CARRABASSETT VALLEY – The search for a missing hiker from Tennessee entered its sixth day Tuesday as members of the Maine Warden Service and volunteers from area search and rescue groups assembled early at Sugarloaf.

Officials said late Monday they remain “mystified” as to the whereabouts of Geraldine Largay.

“We don’t typically have searches for AT people where they totally disappear,” Lt. Kevin Adam, with the Maine Warden Service, said late Monday. “They are usually on the trail, in known hazard areas or are injured on the trail. But to just totally disappear and get off trail and not on another trail is unique.”

Adam said the search would continue Tuesday but they did not believe Largay was still on the trail or had somehow missed her rendezvous spot and had continued hiking north of the search area.

“She’s not on the Appalachian Trail,” Adam said Monday. “She’s not on some of these side trails.”

He said searchers had also looked for about 100 feet on either side of the AT and the multiple connector or side trails to it. “Does that mean we could have missed her?” he said. “We could have, but it would be rare; she would have to be in a wicked hole that for some reason somebody didn’t look in or somebody walked by. I still feel she’s not very far off the trail and we just haven’t found that little hole yet.”

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Searchers Monday were focusing on a “high probability” search in an area that centered on approximately eight miles of the AT. The area begins about one-half mile south of the Caribou Valley Road and extends south to Route 27, near Rangeley, MacDonald said.

The search area encompasses roughly 81 square miles, he said. Several area searches have been completed.

Largay, 66, was reported missing last Wednesday by her husband who was expecting to meet her in the village of Stratton in the town of Eustis about seven miles north of Sugarloaf.

And while wardens were not ruling out foul play, officials said there was no indication of such.

“We’ve had absolutely no indication of that at this point,” said Lt. John MacDonald, a Warden Service spokesman. MacDonald also said that the service, which is technically a law enforcement agency, had the capacity to investigate with the assistance of state and local officials.

Still, warden investigators were also at the mobile command post Monday, along with U.S. Forest Service rangers and some agents from the U.S. Border Patrol.

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Adam said he, too, had been involved in searches where foul play was involved and so far, they had no evidence of it.

“We are always looking at that stuff,” Adam said. “I know what to look for and I haven’t seen anything yet, but we are doing our due diligence on those kind of scenarios. Believe me, we run the same scenarios through our mind that all the people run and we are trying to figure out tactics to answer those questions.”

Meanwhile, more than 30 people remained involved in an active search that first ramped up late last Thursday and has included as many as 100 people, including members of the local search and rescue teams in Franklin and Oxford counties.

Largay, of Brentwood, Tenn., was believed to be in good health and was in the process of completing a hike on the AT that started in Virginia. The theroy she took a wrong turn and got lost seems unlikely, according to Adam, who said she would have been confronted with dozens, if not hundreds, of other decision points along the way and she had managed fine until the section in Maine where she went missing.

Steve Mitman, a 10-year volunteer with Franklin County Search and Rescue, said he agreed with Adam that officials and volunteers had scoured almost all of the possible ground where they would expect to find Largay or even signs of her.

“This one has really got us all stumped,” Mitman said. “Normally, you kind of have suspicious or the police of suspicious, or there’s a medical history with the person you have hunches about what may have happened. There would be clues, a pack left behind or something, but this one is like a spacecraft popped down and picked her up.”

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Mitman said she also had experience on the trail and had been on it for many miles starting in Virginia. “She knows what she’s doing,” he said.

Largay’s family remained near the mobile command post at Sugarloaf but did not speak to reporters Monday. Adam said they were grateful for all the efforts being made on their behalf.

A band of thundershowers that moved through the mountains Monday afternoon slowed the pace of the search down but did not stall the effort substantially, Adam said.

Also visiting the mobile command post, set up by maintenance garage near the base of the Sugarloaf ski resort, was Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Commissioner Chandler Woodcock.

Woodcock, who lives in Farmington, said there was little information he could add except the effort to find Largay remained ongoing. He said he came to visit the wardens with Warden Service Commander Joel Wilkinson.

Largay is 5-foot-5, 115 pounds, has brown hair, brown eyes and was wearing a black pullover shirt, tan pants and a blue hat while carrying a black-and-green backpack.

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So far, the service has logged the following miles during the search: canine teams: 56.2 miles; hasty/grid teams (ground searchers): 300.2 miles; horse teams: 26.9 miles; and aircraft/helicopter: 338 miles.

Anyone with any information should call the Maine State Police Communications Center in Augusta at (207) 624-7076 or 1-800-452-4664 (Maine only).

Staff Writer Ann Bryant contributed to this report.

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