Today is August 8, 2013. Appalachian Trail hiker Geraldine “Gerry” Largay — whose trail name is “Inchworm” — has been missing for 15 days in the wilderness northeast of Rangeley, Maine.
Getting lost in the woods is easy. Finding lost people in the woods isn’t easy, but almost all are located within 24 hours and virtually all are found in 48 hours. Only a fraction of 1% of lost hikers remain missing. That small number, unfortunately, includes our sister, Inchworm, a 66-year-old hiker from Brentwood, TN.
The Appalachian Trail is a subculture. We care for our own. We are kind to strangers. We help one another. We search for the lost. Usually, we find them.
I spoke this morning with Corporal John MacDonald of the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. There is no news to report. Sorry.
Media writers and reporters are forever putting words into the mouths of sources or phasing questions to make them sound like quotes, then printing or reporting the non-information as ”news.”
When I said, “This is all so baffling,” Cpl. MacDonald seemed to quietly agree.
People don’t simply disappear.
It is not possible, in my humble opinion, for someone to hike into those remote mountains, snatch up Gerry Largay, sling her over his or her shoulder and carry her out.
She is an experienced hiker. She rested the night before she went missing. If I understand correctly, it was raining during that time. Rain doesn’t make people vanish.
Experienced, dedicated, highly skilled search and rescue teams methodically looked for Inchworm — day after day — until they could not continue.
Leads — such as the unidentified caller to a local motel whom authorities are no longer seeking — are leading nowhere.
And Geraldine Largay is lost in the woods.
Cellphone data and other clues have been followed. Interviews, searches, logic and awesome efforts from heroes and heroines have all led nowhere.
In the absence of communication and information, we speculate. One of the wisest men I have ever known once told me, “It is impossible to rightly interpret silence.”
We do not know what happened. All we know is Geraldine Largay is lost in the woods.
Search and rescue efforts have been dramatically reduced. Officials continue to seek tips and information from the public or hikers. If you have anything to offer, please call the Public Safety Dispatch Center Augusta at 207-624-7076.
If you have nothing to offer, please pray that Inchworm will be found — alive — along the Appalachian Trail in the wilderness of Maine.