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Fast Start for the Centennial Year

More than a month before LeConte Lodge opens for its 100th season, hiker Melissa Coatney has marked her own centennial.

On Valentines Day, Melissa made her 100th climb of Mount LeConte. According to our records at, she is the 108th individual--and 23rd female--to make at least 100 hikes to the lodge. The lifetime record is 3,000 climbs estimated by Ron Valentine. Margaret Stevenson holds the women's record with 718.

"I couldn't think of a better way to spend Valentine's Day than on a mountaintop I love so much," Melissa wrote. "I am forever tethered to this mountain. It is therapeutic, so beautiful, and full of magic."

Click here to see WBIR's story on Melissa.

The lodge opens March 25. The first guests stayed in a tent in 1925, so this will be the 100th season of guest lodging. However, most centennial celebrations are planned for 2025. The dining hall pictured here is 85 years old.

Melissa's first ascent was May 25, 2013, with her father. She has made the climb 58 times via Alum Cave, 23 via Boulevard, and 12 via Bullhead, plus occasional hikes up Trillium, Brushy Mountain, and Rainbow.

Who's next? Our honor roll includes several hikers approaching 100: Tomas Staffen 98, Jan Pendleton 91, and Adam Gravett, 86.


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