A missing hiker whose body was discovered two years after she went missing reportedly kept a journal that shows she survived for at least 26 days.
Geraldine Largay, 66, from Brentwood, Tennessee, was hiking the Appalachian trail in Maine with her husband in July of 2013. Largay allegedly stepped off the trail to use the bathroom and got lost in the woods where there was no cellphone reception.
The Boston Globe reports that Largay tried texting her husband, to no avail. She then used a black composition notebook as a journal and began penning entries -- some rather heartbreaking:
“When you find my body, please call my husband George and my daughter Kerry. It will be the greatest kindness for them to know that I am dead and where you found me — no matter how many years from now. Please find it in your heart to mail the contents of this bag to one of them.”
The bag included the cellphone which Largay used to text her husband as well as the journal itself.
According to the Daily Mail, Largay's disappearance sparked one of the largest and most extensive search operations in the Warden Service's history. The search covered 23 square miles, and involved wardens and volunteers scouring the heavily-wooded area.
The area where Largay was found was so dense with trees that rescuers came within 100 yards of her campsite several times without discovering it, the Daily Mail reports. Largay's remains were eventually discovered accidentally by a pair of surveyors doing environmental work.
The property where her body was recovered is used by U.S. Navy SEALS as a survival training facility.
The final entry in Largay's journal is dated Aug. 18, leading rescuers to conclude that she remained alive for at least 26 days. The Boston Globe reports that Largay created a flag out of a branch and shirt and attempted unsuccessfully to start a large fire that would signal her location.
The Globe also reports that Largay built a latrine near her campsite, which was located by a small brook atop a knoll, and that she kept wrappers from her dwindling food supply which included Clif Bars, tuna fish packs, and Gatorade powder.
Largay ultimately died from lack of nutrition and also environmental exposure.
Largay's family issued a statement after her remains were found. The statement reads, in part:
After all of the communication and information from everyone involved including the Medical Examiner’s Office, Navy, and the Maine Attorney General’s Office, these findings are conclusive in that no foul play was involved and that Gerry simply made a wrong turn shortly after crossing Orbeton Stream.
We wish to thank all of those who gave their time and prayers while searching for our wife, sister, mother, and grandmother. We especially would like to thank the entire Maine Warden Service for their dedication to this case. It became apparent from day one that this was personal to them and they would not rest until Gerry was found. Now that we know her death was an accident, we again ask all media for the respect of our privacy as we continue our grieving process with this new chapter of closure.