What’s the longest amount of time that you’ve gone without your cell phone or computer? Most people can’t imagine giving up these modern technologies for a day… let alone seven months! Yet, plenty of intrepid adventurers do just that every year when they set out to hike the Appalachian Trail.
This is the story of Geraldine Largay, a 66-year-old AT hiker who went missing for over two years. Her journal is a lasting reminder of her legacy of love and light.
Keep reading to find out just what happened when Geraldine Largay set out on the trip of a lifetime!
#12 Geraldine Largay
Geraldine Largay was a 66-year-old woman who was determined to make the most out of each day of her life. She fiercely loved her husband and adult child, and was an active member of her community. Yet, she was highly prone to anxiety and afraid of being alone. Despite all of this, she was never one to back down from an adventure.
#11 A Zest For Adventure
Geraldine loved doing anything outside. From hiking, to biking, to climbing — if it was outside, she was in! So, when a childhood friend gave her the opportunity to hike the entire length of the Appalachian Trail, she excitedly agreed. After all, a hike like this one was a once in a lifetime opportunity. She would have been crazy to pass it up!
#10 The Trip Of A Lifetime
Geraldine and her friend made a simple plan. They would head out in June, like hundreds of AT hikers do each year. They would be done by early fall and enjoy a happy holiday season with their families. It was the perfect plan! But, you know what they say about the best-laid plans of mice and men…
#9 About The Trail
The Appalachian National Scenic Trail, or “The AT” for short, is approximately 2,112 miles long. It extends from Springer Mountain in Georgia all the way to Mount Katahdin in Maine. Experienced hikers and campers set out to hike the trail over the course of seven months, yet only 20% of those who begin the journey will ever complete it.
#8 A Hiking Buddy
Geraldine and her hiking buddy had an excellent start to their trip! They set off from Maine (as to avoid the hot summer weather in Georgia), and experienced a few weeks of nice hiking before her friend received an alarming call. Because of a family emergency, he had to return home immediately. This left Geraldine alone on the AT…
#7 Wandering Off
This, it seems, is where Geraldine’s story took a tragic turn. Despite losing her hiking buddy, she chose to continue hiking on her own. Unfortunately, sometime in late July, she wandered off the trail to take a leak. She was never able to find her way back to the AT.
#6 “I’m Lost”
In late July, Geraldine attempted to text her husband and inform him that she was lost. “Send help, I’m lost,” she wrote. Unfortunately, the poor cell reception in rural Maine prevented the messages from ever being delivered. But, when her husband had not heard from her on July 24th like scheduled, he called the police anyway.
#5 The Search
For twenty days, the Maine Department of Parks and Recreation led the largest-scale manhunt in its history. Despite careful searching, they were never able to find Geraldine Largay or her body. Her family accepted that she was likely dead and promptly held a memorial service. They never expected what was going to happen two years later…
#4 An Unexpected Find
In October 2015, film crews for Animal Planet’s show North Woods Law stumbled upon an eerie scene. Just half a mile off the trail, they discovered a yellow tent that was partially covered with leaves. Immediately recalling the story of the hiker who had disappeared two years before, they knew that they would be better off contacting state authorities instead of investigating themselves.
After calling the state authorities, the Discovery Channel crew stepped back so that the professionals could open up the decrepit tent. The originally exciting find took on a much more somber tone when investigators unzipped the flaps and discovered a severely decayed body. At the beginning, though, it didn’t seem like they were ever going to be able to identify the now deceased hiker…
#2 Mrs. Largay
The body that was discovered in the abandoned tent was so severely decayed that investigators believed they wouldn’t even be able to identify the victim. However, a wallet containing an ID card was soon found tucked under a sleeping bag. After confirming that the body found was in fact Geraldine Largay, the police contacted her family. What they discovered next was heartbreaking…
#1 A Note Home
In a journal she left behind, Mrs. Largay wrote a touching note: “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 find me – no matter how many years from now.” Even though it was heartbreaking for them to find out, we are sure that they’re incredibly thankful!
Even though Geraldine Largay never finished hiking the Appalachian Trail, we think it’s safe to say that she left behind a message that will give her family peace and comfort for years to come. They have stated that they know she died doing what she loved, and that they had no regrets about encouraging her to set out on her journey. At the end of the day, that kind of acceptance is something that every single person should seek to find.
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