Incredibly odd development in the Geraldine Largay case

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Brambor

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You did not factor in her age. Ask someone who works in elderly care about how this could happen. We'll all be there one day.

Weird. How far does one go off trail for a biobreak, so as to not be able to find their way back?
 

Stan

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I don't find it odd at all. There are many reasons it could have played out this way from the physical and/or mental weariness of a long hard trail to a simple rule of successful SAR, when in doubt stay put. From our relaxed keyboards it is easy to second guess a way out of the situation, especially for those with some familiarity of the area. But from the point of view of the circumstances, those North Maine Woods are as big as the universe.

Two themes I read into this are a message of love and of inner peace.
 

erugs

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I still find it very odd. Perhaps someday more of her journal will be released. I don't think any amount of information will make this sad event go away any time soon. I know a lot of people the age she was (and am one of them) so I would not be quick to make the assumption that her age had anything to do with it.
 

TCD

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One good thing to come out of this: Many of us read "accident reports" with an eye toward learning. Was there a particular mistake that the (hiker, climber, skier, whatever) made that I can learn to avoid for myself? In climbing accident reports, the mistakes are usually very specific (tied such and such knot the wrong way, for example) and the results are usually very prompt and traceable. In hiking, it's usually much more general and blurry. But in this case, it's good to finally get a very specific learning from this.

For me, this is one I have always practiced, but many folks might benefit. When I am hiking alone, in a remote area where I am really RELYING on the trail to get back out, I make sure I know where the trail is. When I leave the trail, even for a bathroom break, I take a bearing so I can be sure to find the trail again afterward.

Sad for the family, but knowing what actually happened may provide some closure.
 

erugs

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I wonder if the family has agreed to let more information out than they initially had for that very reason. "We" need some help with closure, too. Some have said we are being morbid by going over and over this incomplete information, to let her RIP. I think she'd be more likely to RIP (if that is possible) by having us all feel more informed. TCD you are right about these events being part of our education.
 

kamoore63

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Keep in mind how incredibly dense the north woods are. The military uses this area for their highly intensive SERE training. And I'll never forget the Lear Jet that crashed on its way to Lebanon NH in 1996 and wasn't found until 3 years later in spite of one of the biggest aerial searches in New England history.
 

Grey J

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It is not morbid interest on the part of hikers to try and analyze what went wrong and how this could happen. Deconstructing tragedies to prevent future tragedies is useful and intelligent work. I think the ongoing fascination here is that many of us can't imagine how searchers failed to locate her. Its not that a person can't get lost, its just so amazing that she was not found alive when she was camped so close to where she lost the trail. I can't help wondering if searchers shied away from the Navy SERE facility boundary where she was eventually found. I feel bad for everyone: Gerry, her family, and the search team that failed to locate her. I'm sure they did their best.
 

skiguy

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It is not morbid interest on the part of hikers to try and analyze what went wrong and how this could happen.
I disagree. This statement is a generalization. As much as you have your opinion others have the right to state their opinion and feelings. Personally I can see what your saying but I can also see others interpretations and that should be respected. I do believe also in these matters being discussed on Internet forums poster's tone can be misconstrued quite easily. In general I do agree that some good can come from analyzing accidents, rescues and mishaps in the woods.
 

iAmKrzys

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I am glad Maine Warden Service finally released some specific information that obliterates lots of speculation for most people watching this case.

There are many important lessons that can be drawn from Inchwarm's disappearance. For me personally, the two most important takeaways are:
  1. It is incredibly easy to get lost in dense woods, especially if there are no distinct landmarks to guide you back to trail. I really think that one could be just 50 feet off trail and if distracted could start walking in wrong direction and never hit the original trail again. The trees can really look alike after a while.
  2. Having offline maps on a smartphone or gps can be extremely important in figuring out where you are and how to get to where you want to be. Alternatively a satellite tracking device can also help if everything else fails.
 

Grey J

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As much as you have your opinion others have the right to state their opinion and feelings. Personally I can see what your saying but I can also see others interpretations and that should be respected.

I don't believe I have denigrated or failed to show respect for other interpretations. I have simply stated my opinion. You are certainly entitled to yours. It doesn't sound like we are that far apart. Gerry was about my age and also from Tennessee.
 

TEO

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Having offline maps on a smartphone or gps can be extremely important in figuring out where you are and how to get to where you want to be. Alternatively a satellite tracking device can also help if everything else fails.

I think you're slightly off the most important lesson, which is: you should carry a GPS and/or a map & compass, & you need to have sufficient skill to use them even when you're turned around, confused, anxious/worried/scared, & possibly hungry/tired. Carrying them is one thing, but it takes some degree of practical use to get to the point where you can rationally figure out how to get un-lost with these tools in spite of your mental/physical state.

When all else fails, the satellite tracking device or PLB will also fail; a map & compass will likely be the last thing to fail.

Lastly, I disagree with the thread title: that she survived for so long is not odd—to me that alludes to a conspiracy—it is surprising, and makes the case all the more tragic.
 
