Warren Doyle says he advised Geraldine Largay and her husband to meet up at a certain road intersecting with the Appalachian Trail in Maine.

Largay, who was meeting up with husband, George, at points, chose not to take that advice and instead planned a meeting point farther north.

It would turn out that Largay got lost off the trail — and later died in the woods — before that intersection Doyle says he pointed out. Had the couple planned to meet at Barnjum Road in Mount Abram Township, Largay might have been reported missing earlier after not meeting her husband, and search and rescuers might have had a clearer idea of where she went missing and less area to search.

The search would have focused efforts on the forest area around a roughly four-mile stretch of trail instead an eight-mile stretch.

“Myself, and I haven’t talked to him, but I’m sure George wonders too, if he went into this road to wait for her … then at least they would have known exactly where she was,” Doyle said in a recent phone interview with the Morning Sentinel.

After completing Doyle’s five-day thru-hike preparation course, Largay and her husband decided she would day-hike the trail rather than backpack it. Doyle said he later sat down with the couple highlighting on a map the roads that intersected the trail.

George Largay was supporting his wife and her hiking partner, Jane Lee, through their hike of the northern portion of the Appalachian Trail, meeting them where roads intersected the trail, resupplying them and often bringing them to hotels or motels for the evening. Lee left the hike due to a family emergency on June 30, 2013, and Largay decided she would finish the Maine stretch of the trail alone.

In Maine, Doyle said he told the Largays about Barnjum Road, which intersects the AT about halfway between Routes 4 and 27 — the stretch of the trail where Largay’s fate was sealed. Despite being aware of this road, Largay and her husband decided she would backpack that section, staying two nights at established lean-tos along the trail.

On July 21, 2013, George Largay would drop his wife off where the trail intersected Route 4. He hiked with her out to Piazza Rock before he left her on the trail and headed back to his car. The plan was for Largay to spend the night of July 21 at the Poplar Ridge lean-to, then set out on July 22 to hike approximately eight miles to the Spaulding Mountain lean-to, where she was supposed to spend the night before hiking out to meet her husband where the trail intersected Route 27 in Wyman Township.

George Largay reported his wife missing on July 24, a day after she was supposed to meet him at Route 27. According to a report by Maine Warden Service investigator Philip Dugas within the agency’s 1,579-page report on Largay, George Largay waited the extra day to report her missing because of inclement weather on July 23 that he believed could have set her back given the difficult terrain in that stretch of the trail.

Since the discovery of her remains in October 2015 — less than a mile off the trail in Redington Township — it has been revealed that she never made it to the Spaulding Moutain lean-to and she was about two or three miles from Poplar Ridge, the last place she was seen on the trail.

The warden service launched its extensive search for Largay on July 25, 2013. Due to several tips that would turn out to be false, early on in the investigation it was believed that Largay had made it to Spaulding lean-to, and the search was focused in that area.

A call made by an unknown caller to the Stratton Motel on July 24 stating that Largay had made it to Spaulding Mountain and to tell her husband that she would be late was the first false indication that Largay may have made it to Spaulding Mountain. That call was later determined to be either misinterpreted or misreported.

Dugas’s report mentions that a call made to the inn on July 24 by a northbound hiker with the trail name “Kaleidoscope” was likely the call that was misinterpreted. The hiker had called Susan Critchlow at the Stratton Motel around 2:30 p.m. July 24 to tell her that “something was going on with a hiker known as ‘Inchworm’ and that someone needed to started looking for her,” the report states.

It is unclear in the report when this revelation occurred.

Additionally, a group of teenage boys hiking southbound on the trail told warden service investigators they had seen an elderly woman with distinctive glasses during their descent of Lone Mountain on July 22. For more than a week, the warden service believed that Largay was the hiker the boys had seen, according to Dugas’s report.

Extensive grid searches of the area were conducted until Aug. 4, when the warden service scaled back its search.

On Aug. 8, warden service investigators were able to interview a female hiker who had stayed at Poplar Ridge the night of July 21 with Largay. The woman departed the lean-to around 9:30 a.m. July 22, after Largay had already left. The woman hiked the stretch of trail between Poplar Ridge and Spaulding lean-tos on July 22 and told investigators that she never passed Largay. However, the female hiker did pass the three boys while they were descending Lone Mountain on the afternoon of July 22. The report states that she is clear in her recollection of the boys, and that she herself wears a pair of distinctive eyeglasses.

When the warden service realized she had never made it to Spalding lean-to, the search then re-focused toward the area of the Poplar Ridge lean-to.

Barnjum Road is approximately halfway between the Poplar Ridge and the Spaulding Mountain lean-tos, and about four miles from Poplar Ridge. Doyle said the road is blocked off about a mile from the trail, but it could be easily walked. He does not know why the couple decided not to meet on that road.

In the weeks that followed her disappearance, searchers with dogs came close to Largay’s campsite, including at least once missing it by about 100 yards of where her remains were found.



Lauren Abbate — 861-9252

[email protected]

Twitter: @Lauren_M_Abbate


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