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The tragic story of the 66-year-old hiker who disappeared in 2013 on the Appalachian Trail, found dead two years later

Geraldine Largay, also known as Gerry to her family and friends, and Inchworm to her trail family.

By sara burdickPublished about a month ago 4 min read
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Maine Warden Photo Credit

Geraldine was 66 years, a thru-hiker on the Appalachian Trail. The Appalachian Trail is a 2,190-mile trail that goes from Georgia up to Maine; however, Largay started the hike in the middle, at Harpers Ferry, WV, and she planned to hike north and then when she reached the Maine, she would go back to Harpers Ferry and begin her journey south.

At the beginning of her hike, Geraldine was hiking with a friend Jane Lee, and was unfortunately called away for an emergency and had to leave the trail. Later, Lee reports that Gerry had difficulty reading a map and struggled to keep up, so why would she leave her alone? Both took a class by Warren Doyle, who teaches about AT, so maybe Lee thought she would be fine.

Geraldine was a retired air force nurse, who regularly hiked long trails near her Tennesee home, Gerry also had the support of her husband, who met her every few days, as well as messaging him daily to let him know where she was ok, he would also bring her supplies, as she was unable to carry enough to hike without help.

On July 21, 2013, the night before Geraldine disappeared, she stayed at Polar Ridge Lean-to, in western Maine. Geraldine had walked almost 1,000 miles of the AT. On July 22, Geraldine walked off trail to the bathroom and was never seen or heard from again.

No one is certain what happened or how she got so turned around, but if she already had trouble reading a map or compass, it can be surmised she got turned around and wandered off in the wrong direction and possibly panicked when she could not find her way back. Geraldine did realize that she was in trouble at this time and sent a text to her husband:

"In somm 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."

Unfortunately, this text would not be received, as there was no cell service in the area, and it was noted that she tried multiple times to send a message, but none was received.

On July 23, her husband was waiting to meet her on Rt 27 for resupply, and she never showed up. On the 24th, after he did not hear from her for two days, he became concerned, notified officials, and the official search began.

The Maine game warden was in charge of the investigation, which included aircraft, state police, national park rangers, fire departments, and fellow hikers who alerted officials of tips. Yet, she was never found due to the weather and the dense forest.

Geraldine continued to send text messages that were never received:

¨Lost since yesterday. Off-trail 3 or 4 miles. Call police for what to do pls. XOX¨

At some point, Geraldine decided to set up camp and wait to be rescued, which never happened. It was even reported that, at times, many came close to her campsite, but she was not rescued.

Largay was not discovered for another two years, on October 2015, in Redding Township, Maine. A forest surveyor found a ¨ possible body, ¨ even questioning if it was Largay. Lieutenant Kevin Adams stated:

"The possibilities were: it was a human body; it was animal bones, or if it was a human body, was it Gerry Largay?"

He even noted that her campsite was difficult to see unless you were beside it. Along with her remains, they found a notebook that detailed what had happened to her, how she had taken a wrong turn across a stream and lost where she was. The diary entries continued for about a month after her disappearance, and she is believed to have survived for 26 days until she died.

The area she was found was less than two miles from the AT, about a 30-minute walk. She was in the dense woods of the Appalachian mountains, and she must think thought she was further in than she was.

In another area near her, the woods open up where you could see better, and a logging road is only 25 minute's walk. She started with a GPS tracker as well, but it is thought that she lost it along the way.

It is said that Largay died of exposure, and many still question why she didn't walk further looking for help; instead, she waited for help to arrive, which never did. The final request of Largay stated:

"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."

RIP Geraldine ¨Inchworm¨ Largay.

travelinvestigation
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About the Creator

sara burdick

I quit the rat race after working as a nurse for 16 years. I now write online and live abroad, currently Nomading, as I search for my forever home. Personal Stories, Travel and History

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  • Kendall Defoe about a month ago

    I saw a video based on this story. So sad...

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