Thursday, October 22, 2015

Lost and Found in Maine

After two years in the Maine woods, Inchworm has been found.

In July of 2013, she vanished without a single clue, and there are many things that remain a mystery. Why was she a half mile off the trail? How did searchers not find her? Was she really found in her tent and sleeping bag, like some rumors have suggested?

It's possible we will never know what really happened. Did she follow a path she thought was the trail (haven't we all done this?), did she get hypothermia (we have all come close); did she have a medical problem once she realized she was lost? Was she trying to make her way to a different road due to weather or another problem? She was unlike traditional thru-hikers in that her husband would generally meet her every few days at a road with food or supplies. Many thru hikers (she was doing the trail in long sections) are pretty good at being on the trail, but not so great once they wander off of it.

In my decades of outdoor adventures, I've had the following experiences:

  • Stalked by a mountain lion at night
  • Charged by a coastal grizzly with cubs
  • Caught in 12 foot seas in a kayak 
  • Slid down a mountain, not on purpose (not the whole mountain)
  • Caught in a flash flood (luckily there was an escape route)
  • Run out of water in the desert
  • Almost stepped on a rattlesnake

And there's probably more. But I have never been lost. Turned around a little bit, yes. But never truly lost, to the point where panic sets in. If Inchworm really did get lost, and it's hard to believe that anything else could have happened (how else do you end up half a mile from a major trail?) then I can only imagine what thoughts went through her head. Why wasn't she able to find the trail again? Did she have a stroke or a heart attack? Will we ever know?

Here's the thing, though. Gerry was 66. She was doing it. Her death is a tragedy for sure. But she wasn't on the couch, 100 pounds overweight. She wasn't saying she was too old to do it, or too scared to go alone, or all the other reasons she could have given for not doing it. Yes, if she had stayed home or taken someone with her, she would probably still be alive. Maybe. Who really knows? There are little earthquakes all over the world every day. 

Keep doing it, you guys, Take a compass and a map, or a GPS, or a Spot Beacon. Don't get so caught up in ultralight that you don't have the equipment you need to survive. But keep doing whatever you dream.










9 comments:

  1. Hi Mary, here in Alaska many "go missing" as we say, they do for many, many reasons. Doesn't matter how old or what ethnicity. Many Alaska Natives do. Snowmachine trips, boat trips, hunting, etc. some are found right away while many aren't. That's life here in the Last Frontier and all other places. It's just something that happens.

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    1. Yes. I helped search for a plane in SE that was never found. When it's a hiker I always want to know why and learn from it.

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  2. I got lost on my first backpacking trip. I was young & inexperienced, purposely separating from the group on the principle of being stubborn. I learned a lot from that experience and thankfully have come a long way since then. I always think mistakes are okay, as long as you learn from them.
    I am so intrigued by Inchworm's tragedy, but we'll never get answers.
    Did you ever read "The Last Season?" One of my favorite books.

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    1. Yes, that book was fascinating. I saw that ranger once when I worked in the park. He blazed right by, just saying hello. Those long time backcountry rangers were known to be somewhat taciturn back in the day. They got tired of dealing with people I guess.

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  3. Glad she was out there and obviously enjoying her trip, until..... But sad for the ending for her and the family. I do hope we get some answers....that can be helpful for others.... please post if you hear some more information.

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    1. People are making a big deal that she was found on navy land where participants are allegedly trained in evasion, escape and also tortured. I doubt that there's some military cover up. Just would like to know why, if she just got lost, she died?

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  4. Eek! to all your close encounters with the scary beasts! Im a total wimp when it comes to exploring the great unknown. Thanks for visiting , hope you come back again!

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    1. It's a tradeoff, I love being out there so I brave the beasts!

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    2. This lady did the right thing, but sometimes we all make mistakes that can be fatal. I agree with Mary... live your dreams.

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