July 17, 2014
Hello to all of you High on LeConte readers. Allyson has headed down the mountain for a few days off, and I'll be filling in. Today's weather looks a lot like yesterday's--mostly cloudy with periods of sun, but not at all bad for LeConte in July.
Yesterday's high reached 60 degrees. The official low of 38 arrived Wednesday morning. The actual low for Thursday morning resided in the 45 degree range. We didn't record any precipitation on top of LeConte yesterday. I figured it would be quite a bit colder based on the predicted lows for the valley.
Yesterday, we welcomed hikers from the Wednesday Hiking Group who made their annual day trip up LeConte to celebrate what would have been Margaret Stevenson's 102nd birthday. Actually, that anniversary comes today, but the group Margaret founded always hikes on Wednesday. Each July they assemble at about midday at LeConte Lodge to share cake and stories about their mentor, Margaret.
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.
She 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 (which is available for perusing in our office), 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.
One of our overnight guests not part of the Wednesday Hikers remembered struggling during her first trip up LeConte. She remembered meeting Margaret on the trail and how her encouragement buoyed her spirits on her first climb. 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.
7/17/2014 07:05:26 am
Glad to see you!
Hello Nathan ! Your narratives and stories are always interesting and most welcome. I really do appreciate the information you share. Yes, Margaret Stevenson has to rank highly as a Leconte legend. that many hikes after that age is quite a feat; gives me inspiration. what an honor to have been able to shake her hand and talk with her. speaking of hiking the 900 miles of trails in the Park, I designed my own patch for this accomplishment and had a prototype produced, but the cost for only ten patches is tremendously high and I haven't yet had any made; my intent is to give a patch to select individuals who I know have definitely hiked all those miles. it's a nice looking patch and I'll try to get a photo of it onto my own website soon. again, thanks Nathan. G'day
7/18/2014 05:04:00 am
Sad and embarassed to say I did not know Margaret Stephenson's story. What an inspiration and challenge for someone who didn't do their first leconte climb till age 67. I will be sure to spend time perusing her journal on my next visit. Lovely story you've shared with us, Nathan. Thankyou!
7/18/2014 06:23:02 am
What about Ed Wright?
7/18/2014 07:02:40 am
Anyone read "Gracie and the Mountain"? It's one of my favorite books.
7/18/2014 07:19:58 am
Yes I have that book and Paul Adams Mt Leconte and read them both a week or so before I hike up. Really like both books and they inspire me. This Oct hike will be my 25th year hiking up and staying at the lodge.
7/18/2014 07:22:03 am
Yes, I've read Gracie and the Mountain and one of my favorites too. Also just read a book entitled Grandma Gatewood's Walk which is the story of a Grandma who walked the Appalachian trail back in 1955 and didn't tell her kids where she went...just that she was going walking. They learned her exact destination when she mailed postcards home to them. Some say she helped make people aware of the AT and thus speeded up interest and improvements to it. A good read.
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