Grandma Gatewood was a SAKist!

Discussion in 'Multi-tools & Multi-purpose Knives' started by jackknife, Jun 17, 2020.

  1. James Y

    James Y

    Feb 18, 1999
    I’ve long said that if I could only have knives from one brand, I would choose Victorinox. I realized how useful and versatile they are when I carried only one SAK when I moved overseas for nearly a decade, and for several years after returning home. The things that SAK got me through were beyond the capabilities of a knife blade-only knife.

    There are people out there who consider SAKs as trinkets, or gimmicks, etc. I recall one person posting that every SAK he used broke, as proof they are inferior. I started using SAKs 40 years ago, and used them quite a bit. I’ve never broken an SAK, other than the scissor spring on one Classic that broke (which I replaced). If someone is breaking every SAK they’ve had, the fault is in the user, not the tool.

    I always say that Victorinox is the industry standard in consistency, quality, AND quantity. That they meet all those criteria is not simply amazing; IMO it’s phenomenal.

    Anyway, sorry for going way OT.

    Jim
     
  2. jackknife

    jackknife Gold Member Gold Member Basic Member

    Oct 2, 2004
    @James Y,

    Thats okay Jim, its all on topic when it comes to SAK's. :thumbsup:

    Yeah, I remember the forum member who, when we all started saying too many good things about SAK's would show up and tell us how he broke 10 of them because they were over hyped junk. :rolleyes:
     
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  3. Enkrig

    Enkrig

    143
    Dec 17, 2015
    Thanks all for the note and stories. I has been very interesting to follow the discussion.

    Although I cannot opine on how she got a SAK, I can totally understand it. For lightweight backpacking, I'd be hard pressed to find a tool that packs as much functionality in such a small and lightweight package.

    Opinels are nice and *very* lighweight. And they make nice collectives in the special woods (I'm a sucker for olive wood). Still, I agree that the round handle does feel quite bulky in the pocket. MAM knives are much better in that regard, as they have similar blade geometry (of same german steel as Victorinox, I believe) and wood handles but with flat sides, which also keeps costs down for them.
     
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  4. mnblade

    mnblade

    Feb 7, 2000
    A couple thoughts ......

    Grannie G was one tough old bird! No sitting around watching TV and getting soft for her. :thumbsup:

    Another thing about SAKs is how easily they convert to a Poor Man's Leatherman: Throw a $6 pair of needle-nose pliers into your kit bag and you're all set!
     
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  5. Hairy Clipper

    Hairy Clipper Basic Member Basic Member

    331
    Feb 28, 2009
    Grandma Gatewood showed up here this morning and you do not have to read too many pages to find out that a Swiss Army Knife was in her home sewn denim rucksack bag that held all she thought she needed for her trek and weighed in at 17 pounds.
     
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  6. jackknife

    jackknife Gold Member Gold Member Basic Member

    Oct 2, 2004
    I admire. what she accomplished, but as I said in another post, just because you can, should you?

    Granny had a SAK, and in those days that was an exotic piece of gear. So I only wonder why she went sooooo retro when retro wasn't even 'in' yet? Even in 1955, there was backpacks that would have carried that weight if not a bit more, in much better comfort and ease. And the inclusion of a good rain Pancho would not have been that much extra weight. She spent way too much time being wet and cold.

    When I got medically discharged from the army in 1971, I was 50% disabled from damage to my right foot and ankle. I didn't want to give up backpacking, so I went ultra light backpacking. I got pack weight down to just under 25 pounds usually, and that included rain gear and a great water proof nylon tarp that all kinds of tie down straps sewn on it. It was something like 10 or 12 foot square but weighted almost nothing. But it let me set up a 'dry space' to make camp under. Rolled up it was about the size and weight of a loaf of wonder bread. My North face sleeping bag was also about the size of a loaf of bread, but was like 2 or 3 pounds, was good to 20 degrees and balled up pretty small. The Kelty backpack let that stuff ride almost un-noticed on the back.

    I only wonder why didn't granny have someone counsel her on better gear for her 2d and 3d trip?

    I'd love to know what model SAK she took!
     
