A couple of dozen people plan to continue looking for missing Appalachian Trail hiker Geraldine Largay with the aid of search dogs in the coming weeks.
Largay, 66, from Tennessee, was reported missing July 24 while hiking the Appalachian Trail from West Virginia to Maine. After a week of extensive searching, the Maine Warden Service scaled back the search but left the investigation open and welcomed any new leads.
“We will continue to search as long as we can reasonably believe that we can find something,” Cpl. John MacDonald said on Thursday, adding that any chance at closure for Largay’s family and friends is worth the search. “It still hasn’t been too long, and if there is the likelihood that we can find something, we will search. That’s what we do.”
While no new leads were reported, according to MacDonald, the search will pick up in a couple of weeks with about 25 searchers and some search dogs. The warden service also has put up posters at popular trails and hunting locations in the area, showing a photo of Largay and details about her and her disappearance.
“Every case is different, and we’re certainly not closing this one,” MacDonald said. “As time goes on, we’ll continue searching, weather and schedule permitting.”
The news of Largay’s disappearance has spread among hikers who continue to call or email wardens, MacDonald said.
“The hiking community is tightly knit, so I get the feeling that word about Largay has spread,” MacDonald said. “Many hikers are more diligent, looking for anything that could help while they’re hiking.”
MacDonald said dozens of them have called with potential tips, some of which have been helpful, while others prove to be fruitless.
“We’ve talked to people claming to see (Largay), and it wasn’t her,” MacDonald said.
Largay’s last confirmed sighting, according to the warden service, was on July 22, when an unidentified female hiker took a picture of her at Poplar Ridge lean-to. MacDonald said the female hiker provided useful information that helped narrow Largay’s potential whereabouts, but he would not say anymore about the woman.
He also said the warden service has contacted hiker Trevor Pike, whose father wrote in a blog that Pike had interacted with Largay, but he wouldn’t comment further.
He said the information is kept confidential because of the ongoing missing-person investigation, which is typical during a search for a missing hiker.
MacDonald also would not comment about the tip the warden service received about a hiker who reportedly stayed with Largay at the Spaulding Mountain lean-to the night before she was reported missing.
“We’re not naming who the caller is, because the information that she provided may have been interpreted incorrectly,” he said.
MacDonald said in a previous email that the warden service knows Largay didn’t spend the night at the Spaulding lean-to before she disappeared.
The posters have been placed throughout the region where Largay was hiking.
“Hunting season is coming up, and we want to get word out to those who haven’t heard about it yet,” MacDonald said.
When Largay was reported missing, she was a day overdue for a meeting with her husband, George Largay, who had communicated with her throughout the trip via text messages and met her periodically to replenish her supplies. George Largay was planning to meet his wife July 23 in Wyman Township for supplies, but after a day passed with no sign of his wife, he reported her absence.
MacDonald said Largay’s husband waited a day because the poor weather and the trail’s rough terrain prompted him to give her more time to show up.
Largay started her hike in April, 950 miles south in West Virginia and was about 200 miles from the Appalachian Trail’s northern end, Mount Katahdin’s Baxter Peak, when she disappeared. The warden service said 98 percent of people reported missing are found within 48 hours.
George Largay told the Tennessean newspaper in August that his family isn’t giving up hope but is moving on. Plans for a memorial service for his wife are set for Oct. 12 outside Atlanta, where the couple lived for many years, according to McNeely Pigott & Fox Public Relations. Largay has been a client of the firm for 15 years for business purposes, according to the company.
Jesse Scardina — 861-9239