Hiking inspiration: Margaret Stevenson was a regular on the trails to Mt. Le Conte

margaret-stevenson-boots-croppedMargaret Stevenson hiked to Mt. Le Conte 718 times. Most of those trips were day hikes, with her hiking up and down (at least 11 miles). She was the first woman to hike all 900 miles of trails in the Smokies — which she completed when she was 64.

In my hikes to Mt. Le Conte, I heard about Margaret Stevenson. I even saw her on the Alum Cave Trail a few times. She always was hiking with others and hiking with purpose. She’d give a greeting but kept on moving.

I was able to get this photo on a hike to Mt. Le Conte in 1986 when one of the friends I was hiking with sprained both of her ankles as we hiked down. We’d seen Margaret hiking up — and she had caught up to us as she hiked down. She stopped to offer encouragement to my friend.

Margaret had to give up hiking in 1997 due to carpel tunnel caused by her hiking stick use, but she continued to walk 6-8 miles a day on the Greenbelt in her hometown of Maryville. The city named a section of the Greenbelt in her honor.

The photo is on a notebook of her hiking journal entries which is in the LeConte Lodge office. This year, her bronzed hiking boots were added to the office’s collection.

Margaret passed away in 2006 at 94 and continues to be an inspiration to hikers of all ages.

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