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  7. Hairy Clipper

    Hairy Clipper Basic Member Basic Member

    331
    Feb 28, 2009
    I only got 44 pages read last night before turning off the light, these cataracts really slow up my reading. So in 44 pages I have learned she had a Suisse Army Knife, lost her SAK and went into town and got another knife of whose lineage at this point is unknown to me. Perhaps there will be details on it further down the vicarious trail?

    In these early pages it is disclosed that in previous years she attempted the trek and a Park Ranger in Maine got her transportation home before she ended up being an example of what not to do. Undoubtedly a learning experience for her at the time that brought her more insight on what it would take to be successful in such an undertaking. The fact remains that at the time she completed her trek was a much different time than today and for a woman to be on a trek like that alone might get her hauled back home in a straight jacket by the local Constabulary.

    She reminds me of my Grandmother on dad's side. She grew up with eight brothers and the only girl and knew how to do everything on the farm and did everything on the farm. She lived to be ninety-nine years old and was pretty tough mentally and physically and understood mechanics and leverage plus she was a great cook! Her Suisse mother and father sailed to North America in 1850.

    Growing up in southern Minnesota we had access to the World Famous Herter's original store about twenty minutes from home and George Leonard Herter's catalog received ample page turning daily at our house. I don't know when George started the mail order outdoors supply business, certainly after his walking tour of Europe that many GIs endured.

    Maybe I will go outside this afternoon and try reading, with more light it might go a little faster.
     
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2020 at 12:44 PM
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  8. jackknife

    jackknife Gold Member Gold Member Basic Member

    Oct 2, 2004
    I can only guess that Emma Gatewood was from a hardscrabble poor background of hard work. She just wasn't used to having anything easy in her life, so she actually didn't know any better for that first trip. She didn't even tell her kids where she was going and what she had planed. One very very tough old lady!

    And I know what you're dealing with the eye issues. I've got a cataract forming on my left eye and light is an issue. To read well I need light. Outside sunlight is good, and inside a high intensity reading light is needed. I sometimes find myself squinting my left eye shut and reading with just my right eye, so I go find more light. This whole aging thing is enough to really get on ones nerves!!!!!:mad:
     
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  9. Hairy Clipper

    Hairy Clipper Basic Member Basic Member

    331
    Feb 28, 2009
    I am a few pages short of half way though the book and as for Grandma Gatewood's travels she is a little over half way mileage wise with the toughest part of the trail introducing itself to her now with Mother Nature about to toss a couple of surprises at her. When I turned off the light last night the author had hinted at a Hurricane or two that are about to make a memorable trip more so. Multiple poisonous snakes make their presence known periodically and her concerns of wild animals such as bears, coyotes and fox at night appear to be a continuous worry. She has gone through three pair of Keds tennis shoes to which she is not opposed to making modifications to in attempts to make more comfortable on her swelling feet and bunions. She has lost her cane and made one out of a maple stick she found along the trail. Boy and Girl Scouts seem to show up out of nowhere regularly and get entertained with stories of her adventure so far and newspaper reporters have been pursuing her to inform a growing American public's interest of this old woman's stories as she moves north across the Appalachian Trail. A gal from the then fledgling magazine SPORTS ILLUSTRATED has met up with her and will be giving her national exposure. At this point she has gotten so much attention from the press that she gets recognized regularly by citizens of towns she stops at to replenish supplies or find a meal or a room for the night. But the trail is getting more difficult and the weather, as always, quite unpredictable. Remarkably, she has been making roughly 17 miles most days regardless of the weather. She has not been without injury, however, at one point a sprained knee had slowed her progression down the trail to about 2 miles a day. The kindness of strangers with food or lodging or a dry barn floor or a ride into town are sprinkled throughout this book and thanks to her journal those kind strangers are mentioned by name in the narrative. When getting a ride into town, she always goes back to the place she left the trail so as to make every step on the trail and not cheat by taking shortcuts along the way. The Keds tennis shoes must have been near impossible to walk in during heavy rains and slippery mud.

    The hardscrabble life of working on the farm with her eleven offspring would be tough enough by itself. But no one needs to be beaten daily. At one point she confides that she has run away more than once to California to her mother's home to escape her brutal husband!

    More adventure ahead ... .
     
    Last edited: Jun 28, 2020 at 10:45 AM
  10. jackknife

    jackknife Gold Member Gold Member Basic Member

    Oct 2, 2004
    It's actually a stunning tale of human endurance of not just her trip. but of her life's hard hard experiences. One tough lady was a result.
     
