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CAP Talk  |  Operations  |  Emergency Services & Operations  |  Topic: Hiker lost on trail lived for almost a month before dying. Found after 2 years.
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Author Topic: Hiker lost on trail lived for almost a month before dying. Found after 2 years.  (Read 1796 times)
Майор Хаткевич
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« on: May 27, 2016, 12:47:04 AM »

http://www.nbcchicago.com/news/national-international/Missing-Hiker-Found-Dead-in-Maine-Kept-Journal-of-Ordeal-380959051.html?_osource=SocialFlowFB_CHBrand
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Brad
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« Reply #1 on: May 27, 2016, 01:50:42 AM »

Maybe it's that dark humor that public safety gets showing through, but I'm just wondering how far off the trail she had to have wandered to the point where she got lost and died just over trying to find a spot to use the bathroom...
« Last Edit: May 27, 2016, 03:18:59 AM by Brad » Logged
Brad Lee
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SarDragon
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« Reply #2 on: May 27, 2016, 02:28:22 AM »

That area is heavily wooded, so much so that you can't see the trail from the air. The trail isn't very wide, and you almost can't see the trail for the trees when you get away from it. Depending on the time of year, you can go many days between hikers.
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Dave Bowles
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Майор Хаткевич
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« Reply #3 on: May 27, 2016, 10:22:55 AM »

One source said her tent was 3000 feet away from trail.
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SarDragon
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« Reply #4 on: May 27, 2016, 04:36:10 PM »

WOW! In much of that area, you can't see 300 feet off the trail, much less 3000. After taking a closer look in GE, based on that 3000' figure, I could see a couple of things - first, the comment that she was near (or in) the Navy training area (SERE School) made more sense, since the trail's closest approach to the school is about 2 miles, and within an 18+ square mile circle drawn around the school building area, and, second, that area has many false paths that can easily confuse someone.

Here's a lat/long for a trail location close to the school: 44° 59.336'N, 70° 23.300'W. Check out the vegetation patterns close to there, along the trail. You need to zoom in to an eye altitude of about 8000' to see the trail path line in GE, and even closer to actually see bits of the trail. Without the GE road layer turned on, you can't even see most of the trail.
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Dave Bowles
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Live2Learn
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« Reply #5 on: May 28, 2016, 01:42:27 PM »

Very sad.  There's not much on the web about her level of experience in the woods, nor her preparedness.  Did she carry a compass?  Could she read terrain?  Was she in the early stages of dementia?  Was she tired when she departed the trail?  Was the trail well defined and easy to follow (if not, she might even have crossed it without knowing).  Lots of questions come to mind. 

I used to work in the woods.  I recall one or two overcast days when (on flat, featureless terrain) it was really easy to wander in the wrong directions for a bit.  I used to work with a very experienced guy who once talked about how he confused himself for awhile.  Which end of the compass needle points north?  The RED or White end of the needle?
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LSThiker
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« Reply #6 on: May 31, 2016, 11:12:15 AM »

Very sad.  There's not much on the web about her level of experience in the woods, nor her preparedness.  Did she carry a compass?  Could she read terrain?  Was she in the early stages of dementia?  Was she tired when she departed the trail?  Was the trail well defined and easy to follow (if not, she might even have crossed it without knowing).  Lots of questions come to mind. 

I used to work in the woods.  I recall one or two overcast days when (on flat, featureless terrain) it was really easy to wander in the wrong directions for a bit.  I used to work with a very experienced guy who once talked about how he confused himself for awhile.  Which end of the compass needle points north?  The RED or White end of the needle?

Apparently she had a compass but did not really know how to use it.  As far as terrain, while the area has terrain features (she was in the southwestern region of Maine which is 113 miles of many hills), it is difficult to distinguish those terrain features due the dense growth.  Seeing more than 6ft in front of you is considered a good view.  Nevertheless, it does make me wonder if she believed she knew how to "use" a compass, but when stuff hits the fan, she did not really "know" how to use the compass.

The Maine section is considered one of the hardest parts of the trail.  While the whole trail is marked rather well, the Maine section can be a lot of climbing and it is easy to miss the white blazes.  I am not sure where exactly her remains were found (as I did not really look).   

An update:
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3614382/Family-missing-hiker-66-dead-Appalachian-Trail-hit-wardens-anxious-afraid-dark-prone-getting-lost.html

Apparently, she did not know how to use a compass, got panic attacks, and was scared of the dark.

