Friday Hikers: Lake Keokee to a point near High Butte, May 13

Bob Harvey reporting

The hike of May 13 was from Lake Keokee to a point near High Butte on the crest of [[AT, Wilburn Ridge, Scales|Stone Mountain]] and return, a total of 9.0 miles.

Lake Keokee possibly is a water source for one of the towns of Southwest Virginia, and it’s not far from Appalachia.  We began the hike by going part way around the lake, walking over the big earth-fill dam, then going to the top of Stone Mountain on an easy ascent, arriving at Olinger Gap.  From the huge pile of empty beer cans we found at the gap, we could see that there must have been a four-wheelers’ party in the recent past.

Turning to the northeast at Olinger Gap we hiked along the crest of Stone Mountain.  For several short sections the trail was bare rock.  Much of this crestline trail, except for a few blowdowns, was no problem.  There was, however, the matter of two gaps that had steep descents and even worse ascents.  When we finally clawed our way to the high point, we took a welcome break to eat lunch, then headed back.

The hike back took a little less time, possibly because we were spurred along by hearing thunder coming from Kentucky, just two miles to the north.  According to fellow hiker Don Baker, the bad weather often comes from there, and so it did this time.  The rain began, but it wasn’t too bothersome until well after we had gotten back to the cars.

The hikers were Jack Aaron, Olin Babb, Don Baker, Collins Chew, Andrew Cleland, Anne Cosby, Bob Harvey, Carol Idol, Chuck Mather, Larry Miller and Jerry Sluder.