Missing Hiker Geraldine Largay's Official Medical Examiner Report

May we always remember Geraldine "Inchworm Largay" smiling and happy on the final trail of her life.

May we always remember "Inchworm" -- Geraldine Largay -- smiling and happy on the final trail of her life.

"They say" nothing is more psychologically devastating than the death of a spouse or child. It's weird how we can mourn the death of people we've never met ... or even heard of before something happened to them. Such is the case of Appalachian Trail hiker, Geraldine Largay, who went missing from the Trail in Maine on a rainy day in July, 2013.

As news spread, searchers gathered and scoured all along the Trail. Some worriers worried she slipped down a slippery ledge or was washed away in a swollen stream or was kidnapped by strangers or murdered by some marauder.

A big part of the mystery of Geraldine "Inchworm" Largay's disappearance was better understood on October 15, 2015, when a surveyor stumbled upon her remains.

Click Here for Discovery of Geraldine Largay's Remains

As one of many writers who cover the Appalachian Trail for websites or news organizations, I have personally followed the tale from its inception. On many occasions, I have had personal contact with the officials who led the organized efforts to locate Inchworm. In addition, I have had direct contact with unofficial but concerned hikers who organized searches before Geraldine was located. Recently, I have read insinuations from pseudo-investigative writers who believe that I, among others, have been deceived or that I/we are part of a plot to cover up some twisted perversion of the facts that have become known over the years. That is libelous nonsense.

Should you desire to read the State of Maine's Medical Examiner's report on the death of Geraldine Largay, please click on the link below. Here, however, are a few facts:

  • No foul play was suspected regarding her death.
  • The cause of death was "inanition" -- exhaustion caused by lack of nourishment.
  • Evidence showed she died in her sleeping bag, inside the tent. However, her remains were subsequently strewn around the immediate area by animals.
  • Each bone found at the scene was examined and showed no signs of "perimortem" trauma [at or near the time of death]. Trauma to the bones was the result of scavenging animals.

Geraldine went off trail in a storm. We don't know why. She pitched her tent in a small clearing on a knoll. She passed away in her sleeping bag, inside the tent.

No matter how we surmise her demise, one thing is certain. We miss Inchworm. We grew to love her. We shared her plight. For many of us, she will be remembered each time we walk in the woods.

We will not forget Inchworm nor the hundreds of kind individuals who tried to rescue her before it was too late.

Medical Examiner Report for Geraldine Largay -- Lost and Found on the Appalachian Trail


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About the Author Robert Sutherland:
Robert Sutherland is a travel writer enjoying life. Robert has two adult daughters and six grandchildren.
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Comments
john_c47 on Feb 4, 2016
I wonder how far off trail she was. It might be good to consider what can be learned from this because in therory it could happen to anyone, right? How she was provisioned? Should one carry extra food/water? Have an electronic signal device/phone/spare batteries? Have a tent that's bright enough to be seen from a distance? Carry a map and compass? I'd like to hear from experienced thru-hikers.
jeffjapan055 on Feb 11, 2016
See my reply to 'ocarol500'. No one to my knowledge ever got more than 24-48hrs 'lost' on ME AT, no one on this difficult but well blazed AT section before. Longest was 10yr old boy Scout on Katahdin wilderness in 1940's. She had a tent, color yet unknow, bag, water filter, stove, 3+days food, & 1000+mi AT, retired 66 yr old, fit RN. She was known to use many maps & sources b4 each section, assume carried AT map & compass. Husband re-supplied her every 3-5 days in following vehicle. She carried & used cell phone texts to him & friends at daily summits. She was possibly one of best prepared & conditioned thru-hikers according to AT's best hiking teacher, who said one 'most level-headed' in his experience. Too many unanswered questions to say 'closure'.
Charlton Vaughan on Feb 4, 2016
Thank you so much for keeping us informed. Knowing how she passed on is better than imagining all that we humans can imagine otherwise I think. We can always continue asking any numerous amount of questions but I feel it's better to leave it be since we will never know every intimate detail of her moments on the trail. It's also great that her husband and family can now have closure. As far as being even more prepared by knowing more, sometimes attempting to second guess what may happen on the trail, as with any of our journeys in life, can be counter productive to simply enjoying the hike. Humans are frail creatures, as fit as we may be, sometimes our bodies just fail. Anyone who has hiked any amount of hikes or done adventures out in nature can attest that at the end of the day, your body is exhausted. I sometimes, for a brief second, know that at any given moment I could have a heart attack, suffer an aneurysm, etc. I've worked in the medical field while in the military, flown as a medical staff on medivac missions etc, things happen. One prepares for certain things, it's not being morbid, it's just being prepared. Being prepared for a possible plane crash, emergency landing, how to take care of patients health emergencies inflight etc. Like wise on the trail. You will never be able to prepare for everything. But you can be prepared for the normal issues on the trail. We are not in control of everything. So try not to worry about what you can't control within reason and enjoy the trail. I didn't know Geraldine Largay but I feel, through reading about her, that she enjoyed doing what she was doing. To honor her, we should be following her example, and do the same through living life with joy in our step to the very end.
ocarol500 on Feb 7, 2016
I will comment, since I was on the Trail hiking a couple days behind her ... at least for five days until my knees went out.

