Sad discovery in USA of missing walker 2 years later who left a Journal a sad tale – lessons to be learned?

In 2007 I had a great trip to the USA where I spoke at various conferences including as the Keynote speaker in Stowe in the USA Mountain Rescue Conference. For 6 weeks before I went to Yosemite to work with the Yosemite SAR I was at Unity College in Maine as the guest of Mick Wormsley and ex RAF Team member and who was a lecturer at Unity College. He also ran the local MR Team and when I was over I worked with some of the Maine SAR Services, a great bunch of people and attended theIr Conference on one the weekends. I also got out a bit and climb the biggest hill in the area Mount Katahdin it is very remote and wild country with massive forestry and thick undergrowth, very different from UK SAR. I learned a lot on my trip and met some incredible people in the SAR Community, many would be involved in the huge Search for a missing hiker Geraldine Largay that had a sad ending.

The end or start of the Appalachain Trail Mount Katahdin

2007 – The end or start of the Appalachian Trail Mount Katahdin – a wild area.

This is extremely wild country and if you venture of the trail it is thick and uncompromising ground.  In the news recently was the sad tale of the search and the finding of  a missing walker some two years after the search ended. It is a sad story and Geraldine survived for a month after getting lost on the trail and kept a journal of her sad demise.


location of remains

The Appalachian National Scenic Trail, generally known as the Appalachian Trail or simply the A.T., is a marked hiking trail in the Eastern United States extending between Springer Mountain in Georgia and Mount Katahdin in Maine.] The trail is approximately 2,200 miles (3,500 km)a] long.


Appalachian Trail hiker Geraldine Largay survived for nearly a month after getting lost along the trail in Franklin County in July 2013, and documented her final days in a journal that was among the personal effects found by the Maine Warden Service when it recovered her remains more than two years later.The journal entries, as well as text messages she tried to send her husband on a cellphone that also was recovered, were among documents released Wednesday by the warden service that paint a picture of a slight misadventure that turned tragic when a massive search-and-rescue effort scoured the vast area in vain.

Problems began for Largay, a 66-year-old hiker from Brentwood, Tennessee, when she got lost after leaving the trail for a bathroom break while heading north en route to the Spaulding lean-to on July 22, 2013. At 11 a.m., she used her blue Samsung phone to text her husband: “In some 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.”

But the message wouldn’t transmit because there was no cell coverage in the area. She tried sending the text 10 more times over the next hour and a half.

The next day, walking west through the dense and vast woods of northern Franklin County, seeking a higher elevation in the hopes of getting a cellphone signal, she tried texting her husband again at 4:18 p.m.: “Lost since yesterday. Off trail 3 or 4 miles. Call police for what to do pls. Xox.”

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A few thoughts, comments welcome

Geraldine Largay ended up walking alone after she went for a break and was unsure of where she was and did not like being on her own.  Her walking companion waited and then moved on expecting her to catch up, she never did!

She had a compass with her and map and this should have given her the assistance to find her way out ? Reports state she was not proficient in navigation, by following a simple direction on the compass this would have taken her back to the trail.

In the USA it is advised/ taught if possible to light a fire if lost in the wilds, with care even in a forestry and get smoke to attract attention or make a sign on any open ground for help. Sadly this was not done.

She had left her beacon in a Hotel and this would have brought her help if she had set it off.

Her phone would not transmit or receive messages which she was unaware of and she sent several heart rending messages asking for help that never got out. In UK we have an Emergency text Service are you registered?

A tragic tale. And so many lessons?

About heavywhalley.MBE

Mountain Rescue Specialist. Environmentalist. Spent 37 years with RAF Mountain Rescue and 3 years with a civilian Team . Still an active Mountaineer when body slows, loves the wild places.
This entry was posted in Enviroment, Equipment, Family, Friends, Lectures, Mountain rescue, Mountaineering, Views Mountaineering, Weather. Bookmark the permalink.

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