It took close to eleven years. Yesterday I walked a little under five miles and my official total mile count passed the 20,000 mark.
So I've done the 20,000 double. After summiting my bucket list 20,000 foot mountain peak in South America, I started hiking to keep the top-shape I had worked so hard to achieve. I did a lot of hiking without counting miles, but the official count began in June 2010 when I bought a Garmin hiker's GPS. I've been recording the miles ever since, and it is that GPS-recorded number that has just surpassed 20,000.
So for my hike venue, I chose a portion of the Appalachian Trail that has been abandoned by the AT Conservancy because of development that started in the 1970's. There were actually two reroutes. The original AT, routed since, I believe 1935 when the trail opened, has become a road on a ridge in a big development. The AT was rerouted down the hill to the side in the mid 1970's, but then rerouted again in the early or mid 1980's because too many houses were being built within view of the 'new' route.
What I hiked was part of that original 1935 AT that only sees a few hunters or wacky locals like me, a portion of the short-term reroute - the trail as it was routed only between the mid '70's and the early/mid '80's - which had been completely abandoned and lost (more on that in a minute), and a portion of that short-term reroute that has become a local community trail called, imaginatively, the Old Appalachian Trail. One of the signs along that is pictured in the selfie above.
But the real fun I've had lately was finding those other abandoned sections of original AT and that short-term reroute.
The 1935 AT came up a ridge on what was formerly a woods road, which was probably still in use by vehicles back in 1935. Finding that was not terribly hard. I found it on the first try. It's about a mile of trail, and I've found three surviving white blazes, faded but clearly good old vintage AT white blazes:
Finding the 0.6 miles of short-term reroute that was only used for a decade in the '70's and '80's and has not become part of the community trail was a lot tougher. The only evidence of it is the old blazes. Nobody ever used the trail until I started resurrecting it for my own use. It took five different scouting trips to the area before I got my breakthrough and found the first faint blaze:
Then, over two more scouting visits I found half a dozen more old blazes and was able to fully piece together the route. Here are three more examples of the blazes. The coolest is the double blaze on the wall of a massive overhanging rock face. Natural shade and shelter from all but the windiest rainstorm.