A Mascot In Memory
“I Volunteer as Tribute!”….
Not sure if anyone else will be carrying a trail mascot or not, but I have decided on carrying one. Originally, I was going to bring my Katniss Barbie Doll as everyone at my work called me “Katniss” when I first started there because I was Katniss for Halloween and no one knew my name. Lol, any who, but I have decided that my mascot will be in memory of Gerry “Inchworm” Largay.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with her story, Gerry Largay was a 66 year old, retired nurse, loving mother and wife. She had decided to thru hike the Appalachian Trail, after devoting her life to serving and helping other, and start her hike from Harpers Ferry, WV on April 23, 2013 to Mount Katahdin with her husband, George Largay, assisting her. This was something she wanted to do for herself and had been a lifelong dream of hers, which makes me tear up a bit when thinking about it. While hiking she earned the trail name “Inchworm” because of her very slow and steady pace. She was hiking her own hike woot woot!
This is where the story thickens unfortunately. You may want to grab the tissues here…. On July 22, 2013 Inchworm was reported to be seen at the Poplar Ridge shelter that is north of the Saddleback Mountains in Maine where she sent a text to her husband confirming their meeting for the next day, July 23nd, at AT’s route 27 intersection just outside of Stratton, Maine for resupply. She never showed up to that road crossing… After 10 days of relentless searching in the “most remote and unrelenting stretch on the AT”, she was not found. Lt. Kevin Adam of the Maine Warden Service, who was in charge of the operations for the search, stated that usually when a person is lost in this area, they will find them within the first 24-48 hours, which 99% of the people who are lost are found. Anyone still missing after that time frame is usually, and regrettably, a drowning victim. Back in May 2014 the ALDHA (Appalachian Long Distance Hikers Association) searched again for her in this area with perfect searching conditions as the ferns had not grown, so they had “a great sight line, little amount of black flies, and perfect weather, but she was still not located”.
I followed this story every day and still check every once in a while to see if she has been found. I truly hope that one day she is for her family’s sake, and maybe, by sheer luck, be alive. Her family held a memorial for her later that year in October, but they stated that they have not given up hope. I really felt connected to this story and have decided that I will being carrying on my pack “Inch”, the TY Tiny Beanie Baby, as a symbolic way of her finishing the trail and as a reminder to me to go for my own dreams when the going gets rough. Please share your story if you already have a trail mascot in the comments below!
If you do have any information regarding seeing Gerry Largay please contact the Maine Warden Service Public Safety Dispatch Center in Augusta at (207)624-7076 or toll free at (800)452-4664
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My husband and I are bringing a trail mascot with us. It’s a toy I got with a kids meal from Sonic in 2007. Its about the size of your mini beanie baby, but it’s a tater tot with a world map print on it (lovingly called ‘the tot’). It’s been in my husband’s car traveling all over the place since I ate the meal it came with.
What a tragic story, and such a nice tribute for your hike. Thanks for sharing!