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Char Adams / People.com
November 05, 2018

This article originally appeared on People.com.

Nancy Abell, of Sultan, Washington, met 34-year-old Katharina Groene on Oct. 22 when Abell gave the German hiker a ride to Stevens Pass. Little did the women know, the chance encounter would end up saving Groene’s life.

Groene had set off in May on a solo hike of the Pacific Crest Trail and was determined to reach the Canadian border, officials with the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office wrote in a Facebook post. But Abell, an experienced hiker, knew a snowstorm was coming and tried to talk Groene out of it.

“I knew she didn’t have snowshoes and I knew she’d be up there by herself,” Abell said during a press conference. “I’d been through a storm in the same area and we couldn’t go anywhere for three days. It was terrifying.”

Nancy Abell, of Sultan, Washington, met 34-year-old Katharina Groene on Oct. 22 when Abell gave the German hiker a ride to Stevens Pass. Little did the women know, the chance encounter would end up saving Groene’s life.

Groene had set off in May on a solo hike of the Pacific Crest Trail and was determined to reach the Canadian border, officials with the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office wrote in a Facebook post. But Abell, an experienced hiker, knew a snowstorm was coming and tried to talk Groene out of it.

“I knew she didn’t have snowshoes and I knew she’d be up there by herself,” Abell said during a press conference. “I’d been through a storm in the same area and we couldn’t go anywhere for three days. It was terrifying.”

As the days passed, Abell worried about Groene, and her fears had come true: Groene had become stranded in the mountains with very little food.

“I wasn’t sure if I’d make it out at all. My food was running out,” Groene said during the press conference. Police said in their statement that Groene had tried to call for help but was unsuccessful. So, “she left messages on her phone apologizing to her friends and family for dying on the PCT.”

One phone call saved a life! German citizen Katharina started hiking the PCT at the Mexico border in May. In late...

Posted by Snohomish County Helicopter Rescue Team on Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Meanwhile, Abell had a feeling Groene may have been in danger. On Oct. 29, she contacted Snohomish County Volunteer Search and Rescue.

“[Abell] had a pretty good idea in her mind of where [Groene] would be based on weather and the amount of weight she was carrying,” Sgt. John Adams, with the search and rescue team, said during the press conference.

The sheriff’s office sent out its rescue helicopter, SNOHAWK1, and the pilots, Einar Espeland and Bill Quistorf, were barely able to fly the aircraft in the rough weather.

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