On Wednesday, about 55 members of "Margaret Stevenson's Wednesday Hikers" group assembled at the lodge to celebrate the memory of their namesake on what would have been her 100th birthday (plus one day, as Margaret's birthday was Tuesday, but the group she founded always hikes on Wednesday). Margaret's grandson was in attendance. Stories proved the currency of the day while the Wednesday Hikers enjoyed some cake in honor of Margaret before heading down each of the six major trails descending from LeConte.
We're glad there are thousands of accomplished hikers who hold a special place in their heart for Mt. LeConte. However, there are few real LeConte legends, and Margaret Stevenson ranks as a charter member. Margaret made 718 hikes to LeConte Lodge--all after her 48th birthday. Her route to our beloved mountain was circuitous, she was born in China but eventually made her way to Maryville, Tenn.
According to stories told at the gathering, Margaret suffered all manner of ailments until she decided at age 45 that it was time to transform her existence. She traded her bed for hiking boots and ended up hiking the equivalent mileage of 5.5 times around the world before she passed away in 2006 at age 94. She possessed a photographic memory and kept a journal of all of her LeConte trips, beginning on Oct. 13, 1960 and making the bookend 718th trip to the lodge on May 21, 1997.
One year Margaret hiked 3,000 miles while only driving her Pinto 600 miles. It was said that everyone wanted to buy that car, as it was well serviced and Margaret preferred walking to driving anyway. Margaret became the first female member of the "900 Club," accomplished when someone hikes every mile of trail in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The Wednesday Hikers group she nurtured boasts about 80 members of the "900 Club."
The following things were shared about Margaret on Wednesday in the LeConte Lodge dining room. She was called "a fine example of how to live your life" and "extremely positive." Another offered that "if this gal was not a role model, I don't know what a role model is." It was also said that everyone wanted Margaret on their Trivial Pursuit team because she knew everything. People related that the way she welcomed people and introduced them to hiking rated even more impressive than her lofty mileage counts.
We were proud to host the Wednesday Hikers as they honored Margaret, who helped make a special mountain even more special during her 718 visits.
As for the weather, LeConte has been mighty soggy lately. We have been getting periodic peaks at the sun, but most of our time is spent in the clouds. We received 0.18 inches of rain on Wednesday with a high of 65 and low of 52. The forecast calls for more showers and thunderstorms over the next couple of days, though it hasn't rained as of Thursday at 2 p.m.