We can only speculate, so that's all we're doing, trying to comfort our minds.
Gerry had enough food to last until she got to the road crossing to meet her husband. Maybe she had a day or two beyond the expected meeting date. When she got lost in the rain, got turned around, maybe ran out of water (?) and ended up downhill from the Appalachian Trail, any number of things could have clouded her judgment, including a Medical Incident.

She didn't know exactly where she was. She had no cell service (I know, I know, but in the modern age, I think all these wonderful wilderness areas need to reconsider their policies. You all probably disagree, and that's fine, but eventually the entire globe will have cell service.) She and her husband opted not to carry a Spot or a Sat-Phone. She probably expected someone to come looking for her in a day or two and could have rationed her food. She did have water nearby. Weather, iirc, was wet, probably cold. She sets up in her tent to warm up and wait for help to arrive. She has no knowledge that she's in a "restricted" area. Possibly she is unaware that she'll be harder to find if she's inside a sleeping bag and inside a tent, under the canopy of the trees, but where else does one warm up and keep dry? Nearly all of us might do exactly the same.

Although she is stated to be an experienced hiker, she was not a survivalist. Assuming no Medical Incident, there are things a survivalist would consider doing to make her rescue easier.
> She could have torn up or cut up articles of clothing into strips and because she didn't know where she was, walk out from her camp in all directions (staying in sight of camp or blazing a trail to get back to camp) and she could have tied the strips of cloth to trees or tree branches so they could be seen (even if search dogs could not catch a scent).
> She could have gathered low (dry) branches and kept them in her tent to create a fire after the rain stopped in order to signal her position.
> She could have cooked a tea from pine needles for minimal nutrition and warmth/hydration.
There are of course other things, had she known, she might have done.

Which is why the speculation about a Medical Incident may well be more accurate than others. There are as many scenarios and what ifs and maybes as there are hikers trying to find comfort from this very unfortunate and sad situation. Personally, I did some research on Survival Techniques after she was reported as Lost. I was hoping that somehow she'd walk out of the woods and get back on the Trail. I'm sorry she did not. But I am thankful that her remains were found and that now the family can have the real closure, though it brings all the sorrow back into their lives.

I pray that her family is able to find comfort in the knowledge that she is no longer lost somewhere in Maine.

And may I suggest that we all learn a few survival skills to add to our backpacking skills.
Backpacking is more than just putting one foot in front of the other and following the blazes.

Peace to everyone.
jeffjapan055 on Feb 11, 2016
Sutherland wrote same as ALDHA Winter '16 e-Newsletter based on false premise it was raining day she went missing, which you & others innocently but wrongly repeat. Fact: Monday July 22, 2013 weather records for Rangeley (nearest weather station 15mi nw) record warm (60-70's), partly sunny. Even at 2000' elevation it would be similar weather in windless woods & sun. Nothing below 50 in am, higher 60's if not 70 on open sunny trail during day? No rain until Tuesday am, mod. heavy yes, but stopped by 4pm. All matter of record. So, as you say enough food to wait out rain day in tent, then move on. Rain did not stop others on AT around her. See media reports interviews.

reports of MWS at time of search
ocarol500 on Feb 11, 2016
Okay - I got off the Trail and never made it passed PA. I wasn't there. Perhaps it was a Medical Emergency. Perhaps she wasn't thinking clearly. We may never know. We speculate to help ourselves cope.

Hindsight indicates hikers, no matter how expert they think they are, might wish to travel with a partner or two through Maine (or before). Perhaps had there been one, the hike would have had a different outcome.

May Gerry Rest in Peace.
john_c47 on Feb 11, 2016
It was good to read the comments here. Thank you all.
Alelis Duncan on Mar 7, 2016
The coroner said Geraldine died from "inanition due to environmental exposure" QUESTION: how the hell Geraldine Largay supposedly a healthy person got into her sleeping bag and died from "inanition"??? I cannot believe such a bullshit. I cannot believe that because her body was inside that sleeping bag "dogs could not get a scent" as the coroner said. Something more horrific happened. Think about it, don't fall for lies. Something is making people disappear in the woods and kills them
Alelis Duncan on Mar 7, 2016
The coroner's report is bullshit. How the fuck Geraldine got into her sleeping back and die from "inanition due to environmental exposure" ??? You have to be an idiot to believe this. There are thousands of people who are disappearing in our national forests. Some are found dead, some are never found. The ones found dead, the circumstances of their deaths make no sense are too weird. How the dogs went nearby their corpse and could not pick a scent? How the searchers could not see the tent? What is abducting and killing people in national forests is a top secret. Supernatural entities, aliens, I don't think Geraldine died of natural causes or "inanition". She was the victim of those things out there in the forest killing people
barbie a on Jul 31, 2016
Why do people do dangerous things at that age? You think you're invincible in youth, but not age. We have to spend time and money and take risks to find them. Its like a drug addict getting high, because it feels good. No one admires that. Its still dangerous and irresponsible. She took the risk, I'm not sure why anyone has to go and find them at all. Its the chance she took. Why go so far into the woods to go to the bathroom? What's up with that? Is is some misplaced modesty? Dont go camping if youre a total prude. Couldn't she go behind the nearest tree? Didn't she think of her family? Why hike with a girlfriend when you have a husband? So weird. I think she had some problems with her aging mind to attempt this that wasn't diagnosed yet.