Woman Who Died An Appalachian Trail Provides Important Lesson — Keep Moving

By Ellen Creager
Detroit Free Press

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Inspiring article out of the Detroit Press on the subject of hiking. While I am not a big hiker myself, I found the author’s argument for taking one quite persuasive.

Detroit Free Press

“A trail is a happy promise to the anxious heart that you are going somewhere and are not aimlessly wandering in a circle.” -Novelist Ernest Ingersoll, quoted in “On Trails”

I’ve been thinking a lot about the news of a woman who got lost while hiking the Appalachian Trail. She died after 26 days, zipped up in her sleeping bag in her tent. Despite an extensive search by Maine authorities, the woman, Geraldine Largay, was not found for two years. Her body was finally found at her campsite just 2 miles from the trail.

How could that happen?

New details are coming out. Apparently, Largay had no compass, no GPS beacon and a terrible sense of direction. Her cell phone couldn’t get a signal. Instead of continuing to hike she stayed put. For 26 days she wrote in a journal until she died quietly of exposure and starvation.

To city folks, this story likely will reconfirm a belief that nature is scary and that it’s better to stay put in our air-conditioned homes.

But to Robert Moor, author of the fascinating new book “On Trails: An Exploration” (Simon & Schuster, $25), her story means something different: that more of us need to experience trails and hiking at a young age, including developing skills in finding our way back to the trail if we get lost.

“The wilderness shouldn’t just be an abstract concept,” says Moor.

Trails, Moor says, are ways to create order out of chaos. Trails are made by lowly fire ants and great elephants, by herds of bison, by cows and sheep, by humans, but all for this purpose, to lead others somewhere, to food, water, home, or over the mountain.

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