Geraldine Largay, a hiker who went missing on the Appalachian Trail in western Maine in 2013 and whose body eventually was found two years later, may have been alive for at least 26 days after her disappearance, according to a Maine Warden Service report.
Largay, a 66-year-old hiker from Brentwood, Tennessee, last was seen on July 22, 2013. According to the warden service report, Largay kept a journal during the days after her disappearance was reported. That journal included entries up until Aug. 18, 2013 — 26 days after she last was seen.
“She would write in her journal every day with a day and a date and a passage,” Warden Lt. Kevin Adam wrote in the report. “The passages were consistent every day and there were written entries up to Aug. 10, 2013. There was nothing from Aug. 11-17. The last entry was dated on Aug. 18. We are unsure if this is a correct date or not.”
A note dated Aug. 6, on a torn-out journal page, read, “When you find my body, please call my husband George and my daughter Kerry. It will be the greatest kindness for them to know that I am dead and where you found me — no matter how many years from now. Please find it in your heart to mail the contents of this bag to one of them.”
The report includes indications from the Maine Warden Service that Largay tried to text her husband after becoming disoriented. Largay was in a mountainous area and the texts were not delivered. Wardens concluded that Largay made her way to higher ground to get better cellphone coverage, and established a campground on a knoll.
Largay’s hike apparently went off plan on July 22. In a text composed at 11:01 a.m., she wrote to her husband: “In somm (sic) trouble. Got off trail to go to br. Now lost. Can u call AMC to c if a trail maintainer can help me. Somewhere north of woods road. Xox.”
Largay tried the send the message a total of 11 times over the next hour and a half. Then, at 4:18 p.m. and again at 4:39 p.m. a day after she first became lost, she tried to send another message: “Lost since yesterday. Off trail 3 or 4 miles. Call police for what to do pls. Xox.”
According to the report, she set up a tent and made use of her rain gear and a mylar blanket, which reflects a body’s heat and keeps a person warm.
The Maine Warden Service declined comment on the report. At 2 p.m. Wednesday, spokesman Cpl. John MacDonald said the Maine Warden Service is preparing an official statement on the report that he hopes to release within the next 24 to 36 hours, but said senior wardens would not issue any statements before then.
Largay’s remains were found on the morning of Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2015, by a contractor conducting a forestry survey as part of an environmental impact statement on property owned by the U.S. Navy in Redington Township, according to MacDonald. The contractor reported his findings to the Navy, which alerted the Maine Warden Service.
The site where Largay’s remains were found was described as a heavily forested area about 3,500 feet east of the easterly shore of Redington Pond, north of the AT.
Largay had been following the famous AT since April 2013, when she started hiking north on the trail at Harpers Ferry, West Virginia. She planned to finish her long-distance hike at the trail’s northern terminus atop Katahdin, Maine’s tallest mountain.
To the AT hiking community, Largay was known by the trail name “Inchworm.”
She last was seen by two fellow hikers at Poplar Ridge Lean-to, a shelter on the Appalachian Trail, just north of Saddleback Mountain on July 22, 2013. From there, she planned to hike north 8 miles and spend the night at Spaulding Mountain Lean-To. On July 23, she planned to hike about 13 miles over several mountains to meet her husband where the AT crosses Route 27. When she didn’t show up as planned, her husband notified authorities.
The search for Largay began on July 24, when Maine wardens and dog teams conducted what is called a “hasty search,” a method in which searchers look in likely areas and paths of least resistance such as old woods roads and streambeds.
This hasty search was followed up with several extensive searches conducted by the Maine Warden Service, state police and the Maine Association of Search and Rescue along the 23-mile stretch of the AT and surrounding land. No evidence of Largay’s location was uncovered during these searches, though three cadaver dog teams came within about a hundred yards of the site where the remains were found.
According to a previous BDN story, MacDonald said that one team of cadaver dogs passed near the site on Aug. 8, 2013 (before Largay wrote her final journal entry) while the other two teams passed near the site in 2014.