It prompted outdoorsmen and trail officials to rethink conventional wisdom long held dear: that safety lies in numbers, that the wilds offer escape from senseless violence, and that when trouble does visit, it’s always near some nexus with civilization—a road, a park, the fringe of a town.
And it reverberates still, all these years later, because what befell Geoff Hood and Molly La Rue at the Thelma Marks shelter is a cautionary tale without lesson. And near as anyone can tell, they did everything right.
“As long as I’m living my ALL you will be.” She cashed in her savings to finance their trip, which they’d start in Maine, as only one in ten through-hikers do.
And so, on June 4, 1990, having climbed the day before to the AT’s northern terminus on the peak of mile-high Mount Katahdin, they set off on their long walk—and found it surprisingly arduous.
Our rendezvous came on Friday, July 20, at the Jeffers Brook shelter near Glencliff, New Hampshire, after we’d crossed an above-tree-line peak in a crashing thunderstorm.
As I exchanged handshakes with Clevis and Nalgene, I told them that I felt like we’d already met. A blue-haired troll doll dangled from her backpack.
It's no surprise, what with the millions who use the path each year, that the AT had seen violence before the early morning of September 13, 1990. Still, none drew the attention, or generated the angst, of the incident here.
’ ” Molly admitted early on, in a journal they shared.
Through the roof of our tent I see their familiar sludge The stuff that resembles butterscotch fudge. I was stinking, blistered, and covered in mosquito bites. My first reaction was: How can this Nalgene person be so obnoxiously Eleven days into my hike, I stumbled out of the woods and into Monson, Maine, where I met Greg Hammer, an Army vet in his late twenties whose Virginia home was just a short distance from mine.
My pack weighed nearly half as much as I did, and every pound hurt. Greg, trail name Animal, was easygoing and smart, and together we pushed into the windswept mountains of western Maine.
“Well, we had one of those days.” Geoff’s next entry whimpered: “Our bodies have had almost as much as they can take.” But they also wrote in the logbooks left in shelters, which, in the days before cell phones, were the most reliable means for through-hikers to connect.
Reading those entries made it obvious to all in their wake that they were enjoying themselves immensely.Those crimes shared traits with what transpired at Thelma Marks. C., and because it involved not only a crime but a mountain manhunt that lasted a week. “This might have to do with my age, but I find I get more emotional about it now,” says former Perry County, Pennsylvania, prosecutor R. “I get choked up thinking about Molly and Geoff.“These were good kids. At 26, Geoff was a friendly, contemplative Tennessean, even tempered and patient. Molly had tackled two Outward Bound courses and spent a year providing wilderness therapy to kids in the Arizona desert.