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  11. Hairy Clipper

    Hairy Clipper Basic Member Basic Member

    331
    Feb 28, 2009
    I have to thank you for mentioning Grandma Gatewood and her escapades documented in the book I just now finished reading. I do a lot of reading and usually have a reading list outlined several months in advance and it is a rarity that I allow a book to sneak in and not go to the back of the line. It took a week for the Inter Library Loan to arrive at my local library which was OK as I was just getting started on a book titled, THE FIRST GREAT RACE: ALASKA'S 1973 IDITAROD! I recently purchased a copy of it so there was no need to hurry through either book.

    There is no doubt she is an inspiration to all hikers and nature lovers. If I remember correctly she went through 7 pairs of Keds tennis shoes on that first completion of the Appalachian Trail. She even has hiking and camping gear named after her! It certainly is a wonderful book to read.
     
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  12. jackknife

    jackknife Gold Member Gold Member Basic Member

    Oct 2, 2004
    I can only wonder what she would have thought of New Balance All Terrain hikers or some Merrill's.
     
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  13. James Y

    James Y

    Feb 18, 1999
    I want to thank you, jackknife, for mentioning Grandma Gatewood. I’d never heard of her before, and most likely never would have otherwise. I am planning to purchase the book soon. I like true-life stories that inspire.

    Jim
     
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  14. 22-rimfire

    22-rimfire Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 20, 2005
    Grandma Gatewood needed to plan better is all I can say. Tough life or not, you still need to plan ahead as best you can. I have no desire to abuse my body trying to hike the length of the AT. I will limit myself to selected sections. Wet and cold.... ugh.... won't willingly subject myself to such things unless it just happens. At least she got the SAK right.

    With the recent mention of Teddy Roosevelt (in the news-protesters), I acquired the kindle version of one of his books from the early 1900's. I am looking forward to going through it (I think) if the writing is entertaining enough to keep plodding along. I like reading about how it was like 100 years ago. But I really never lusted for that kind of life. Like cars and trucks produced today, I would take them any day over the stuff that was produced in the 60's and 70's and I would relate that to hiking as well in terms of available equipment.

    I thought SAKs were gimmicky too for years. I know my Dad believed that as he would sort of snicker when I showed him my SAK that I carried as a regular pocket knife.

    Yesterday I was out taking pictures and my SAK flat head screw driver came in real handy for attaching my camera body (actually a big lens) to the quick release plate on my tripod or monopod. I needed it TIGHT.
     
    Last edited: Jul 1, 2020 at 2:48 PM
  15. Hairy Clipper

    Hairy Clipper Basic Member Basic Member

    331
    Feb 28, 2009
    Hello 22-rimfire ... it has been a while.

    I have read a number of TR's books and I do enjoy reading them. The thing I suspect many people miss about TR is how honest he was. When you think about it, many people that hunt or shoot or fish there appears to a be a somewhat natural desire by many to embellish their skills in their success stories of them in the field, I have witnessed this many times first hand. When you read AFRICAN GAME TRAILS Teddy on more than one occasion tells about how he or Kermit hit the animal a bit far back. His tactful way of saying he gut shot the critter! If a fellow can be honest about his own shooting I think you have found an honest man. When I realize how much degradation I have experienced in my own vision from cataracts in the last year and when you factor in those thick glasses Roosevelt wore and moving targets it may have been a minor miracle for him to hit anything.

    As for Grandma Gatewood's preparations for a 2,050 miles hike in the wilds of the Appalachians, in reading the book mentioned in earlier posts there appears to have been very little accurate information about the trail conditions and having grown up around the time frame she went for the walk, I can remember quite a few tramps, bums and perhaps today the media would call them homeless people that we used to see along the railroads that existed at the time. Many had only the clothes on their backs, some had a bundle of things they carried with them wrapped and tied in a blanket. We frequently saw them scrounging in the local dump looking for things others had thrown away that they might find useful. George Washington Sears perhaps better known as Nessmuk wrote about what today would be called minimalist camping. I, too, would like to have packed for a little more comfort on the trail if I were to undertake such a project ... cold and wet is not all that appealing at this stage of life.
     
