A hiker’s multi-month journey almost ended in tragedy. But thankfully, the “gut feeling” of another woman she had met on the trail ended up saving the day.
Q13 News reports that German hiker Katharina Groene had been trekking the 2,600-mile-long Pacific Crest Trail for months, beginning in May in Southern California. In late October, she became lost and in need of rescue in Snohomish County, Washington. Thankfully, Snohomish County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue team was able to come to her aid. But in a press conference after her rescue, Katharina made sure to also thank a fellow hiker.
On October 24, several days before her ordeal, Katharina had come across an older and more experienced hiker, Nancy Abel. The two chatted for a few hours, and Nancy (who said she has a daughter of the same age with “a similar spirit of adventure”) tried to dissuade Katharina from continuing her trek north because of bad weather and lack of supplies.
“I knew she didn’t have snow shoes. And I knew she’d be up there by herself. And I’d been through a storm up in the same area and we couldn’t go anywhere for three days. It was terrifying,” Nancy explained.
Katharina decided to continue on the trail anyway. Unfortunately, Nancy’s warnings were wise: The younger hiker hit bad weather and became unable to continue, quickly running out of food and water. Losing hope, Katharina even called her family in Germany via WhatsApp to tell them that she was going to die and to apologize “for dying on the PCT, for risking too much, for being too stupid to inform people how many days I’m going to take.”
But Nancy couldn’t get Katharina out of her mind. Her gut feeling about the bad weather and the threat to the younger woman’s safety kept nagging at her. She started a forum on a hikers community site asking if people had seen Katharina, and on October 29 she contacted Search and Rescue to report her worries. She even managed to direct the team to where she thought Katharina would be, based on the weather and the weight she was carrying when she last saw her.
Miraculously, the team was able to find Katharina in the nick of time, and she’s eternally grateful to Nancy for following her intuition.
“I knew who called. But who does call for a stranger? Like no people call for strangers,” Katharina said.
The two women intend to remain lifelong friends, and Katharina is even staying with Nancy until her return to Germany.
“My faith in humanity is definitely restored, so box checked,” she said.
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