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.