July 29, 2013

Maine wardens narrow search for missing hiker

They say time could be running out as they look for any sign of Geraldine Largay, 66, of Tennessee.

By JESSE SCARDINA Morning Sentinel

CARRABASSETT VALLEY – The search for a missing Tennessee woman hiking the Appalachian Trail was narrowed Monday as it entered its seventh day, the Maine Warden Service said.

click image to enlarge

This photo taken Saturday, July 20 in Sandy River Plantation at the intersection of Route 4 shows Geraldine Largay in her black rain jacket which she would likely have been wearing in the rain on Tuesday, July 23.

Contributed photo via the Maine Warden Service

click image to enlarge

Geraldine Largay

Contributed photo via Maine Warden Service

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The search area that is most likely to include Geraldine Largay, 66, includes a nine-mile section between Lone Mountain and north to Caribou Pond Road, also known as Caribou Valley Road, in the Stratton area. The road intersects the Appalachian Trail.

Largay, of Brentwood, Tenn., was last seen on July 22. The search has been centered on a 14-mile section of the trail between Lone Mountain and Mount Abram Township and north of Route 27 in Wyman Township.

Cpl. John MacDonald of the warden service said about 30 people and a dog will continue the search for Largay. The large area involved and the topography of the land, however, make it extremely difficult to conduct the search.

"The elevation change is dramatic -- thousands of feet in some spots that turn into thick woods," he said. "When you go to the land, you quickly realize the magnitude of the area."

The search area for the past week -- south of Route 27 in Rangeley -- was more than 81 square miles before it was narrowed.

MacDonald said that while Largay is an experienced hiker, time is not on her side.

"We certainly hope for the best, but as each day goes by the worry gets greater," he said.

MacDonald said that because searchers are working in a vast, mountainous area with no clear information about where she is, the effort is "probably as difficult as it might get."

While MacDonald said search crews continue to work with hikers on the trail, contact has not yet been made with a hiker who said she saw Largay last Tuesday night.

The warden service said the female hiker, whose name they don't know, called the Stratton Motel, where Largay's husband, George, was staying, and said that she was traveling in the opposite direction as Largay and they spent last Tuesday night at the Spaulding Mountain lean-to.

Largay began hiking the Appalachian Trail in Harpers Ferry, W.Va., in April and had traveled about 950 miles before she disappeared.

Her husband had been following her progress to the end of the trail -- the summit of Mount Katahdin about 200 miles from where she was last seen -- and they had been communicating via text message.

On Sunday, July 21, Largay departed Sandy River Plantation near Rangeley and later texted her husband that she was on top of Saddleback Mountain. Largay sent a text to her husband at 7:15 a.m. Monday, July 22, and planned to meet him in Wyman Township the next day, about seven miles away, but she never arrived.

Largay is 5-foot-5, weighs 115 pounds and has brown hair and brown eyes. She was last seen wearing a black pullover shirt, tan pants and a blue hat and carrying a green-and-black backpack. Wardens speculate she may have been wearing a black raincoat Tuesday, when it was raining heavily.

Late last week, George Largay told Portland television station WCSH that if lost, his wife would "use a lot of common sense to give herself the best chance of getting rescued," and he would "call in the cavalry and throw in everything, including the kitchen sink, to find her in one piece."

Police ask anyone with information about Largay to call the Public Safety Dispatch Center in Augusta at 800-452-4664.

 

Jesse Scardina can be contacted at 861-9239 or at:

jscardina@mainetoday.com

 

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