66 year old Geraldine Largay from Tennessee set out hiking on the 2,200-mile Appalachian Trail in Western Maine in July 2013.
Unfortunately, Geraldine became lost in a remote part of the trail with no phone signal and never returned. It was over two years until anyone found her body.
Her husband alerted the authorities that she was missing after she failed to show up at a pre-arranged meeting point back in July 2013. Geraldine had been completing the hike with a friend, but this friend had received news of a family emergency fairly early on into the trek and headed back to sort it out. Geraldine headed on alone.
Fragments of desperate text messages sent to her husband and a journal she kept revealed that she became lost after venturing off the trail to find somewhere to relieve herself. Following that she hiked around for 26 days trying to regain her bearings – including hiking to high ground in an attempt to get mobile signal.
She couldn’t find any though and her messages were unreceived. Here are a selection:
- “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” (Text message to her husband, 11:01, 22 July 2013)
- “Lost since yesterday. Off trail 3 or 4 miles. Call police for what to do pls. XOX” (Text message to her husband, 16:18, 23 July 2013)
- “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.” (Note torn out from her journal, 06 August 2013)
The last activity on Geraldine’s mobile phone was on August 6th whilst her last journal entry was August 18th. The authorities report that she died of exposure and starvation three weeks after they called off the search for her, assuming she had already perished. It’s remarkable how long she managed to keep alive out there, it’s just obviously it’s a terrible shame that it wasn’t long enough for anyone to find her or for her to find a way out of her predicament.
Geraldine was eventually found by a forest excavation worker in a tent on an area of land owned by the US Navy used for survival and excavation courses. She was in a collapsed tent and had attempted to build a makeshift fire alongside a flag to attract attention to herself. In her tent were a paper map, a pencil and pen, some cord and twine, a first aid kit, baby powder, toothpaste, her mobile phone a journal and a set of rosary beads. RIP.