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TJsName

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Lastly, I disagree with the thread title: that she survived for so long is not odd—to me that alludes to a conspiracy—it is surprising, and makes the case all the more tragic.

I think the 'odd' part is that we found out exactly what happened (more or less), not that what happened was odd. Normally we are left with loosely drawn conclusions.
 

una_dogger

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I've read on some other online discussions that she wasn't carrying a map? Can anyone corroborate??

So sad that the journal seems to describe her as simply lost and waiting for help???

Without a map, she wouldn't have known that walking downslope just about anywhere in that area would lead to the CRV.
 

Trail Boss

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I don't recall reading anything indicating about lacking a map. However, she did not have a compass.
http://www.pressherald.com/2016/05/...achian-trail-didnt-know-how-to-use-a-compass/
A hiking companion alleged she didn't know how to use a compass, had a poor sense of direction, and became flustered when disoriented.

Even if she didn't have a map, she ascended the slope (rangers speculate it was to acquire better cellphone reception). It shouldn't require a map to descend the slope. Yet, she didn't; she stayed put.

David Boomhower died under similar circumstances (1990). He strayed off the Northville-Placid Trail, became lost, and stayed put, waiting for a rescue that never found him. A hunter found his body well after the search was terminated.

Largay and Boomhower were well-versed in trail-walking yet were navigationally illiterate. When lost, their strategy was to stay put and wait for rescue, forever. Tragic.
 

sierra

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Being lost is a unique thing. Unless you have been truly lost, it's hard to say how well you would do. There have been many cases of lost people, who could have easily saved themselves, but failed to do so. There are cases when staying put makes the most sense, other times, it's a big mistake. Some people may make pretty good hikers, but have poor survival skills. In a survival situation, one wrong decision can cost you. If this lady had the ability to keep a journal, then I'd speculate, her decision was made to hunker down and wait. If that was her choice initially, given what I've read about her compass skill's, it wasn't the worst choice. That being said, a time came when she needed to change her plan and move. I mean at some point when you feel like the clock is running on your physical ability to get up and try and walk out, you change your initial plan and try before you run out of options. Granted this is all speculation, there maybe things we will never know. After all my year's in the backcountry, I've been lost twice, once here in the Whites, no big deal, easy to get out. Once out west pretty far in, it does get the blood flowing when your alone at the time.:eek:
 

iAmKrzys

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I think you're slightly off the most important lesson, which is: you should carry a GPS and/or a map & compass, & you need to have sufficient skill to use them even when you're turned around, confused, anxious/worried/scared, & possibly hungry/tired. Carrying them is one thing, but it takes some degree of practical use to get to the point where you can rationally figure out how to get un-lost with these tools in spite of your mental/physical state.

When all else fails, the satellite tracking device or PLB will also fail; a map & compass will likely be the last thing to fail.

I contemplated listing map and compass but decided to omit it because of required skills that I believe are harder to come by then just turning on a smartphone and opening a map app (not that these skills are not important.) I think an effective use of a map requires that the hiker has at least an approximate idea of where s/he is and then follows a sensible direction that should result in crossing a trail or some road. If a trail makes turns an unlucky person could travel parallel to that trail for a long time without having any clue where s/he is.

I think this quote from http://www.adirondacklifemag.com/blogs/2015/08/12/lost/ describes pretty well the situation I'm thinking about:
In an essay titled “Lost in the Woods,” first published in The Atlantic Monthly in February 1878, Warner described how he got turned around trying to return to Keene Valley from a camp on the Upper Ausable. Hoping to do some fishing along the way, Warner veered off the cart road he was following and made for the river. “So sure was I of my whereabouts,” he wrote, “that I did not note the bend of the river, nor look at my compass.” There was thunder, rain, and the skies grew dark. Warner eventually found his way to the road, about three miles from where he thought he was. The experience clearly humbled him and even modified his view of nature and wilderness. “The society of the least human being is better than this gigantic indifference,” he wrote. “The ‘rapture on the lonely shore’ is agreeable only when you know you can at any moment go home.”
 

carla

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I bet many of us have been in the same situation (I know I have) where you just get disoriented really quickly off the trail. I've had my little moments of panic, but luckily calmed myself down and steered myself back to the trail. The NYT article mentioned that she had anxiety attacks...who knows maybe she just could not get to that moment of calm, ever, and her panicky feeling kept spiraling and she got more and more tangled up in the woods. It is so sad, really. I love the picture or her in the NYT--she looks so happy and fit and healthy--a strong hiker and nothing frail or "old" about her. RIP...
 

ChrisB

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But from the point of view of the circumstances, those North Maine Woods are as big as the universe.
Two themes I read into this are a message of love and of inner peace.

I think she showed incredible courage... continuing on solo into Maine after her companion dropped out. She certainly knew the the Big Woods were coming and the rigors of the 100 Mile. And still she kept on.

I give her a loud and posthumous "YOU GO GIRL!!" for her grit and pluck.

May we all be so brave when facing our next adversity, inner or outer.
cb
 
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