, she hiked the Oregon Trail in 1959. It sounds like quite an experience and I don't blame your husband for not going back -- knee or no knee! Be sure to tell me how the cookies come out with your homemade applesauce."

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