View Full Version : Dorothy Laker, 1957 NOBO has passed
According to the ALDHA website, Dorothy Laker has passed away at age 85. She was the second woman to thruhike the AT. She did it 3 times NOBO - 1957, 1964, and a third time in sections between 1962-1972.
Her words about her hikes are in the first volume of 1975 book set "Hiking The Appalachian Trail". They cover just over 200 pages, the longest of any writer in the set. If anyone is interested (and doesn't already have a copy of the books), send me a PM and I'll try to get a copy of those pages to you.
I hope she now has a new body and a new trail to walk.
What a great AT legacy :)
The Mechanical Man
I give my respects to a woman hiking the trail the year I was born, 1957.
Remember, ....She did this without a cellphone, A Handgun, or a Website, and No trail magic.
Rest in peace my hiking sister
She was an inspiration.
I read her journals - she was a hiker and a half.
I spent many nights out in a tent during the early 1980s reading thru her words on the AT and backpacking, her fixation with crunchy foods(would carry a head of lettuce or cabbage), her disappointment with a fellow woman backpacker who was supposed to start out with her, her hitchhiking trips and forgeting where she stashed her pack, the WORKS! A Dorothy Laker podcast would've been worth its weight in gold . . . but now she's gone, a true hero, though sometimes I feel she's on my shoulder when I'm out.
I read her journals - she was a hiker and a half.
Same here and I agree 100%. An amazing woman.
Her journals are amazingly well-written. She was an inspiration to me.
I was surprised to learn she was born in 1922; that would have made her 35 in 1957, her first thru-hike. I thought she was much younger, as she wrote about working in a shop for a few years after college. The shop closed, and she thought it would be the perfect time to hike the AT.
Of all the words written about the AT, I think her's are the finest.
For those who may not know of Dorothy Laker, here is an excerpt from an interview at the end of 'Hiking the Appalachian Trail, Vol. 2", (Rodale Press).
Q: "Why did you hike the trail?"
Dorothy Laker: "The trail became like an absorbing book that refused to be set aside and finished another day. Each state the trail crossed was like a chapter in that book, and although it was possible to tell very early what might be expected further along the way, there was no way to know for sure. And the uncertainty was the lure leading the walker on to the final chapter to discover how everything actually turned out."
Q: "How many years had you been hiking before you set out to walk the whole trail?"
Dorothy Laker: "I had not been hiking at all before I hiked the trail. I just felt that any person could do it, given the desire to do so, if they walked all day and rested all night. By repeating this cycle long enough, they would complete the trail."
Q: "What would be your most important piece of advice?"
Dorothy Laker: "Take enough time to enjoy yourself. What you miss the first time you'll miss forever."
Just a Hiker
Her accounts of her thru-hikes in that two book set are clearly the best. I have read them many times and have thoroughly enjoyed them. I especially enjoy her account of her hiking with Earl Shaffer in '64 and getting really mad at him for killing a rattle snake. Her take on life and the trail are a pleasure to read. To me, this is really sad news.
This IS sad news. I often wondered where she was, and whether she kept up at all in hiking circles. That Rodale AT book is amazing.
I read her accounts in the Roedale Press book and found them very interesting as well as inspirational. She was certainly ahead of her time. May she rest in peace.
A wonderful woman with such a sense of her surroundings. Not ahead of her time, but timeless.
May she rest in peace until the awakening.
If anyone is interested in the Rodale books, check out abebooks.com
Cheapest price for Vol 1 was $9, cheapest for the set was $29.95.
The title of the books is "Hiking the Appalachian Trail", the editor is James Hare.
If you are a book person, this is a good place to find out of print stuff.
This is from a Florida Trail member on the Womenhiker list:
Dorothy Laker, 1922-2007
Dorothy Laker, the second woman to ever thru-hike the Appalachian
Trail, has passed away in Tampa, Florida on December 9 at age 85. At
her family's request, no formal obituary was released, in keeping
with the intensely private nature in which she lived her life. This
year marked the 50th anniversary of her first thru-hike. She was not
only the second woman to do a thru-hike, but also the second person
to complete three thru-hikes -- the first person being Grandma
Gatewood. "Dottie" Laker was a pioneer among all hikers, not just
women hikers. On Laker's second thru-hike, she spent the week from
Erwin to Damascus in the company of the first-ever thru-hiker, Earl
Shaffer, who planned to hike again with her when she reached his home
state of Pennsylvania but they never reconnected. For perhaps the
most complete account of her hiking exploits, check out the first
volume of "Hiking the Appalachian Trail" by Rodale Press. "
The only other person to have completed the trail three times
(besides Earl Schaffer and Grandma Gaterwood) was also a woman,
Dorothy Laker. In contrast to Grandma Gatewood's style, Dorothy Laker
did a thorough job of planning for her hikes and carried the best
equipment she could afford. It paid off, and she completed her first
trip in 1957 in 161 days. Her second trip, which started on June 14,
1962, had to be aborted on October 17 at Mt. Moriah, New Hampshire.
On her third hike she got an earlier start, May 4, 1964, and
successfully completed the Trail 151 days later on October 2.
> Nine years later, in 1971, Laker attempted to complete the last
section of her second hike, setting out from Mt. Moriah on August 23,
1971. Unfortunately, she twisted her ankle badly in a boggy area near
Saddleback and shortly thereafter a stretch of particularly cold, wet
weather set in. She pushed on, but she fell while fording the swollen
Kennebec River, ending her attempt to finish the Trail that year.
Finally, the next year, more determined than ever, she finished the
last 152 miles in a grueling 12-day effort.
After reading her stories in Rodale's book in 1976 I changed my interest in hiking the AT from passive to active. Her spirit always there during the 4 years I hiked the trail (1988-1991). She was a unique woman who had the intelligence, courage, fortitude, individuality and stamina to achieve an amazing goal at an amazing time. I have read her wonderful journals many times. About 10 years ago I wrote a letter to the AT museum in Harper's Ferry asking for her address, I wanted to go to Tampa to meet her, the museum told me that she was a "very private person." It is quite sobering to think how easy it is today to hike the AT and compare that with the primitive conditions she had to deal with. Yes, she was and is an inspiration.
Sorry to hear of her passing. I thoroughly enjoyed her writing style in the Rodale books.My condolences to her family.
What a wonderful inspiration to all women! To ALL hikers!
I have the Rodale set and read her stories as well. Loved them. I remember how she had female friends who wanted to hike but their mothers stopped them from going, telling them it wasn't the ladylike thing to do, etc. And in her photos she's wearing jeans, flannel shirts, ordinary men's work boots. Amazing lady.