Margaret Stevenson – Happy 102nd birthday

Yesterday 68 hikers celebrated Margaret Stevenson’s birthday at LeConte Lodge in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. She would have been 102 years old.

Margaret Stevenson was a legend to Smokies hikers. She and her husband retired to Maryville, TN. She started hiking in the park; some say she had a hiking group for every day of the week, except Sunday. By many accounts, she hiked up to Mt. Le Conte 718 times, the last when she was in her 80s. She was the first woman to finish all the trails in the Smokies in 1976.

 

Her Wednesday group turned into the Margaret Stevenson hiking club, an informal group that offer several hikes every Wednesday. On some days, they hike over 20 miles; they move.

On her birthday celebration, hikers get up to the lodge on their own; they just have to be at the lodge by noon. Beth and I chose to walk up Boulevard Trail and come down Alum Cave.

Beth took an incredible picture of me in the rays of fog and sun. She said that I looked like a ghost on the trail.

We were on the trail by 7 am; we had stayed in Gatlinburg, a great luxury. On the Boulevard Trail, we saw a bunch of Rugel’s Ragwort. It’s an ugly but rare flower, found mostly in the higher elevations in the Smokies.

Beth and I arrived about 11:30 and we got our picture taken in front of the dining room.

At precisely noon, we all gathered around Ellie D., who spoke affectionally about Margaret. She was always cheerful and remembered everyone’s name.

Margaret passed on her hiking passion to others. Pieces of birthday cake were passed around. Then we gathered for a group picture. See the top photo.

“I love to see all those fit people,” Beth said.

We had come up the mountain on one of five different trails. And we went back down, “like water down the mountain”, to quote Lori.

Thanks to Lori and Ellen for organizing this event. See you on the trail soon.

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