  16. 22-rimfire

    22-rimfire Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 20, 2005
    @Hairy Clipper I honestly didn't know TR wrote any books. Without him, the National Parks wouldn't be the same and he deserves a spot on Mount Rushmore. Keep wondering about the treasure in the Black Hills. :D The books aren't expensive at all and will almost definitely look into the African Game Trails book. That was an era before Africa changed for the worse (animal wise).

    Things have really changed with regard to the AT. I occasionally read some of the accounts on the one AT web site. My next door neighbor hiked the entire AT at least once and tried more than a couple times. He has bad knees. I am pretty sure I could do the entire AT if I really wanted to. I suspect I would be either in great shape by the time I finished or I would be a cripple or worse. I'm not much for simply hiking to crank out miles or get exercise specifically. I want to see interesting scenery. Deserts intrigue me. Would like to spend time in some of the US arid area.... West Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and Southern California.
     
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  17. jackknife

    jackknife Gold Member Gold Member Basic Member

    Oct 2, 2004
    That is the understatement of the year!

    The first murder was in 1974, and theres been 11 people killed so far. One case was a young couple killed by a homeless guy, who after shooting the boyfriend, raped and killed the young woman. In recent years, with the increase of backpacking, assaults have increased due to down and outers moving in and mooching off of the backpacking crowd. There has been instances of drunks arriving after dark and taking over the shelters, female hikers being harassed by locals who walk in, and cases of theft and vandalism of cars parked at the trail heads.

    My last trip was April of 1988, and I had a late night visitor to my campsite. Dude was trying to sneak up on my site just off the trail by the intersection of the Big Devil Stairs trail and the A.T. just north of the Gravel Springs shelter. Only was given away by the crunching footsteps in the leaf liter on the forest floor. I was just drifting off to sleep when I hear this crunch, crunch, crunch, then a pause. I crawl out of my bevy shelter and after a bit of listening, I see this shadowy figure sneaking up on me. Dark, with just a little sliver of moon giving very weak light. About 20 yards out I shine my little AAA light on him and theres this dude all dressed in dark, with a hood over his head. Couldn't see his hands, and I yell at him he'd better get the eff out of here, and give him one warning shot from the NAA .22 revolver I had.

    Guy/person runs off through the woods at high speed.

    That was my last trip on the A.T.
     
  18. Hairy Clipper

    Hairy Clipper Basic Member Basic Member

    331
    Feb 28, 2009
    A chronological list of Theodore Roosevelt's books can be found at this link ... you will need to scroll down a short way to find it though.>>>>>>>> itttps://www.nps.gov/thrb/learn/historyculture/booksbytr.htm

    I keep kicking myself, about twenty years ago I had the opportunity to by a complete set of TR books with matching bindings and did not buy it, bummer. I have about a dozen variously bound books of his titles. In his 1888, Ranch Life and the Hunting Trail, tells stories from hunting near his ranch in North Dakota and hunting in the Rockies with his ranch foreman (who happened to be the uncle of Elmer Keith) there is talk of hunting in the mountains in chest deep snow! If I were a car or truck I would be in the junkyard by now, so many of these things I used to enjoy doing have become more than difficult in old age. The hike on the Appalachian Trail would have been fun though ... thirty years ago! Theodore Roosevelt did so many good things for our country and lived a rather adventurous life after being President. In his 1914 book, Through the Brazilian Wilderness, he was so ill that he told the others on the trip to leave him in the jungle with his rifle and one round of ammunition. But, the others knew there was no way a former American President was going to be left alone to die in the jungle, and certainly not Theodore Roosevelt! The Rough Riders is also an excellent read as are his Letters to his children.
     
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  19. Hairy Clipper

    Hairy Clipper Basic Member Basic Member

    331
    Feb 28, 2009
    It is too bad that there have been murders on the trail. There have always been bad people in the world wanting to bad things to others and that is why I tell my friends and relatives to always carry. That NAA is cute little revolver and as I tell my friends, "I would not want to be shot with one." You were lucky with your encounter. It could have turned out much differently. I don't think I would go out alone without a dog as a warning device. Dogs are wonderful animals and friends to mankind.
     
  20. 22-rimfire

    22-rimfire Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 20, 2005
    I feel sure the warning shot was a total surprise as folks on the AT frequently don't even have a large knife with them that might be suitable for self defense. Many folks on the AT are sheep ready to be fleeced.
     
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