One doesn’t vanish without a trace from the Appalachian Trail in Maine.

But Geraldine “Gerry” Anita Largay, 66, did a year ago Tuesday. However, Maine’s biggest-ever search for a missing AT hiker didn’t start right away.

When Largay failed to show up at a prearranged meeting place with her husband, George, on Route 27 in Wyman Township just north of the Sugarloaf ski resort on July 24, he alerted authorities.

Largay of Brentwood, Tenn., was an experienced hiker and backpacker who was attempting to hike the Appalachian Trail from West Virginia to Mount Katahdin in northern Maine. She left Harper’s Ferry, W. Va., on April 23, 2013.

The Maine Warden Service believes she vanished on July 22. Largay is 5 feet, 5 inches tall, weighs 115 pounds and has brown hair and brown eyes.

On the morning of Sunday, July 21, 2013, Largay left her husband at the Route 4 AT crossing in Sandy River Plantation near the town of Rangeley.

Later that day, she texted her husband to say she was on top of Saddleback Mountain, according to the Maine Warden Service’s update posted late Tuesday afternoon on the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildife’s Facebook site.

Investigators confirmed from hiker interviews that Largay stayed the night at the Poplar Ridge lean-to on the night of Sunday, July 21.

On the morning of Monday, July 22, section hiker Dottie Rust took the last known photograph of a smiling Largay, who was wearing a light-red pullover and tan shorts, according to a Winter 2013 article by Bill O’Brien, editor-in-chief of The Long Distance Hiker, a newsletter of the Appalachian Long Distance Hikers Association.

That morning, Largay texted her husband and indicated she was again headed north on the AT. Her next stop would have been the Spaulding Mountain lean-to, 8 miles away. Geraldine’s plan was to meet her husband on Tuesday, July 23.

Largay, who used the trail name “Inchworm,” never made it.

The Maine Warden Service conducted an extensive search for more than 10 days by more than 100 wardens and volunteers, along with search dogs, horses, an airplane and a helicopter.

An initial, 81-square-mile search area was narrowed to about 4.2 square miles in remote, steep and often thickly wooded terrain.

Lt. Kevin Adam of the Maine Warden Service told the Sun Journal last summer that wardens believed Largay had all of her gear and belongings still with her, because they hadn’t found any of her belongings.

On Tuesday, the warden service’s Facebook post stated that it had found no attributing evidence linked to Largay or her personal belongings that would help investigators determine her location.

Adam said last summer that most lost hikers in Maine are found within the first 24 hours of being reported missing.

At an Aug. 4, 2013, news conference, Adam said the wardens’ investigation had determined Largay never made it to the Spaulding Mountain lean-to, as they previously believed.

The stretch of the Appalachian Trail that Largay vanished in is part of a 32-mile section between Routes 4 and 27 that is described as “the most difficult along the AT in Maine” by the Maine Appalachian Trail Club’s Appalachian Trail Guide to Maine.

Poplar Ridge lean-to is at 3,120 feet of elevation and the AT descends steeply most of the way for about 3 miles to Orbeton Stream, which it crosses in a deep canyon at about 1,700 feet of elevation.

At the top of Redington Pond Falls, the trail crosses a gravel road that used to be the railroad bed of the Sandy River and Rangeley Lakes narrow gauge railroad. The AT continues up 3,280-foot Lone Mountain, 1.1 miles from which is a side trail to the 4,043-foot summit of Mount Abraham.

The Aug. 4 search focused on wooded areas off that side trail connecting the AT to Mount Abraham near the township of Madrid.

From that side trail junction, it’s just over a mile to the Spaulding Mountain lean-to that Largay never reached.

A search was conducted this year on June 17. This time, wardens, state police, Mahoosuc and Franklin County search and rescue teams, and federal border patrol workers walked the Redington Township area. They didn’t find any trace of Largay.

Warden Service Cpl. John MacDonald said on June 18 that the search focused on areas that had not been searched and previously searched areas that included very difficult terrain requiring additional search efforts.

“Like previous search efforts, yesterday’s efforts provided no clues that could be attributed to Geraldine or her location,” MacDonald said.

Tuesday’s Facebook post said the warden service coordinated several searches this year with aircraft, ground searchers and dog teams when weather and resources have permitted.

Largay’s family offered a $15,000 reward to anyone who can provide information to investigators that helps locate her.

The Warden Service continues to seek information that can lead to Largay’s location or people with information about other hikers or people in the area of Poplar Ridge lean-to on July 22, 2013.

They are asked to share that information with the service by calling the Maine Public Safety Department at 207-624-7076.

[email protected]


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