Mystery of missing Appalachian Trail hiker still vexes wardens, locals one year later

The disappearance of Geraldine Largay, pictured wearing the black jacket, continues to plague wardens and locals one year later.
Courtesy of Maine Department of Public Safety
The disappearance of Geraldine Largay, pictured wearing the black jacket, continues to plague wardens and locals one year later.
Posted July 21, 2014, at 11:36 a.m.
Last modified July 21, 2014, at 6:35 p.m.

CARRABASSETT VALLEY, Maine — A mysterious disappearance in the Maine woods still has wardens searching for answers. Tennessee hiker Geraldine Largay disappeared while hiking the Maine portion of the Appalachian Trail a year ago. Maine game wardens believe they know what might have happened to her, but locals also have their own theories.

There are few parts of the Maine woods that hold more beauty than the kind seen along Route 27 through the Carrabasset Valley, and no part holds more mystery than a small section along this part of the Appalachian Trail.

“Once we find the end of this mystery, it will all be, ‘Oh yeah, now it makes sense,’” Game Warden Lt. Kevin Adam said.

Adam has been trying to make sense of what happened here last summer, yet the woods have provided no clues.

“Are there people we have looked for that we have never found? Yes. There are still people like that. It’s very frustrating, but it’s very rare. Probably less than 1 percent of all searches, probably less than a tenth of a percent of all searches,” Adam said.

Missing Tennessee hiker Largay, 66, is part of that small percentage. After hiking nearly 1,000 miles of the Appalachian Trail from Virginia to Maine, Largay disappeared just 200 miles from Mount Katahdin.

Wardens have conducted 15 searches for Largay and are still looking, but the terrain has made those efforts difficult. Maine’s 281 miles are known to be the trail’s most rugged

“The footing’s sort of treacherous, and you have to pay attention to where you step,” said Adam.

Largay was an experienced hiker and was prepared for her journey through Maine’s western mountains. Wardens believe the trail wasn’t her problem but the woods off the trail.

“I think she got off the trail somehow for some reason — I don’t know why — and there’s some very unique terrain up there. Boulder fields [where] you can stand at the top of the boulder and not see the bottom. Very narrow openings that people can fit through. That’s a theory,” Adam explained.

Theories have developed among local shop owners and motel owners as well — everything from alien abductions to murder.

“She probably hit a crevice or a hole of some sort, ” Ann McKee of the White Wolf Inn and Restaurant said.

“I think one of the main theories is that somebody took her, because where is she? Where [are] her supplies and equipment? There’s no sign of anything,” Mark Humphries, who owns the Northland General store, said.

“All those theories have been looked at, and nothing has popped up,” Adam advised.

Wardens are focusing on 3 or 4 miles around Poplar ridge, the area Largay was last seen. The mystery remains in the woods until she is found, an ending that seems as far away as the length of the trail.

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