Geraldine Largay: Appalachian Trail Hiker Found Dead Left Behind Document Of Final Days Spent Lost

Geraldine Largay was found dead on the Appalachian Trail not quite a year ago. The 66-year-old hiker reportedly survived on the trail for nearly one month after getting lost. The New York Daily News reports that Largay left behind a document of those days she spent lost on the trail right up until her death.

Hiking the Appalachian Trail was reportedly on Geraldine Largay’s bucket list. Largay initially set out to hike the trail in 2013 with a partner who had to leave early due to a family emergency, which left Largay alone to finish hiking the approximately 2,200-mile-long Appalachian Trail alone. The last time Largay was seen alive was in a photo taken on July 21, 2013.

Geraldine Largay Photo
The last photo taken of Geraldine Largay one day before the 66-year-old hiker disappeared on the Appalachian Trail.

The photo taken by another Appalachian Trail hiker shows Geraldine Largay standing in the back of a shelter known as the Poplar Ridge lean-to. A note included with the photo says the image was taken sometime in the evening on July 21 at the Poplar Ridge lean-to during the Redington, Maine, hiking trip in Franklin County, Maine.

The note went on to say that Geraldine Largay is shown standing in the back of the lean-to with another hiker standing in the foreground. According to reports, Largay, a Brentwood, Tennessee, native, left the Poplar Ridge lean-to the very next day en route north on the Appalachian Trail to the Spaulding lean-to. Problems reportedly began for Largay when she went off-trail for a bathroom break.

Geraldine Largay’s decision to wander off the Appalachian Trail alone ultimately left her lost and scared. The Portland Press Herald reports that Largay realized she couldn’t find her way back to the trail and attempted to send her husband, George Largay, a phone text around 11 a.m.

“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.”

Due to no cell coverage in the area, George never received Geraldine’s first text message, or the 10 messages that followed within a 90-minute time frame. The following day, Geraldine Largay attempted to message her husband twice more, but then decided to set up camp three to four miles off the Appalachian Trail in the “dense and vast woods of northern Franklin County.”

Recent news says that Geraldine Largay started a journal sometime after she set up a tent on July 23 and documented her time spent lost on the Appalachian Trail for at least 18 days. According to the Boston Globe on May 25, Largay’s last journal entry was on August 18, 2013, 26 days after setting up camp.

Cell phone records also show that Largay attempted several more text messages through August 6. Largay’s last journal entry has not been made public, but a note on August 6 reads, “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.”

News of the journal came out on Wednesday after the Maine Game Warden Service released a 1,579-page report on the disappearance of Geraldine Largay. Largay’s body was found in October, 2015, when someone in charge of the forest stumbled across a tent with remains inside. Also found was Largay’s cell phone, several small notes, and the journal labeled “George Please Read XOXO.”

Even though the Warden Service issued an extensive hunt for Geraldine Largay, reports say that a sleeping bag more than likely prevented search dogs from picking up a scent, and the part of the Appalachian Trail that Largay was lost on is reportedly so remote — two miles off the trail — that the Navy uses that area for evasion and survival training exercises.

George Largay said he supported Geraldine’s wish to “thru-hike” the Appalachian Trail in West Virginia with family friend, Jane Lee. Largay and Lee reportedly started the “thru-hike” in April, 2013, a complete hike of the trail from Springer Mountain in Georgia to Mount Katahdin in Maine that usually takes five to seven months to complete. However, according to the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, only about one in four hikers finish a “thru-hike” due to the rugged terrain, extreme weather conditions, illness, or injury.

[Photo by Billy Hathorn/Wikimedia Commons]