Concerned woman's phone call saves German hiker's life

GLACIER PEAK, Wash. (AP) — A phone call from a concerned woman likely saved the life of a hiker from Germany who was attempting to travel through the Cascade Mountains to the Canadian border without proper gear as snow and cold hit the region, authorities said.

Nancy Abel of Sultan met and hiked with Katharina Groene Oct. 24 near Stevens Pass and noticed she didn't have equipment for snow travel, according to the Snohomish County Sheriff's Office. An avid hiker, Abel told authorities she tried but failed to convince Groene to end her journey to the Canadian border.

Groene told Abel she had started her solo trek along the Pacific Crest Trail at the Mexican border in May and was determined to complete it, the sheriff's office said.

Abel returned home but continued to monitor weather reports. With snow and colder temperatures in the Cascades this week, Abel believed Groene was in danger and called 911, according to the sheriff's office.

The Snohomish County Helicopter Rescue Team on Tuesday followed footsteps they saw in the snow and eventually found Groene near Glacier Peak.

Rescuers found that Groene was soaking wet, her tarp shelter had blown away, she was low on food and that she tried to call for help but had no cell service, the sheriff's office said.

Groene told rescuers she also left messages on her phone apologizing to her friends and family for dying on the Pacific Crest Trial.

Rescuers took her back to Snohomish by helicopter, where the sheriff's office said she met up with Abel, who offered her a place to stay until she returns to Germany.

If Abel had not taken action, Groene most likely would have died in the mountains, the sheriff's office said on Facebook.