Saturday, March 4, 2017




While I have driven through Duke Forest many times, I have never stopped to hike there....until today....what a treat!

We decided to hike the Korstian Loop....and accessed the trail off Whitfield Road...parking right next to the New Hope Volunteer Fire Department. There is a gravel access road there that leads to Gate 24.

The Korstian Section of Duke Forest is accessed at three points off Whitfield Road.   The Wooden Bridge Road is the access at Gate 24.   In about a mile the road leads downhill to the Wooden Bridge.

The Wooden Bridge crosses the New Hope Creek which flows eastwardly.  It is at this point the online map indicated that our loop trail begins.  But in reality this trail is the New Hope Creek North Trail.

We found the trailhead on the far side of the bridge as the map on line indicated that we would turn right at the bridge.  There appears to be another trail on the western side of the creek but I am not sure where it leads.
The Blue Dot Trail follows the New Hope Creek northwardly down stream.  It is a well worn but narrow path that is marked with "Blue Dots".  We were deep in the forest and only the sounds of crickets, birds and water splashing on rocks could be heard.   I think we encountered four people on the trail the entire day.
The early signs of spring were evidenced by a few colorful blossoms and very small purple flowers along the trail.  Though a month a way, the signs were there.
The real scenery of the day was the flowing creek.  Ever changing, always moving, the creek was alive.

At about the mile mark on the trail...two miles into the hike we encountered what an old man on the trail called...."Pinch Rock".  The Blue Dot trail leads you to this rock wall that extends into the creek.  The trail continues on the other side.
The FBWG made it over with ease, but my Faithful Hiking Companion could not figure out where to step and gave up and decided to climb the ridge....
So after waiting for nearly 15 minutes for My Faithful Hiking Companion to emerge on the ridgeline, I decided to climb the ridge to find her...not a easy task.... but I could not go home without her!
Making it to the top of the ridge I found a faint trail but My Faithful Hiking Companion was not there....looking at my phone I saw a message...."Where are you?"...So I called her...and after a few moments of confusion she announced that she could see my trail yellow coat....whew....losing her would have been hard to explain.   So to get back on the trail....we slid down the leaf covered hillside....laughing like kids.
Back on the Blue Dot trail, we were relieved....but about 200 yards down the trail, it just ended.  We surmised from the wear of the hillside, that the trail must lead up the ridge.  I volunteered to climb to the top again...and eventually found the Blue Dot Trail.

After climbing the ridge for the second time, My Faithful Hiking Companion announced that she was not sliding down to the river again....fortunately she did not have to...the ridge line trail was a smooth descent off the ridge to a bend in the river.

The trail led along the creek as it took a bend to the east.  One more climb to a small bluff provided a nice view of the creek.

Not far from the bluff, we caught a glimpse of the Concrete Bridge.    
Climbing out on the large rocks crossing the creek, I turned to take a picture of the creek as the sun glistened on the water.
The Concrete Bridge is on an aptly named Concrete Bridge Road....that leads from Gate 25 off of Whitfield Road.  Checking my mapping app I realized that the loop we were hiking took us up Concrete Bridge Road away from Whitfield we decided to loop the other way and finish the hike with a half mile walk along Whitfield Road...saving a couple of miles.  Leaving the creek, I took one more picture from the bridge.
The hike out along the gravel Concrete Road out was a pleasant walk, a bit of a climb to begin with.  But reaching the road, we turned right and followed the road for a half mile to the Fire Station.   Along the way I found an old house adorned by a new tree already with spring leaves.
We hiked nearly five miles.   The access is a 9.  Whitfield Road is easy to find.  Take the NC 86 exit off I-40.  Turn left.  Whitfield Rd is the first right after crossing the interstate bridge.  Parking on the road just before the fire station.
The trail is well marked but confusing ( always look at the map!) when it ends creek side past the pinch rock - 8;  Scenery is not spectacular but a wonderful forest trail alongside a creek - 8;  Effort to view is good....the climb to the ridge trail is a steep one.  Overall 8+ trail....we will be back!  For more info ck out the link:

Mending Wall

Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,
That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it,
And spills the upper boulders in the sun;
And makes gaps even two can pass abreast.
The work of hunters is another thing:
I have come after them and made repair
Where they have left not one stone on a stone,
But they would have the rabbit out of hiding,
To please the yelping dogs.  The gaps I mean,
No one has seen them made or heard them made,
But at spring mending-time we find them there.
I let my neighbor know beyond the hill;
And on a day we meet to walk the line
And set the wall between us once again.
We keep the wall between us as we go.
To each the boulders that have fallen to each.
And some are loaves and some so nearly balls
We have to use a spell to make them balance:
‘Stay where you are until our backs are turned!'
We wear our fingers rough with handling them.
Oh, just another kind of outdoor game,
One on a side.  It comes to little more:
There where it is we do not need the wall:
He is all pine and I am apple orchard.
My apple trees will never get across
And eat the cones under his pines, I tell him.
He only says, ‘Good fences make good neighbors.'
Spring is the mischief in me, and I wonder
If I could put a notion in his head:
'Why do they make good neighbors?  Isn’t it
Where there are cows?  But here there are no cows.
Before I built a wall I’d ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offense.
Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,
That wants it down.'  I could say ‘Elves’ to him,
But it’s not elves exactly, and I’d rather
He said it for himself.  I see him there
Bringing a stone grasped firmly by the top
In each hand, like an old-stone savage armed.
He moves in darkness as it seems to me,
Not of woods only and the shade of trees.
He will not go behind his father’s saying,
And he likes having thought of it so well
He says again, ‘Good fences make good neighbors.'

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