P.S. Red is the north pointing arrow :)
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sardak
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« Reply #7 on: May 31, 2016, 02:51:17 PM »

The family has disputed comments regarding Gerry Largay's inability to use a compass and the anxiety issues, but the family is not questioning the efforts to find her: http://www.centralmaine.com/2016/05/28/largays-family-refutes-warden-findings-critical-of-hikers-skills/

The Kennebec Journal and Morning Sentinel newspaper in Maine has an archive about the search and obtained mission records through a Freedom of Information request. http://www.centralmaine.com/tag/largay/  The articles include links to, or pictures of, parts of the search reports. One page lists equipment, noting they found her SPOT beacon in her hotel room and that she did have a compass.

Here is a short video of the press conference the day the find was announced with the IC explaining the search map. http://www.centralmaine.com/2016/01/29/largay-died-in-a-sleeping-bag-inside-her-tent-report-says/video/

This is a photo of the maps taken at the press conference. In the aerial photo on the left, the lower yellow dot is the LKP, where she departed in the morning, and the upper dot is what is believed to have been her destination that day. The find location is the faint yellow between them. It is shown in the map on the right as the yellow dot near the middle. It's about 2,500 feet (along contours, not straight line) from the closest point on the trail.

Search dog tracks are in red, ground searchers black and I believe the yellow lines are air search tracks. The heaviest black line is the Appalachian Trail itself and the water at left center is Redington Pond. The trail alignment shown going northeast in Google Earth and some other maps is an old, non-current, one.



Mike
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LSThiker
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« Reply #8 on: May 31, 2016, 05:48:21 PM »

The family has disputed comments regarding Gerry Largay's inability to use a compass and the anxiety issues, but the family is not questioning the efforts to find her: http://www.centralmaine.com/2016/05/28/largays-family-refutes-warden-findings-critical-of-hikers-skills/

The Kennebec Journal and Morning Sentinel newspaper in Maine has an archive about the search and obtained mission records through a Freedom of Information request. http://www.centralmaine.com/tag/largay/  The articles include links to, or pictures of, parts of the search reports. One page lists equipment, noting they found her SPOT beacon in her hotel room and that she did have a compass.

Here is a short video of the press conference the day the find was announced with the IC explaining the search map. http://www.centralmaine.com/2016/01/29/largay-died-in-a-sleeping-bag-inside-her-tent-report-says/video/

This is a photo of the maps taken at the press conference. In the aerial photo on the left, the lower yellow dot is the LKP, where she departed in the morning, and the upper dot is what is believed to have been her destination that day. The find location is the faint yellow between them. It is shown in the map on the right as the yellow dot near the middle. It's about 2,500 feet (along contours, not straight line) from the closest point on the trail.

Search dog tracks are in red, ground searchers black and I believe the yellow lines are air search tracks. The heaviest black line is the Appalachian Trail itself and the water at left center is Redington Pond. The trail alignment shown going northeast in Google Earth and some other maps is an old, non-current, one.

Mike

Unfortunately, I hit their limit for free articles for the month and never found the packing list for her gear.  Nevertheless, I find it interesting that she was next to water and had a compass.  As any thru-hiker on the AT has at least an AT trail guide (parts for their section at least) or the maps, I am curious as to why she did not follow the streams back to the AT.  IRC, that section, those streams are pretty consistent even during the summer.

Although her family states she knew how to use a compass, I am still curious whether she thought she knew how to use a compass or if she really knew how to use a compass. 

Will be interesting to see the final report (if ever fully understood) regarding her death and the timeline of events.

Nevertheless, something that struck me regarding SAR & CAP, which has been brought up numerous times on CAPTalk (or is it C. A. P. Talk) is this line:

Quote
But the warden service over that period could do only three dog searches in the area where her remains were found because there weren’t enough physically fit volunteers for a ground search on the difficult terrain, Adam said in October
.




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Live2Learn
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« Reply #9 on: June 01, 2016, 08:10:23 PM »

...
Search dog tracks are in red, ground searchers black and I believe the yellow lines are air search tracks. The heaviest black line is the Appalachian Trail itself and the water at left center is Redington Pond. The trail alignment shown going northeast in Google Earth and some other maps is an old, non-current, one.

Mike


Nevertheless, something that struck me regarding SAR & CAP, which has been brought up numerous times on CAPTalk (or is it C. A. P. Talk) is this line:

Quote
But the warden service over that period could do only three dog searches in the area where her remains were found because there weren’t enough physically fit volunteers for a ground search on the difficult terrain, Adam said in October.


Not surprising.  I recall at least one wannabe forester hired as a student/intern who couldn't walk on FLAT ground without tripping, and was really challenged when he had to work on terrain with much slope debris (aka "slash") or/ and "brush".  Dunno, but I wouldn't be at all surprised if the days of the mighty hunter/back country trekker are long gone in most parts of the country.
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