She Couldn't Sleep at Night. Her Worries Saved Hiker's Life

Nancy Abell's 911 call saves German hiker on Pacific Crest Trail
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 2, 2018 8:35 AM CDT
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Nancy Abell, second left, and Katharina Groene, second right, pose with rescue pilots.   (Snohomish County Sheriff's Office)

(Newser) – Katharina Groene was near death—wet, dehydrated, showing signs of hypothermia, and eating a ration of one Pop-Tart per day. She was down to the last 200 miles of the 2,650-mile Pacific Crest Trail earlier this week when she pulled out her phone and recorded an apology for those she feared she’d never see again, per the Washington Post. The 34-year-old German hiker was soon after saved by a woman she'd met only briefly a week before. Aiming to reach the Canadian border, Groene had refused to turn around in Washington state's Cascade Range on Oct. 24 though local backpacker Nancy Abell advised her to do so. Snow was coming. "I'd been through a storm up in the same area and we couldn't go anywhere for three days," Abell said Wednesday. "I just kept thinking of her being up there alone" without snowshoes.

Groene, who started at the Mexican border in May but was delayed by visa issues, thought she was prepared enough for the weather, per KOMO News. But back home in Sultan, Abell grew concerned amid heavy snowfall, to the point where she couldn't sleep. Abell called 911 on Monday, giving a location of where she had calculated the hiker might be found. It was "right on," says Sgt. John Adams of the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office. A helicopter search located footprints and eventually Groene, whose phone had no service. "I was crying. I was screaming for help," she said per Tribune Media. And "I knew who called [911]. But who does call for a stranger?" Abell, however, says Groene didn't feel like a stranger after the two hours they had hiked together. Adds Groene, who will stay with Abell until her trip home: "My faith in humanity is definitely restored." (The PCT is actually quite busy.)

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