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NANCY meets KATHARINA
On the PACIFIC CREST TRAIL
ABELL           GROENE
CITY GIRL
This is "CITY GIRL", a hiker from Munich Germany.
She says her faith in humanity was restored
after a Washington woman acted
on her instincts to help save her from
dangerous conditions on  the Pacific Crest Trail.

While stranded on the trail below Mica Lake, after
a snow storm, she ate snow and sang songs
to herself, to make sure she could remember
the words, as proof she wasn't losing her mind
from dehydration, hunger and cold.

She screamed names of people she knew.
One name was Nancy Abell, a hiker she'd met
a week earlier on the edge of Lake Susan Jane, South of Stevens Pass.

Abell, a Sultan local, had paused at the lake on Oct. 22, to explain to a group of Arizona hikers,
why the fire they had built two feet from the shore, was illegal at high altitude in the Cascades.
In the middle of her lecture, Nancy saw Groene bounding along the lake,
wearing a pink jacket and a 40-pound backpack.


CITY GIRL may have been the last northbound thru-hiker on the Pacific Crest Trail.
Abell offered her a ride to a trail angel's home in Baring.
She tried to warn Groene not to finish, not this time of year in Washington,
with bad weather moving in. Nancy couldn't convince her.

CLICK LAKE TO SEE WHERE IT IS LOCATED.
From the lake, Abell gave Katharina a ride to Stevens Pass.
Little did the women know, the chance encounter would end up saving Groene's life.

CITY GIRL hitchhiked  all the way to Leavenworth.
As the forecast worsened, on Oct. 24, she set out again.

Abell saw the forecast called for 2 to 3 feet of snow in the mountains.
She came across a trip report for Lake Valhalla, north of Stevens Pass,
on the Washington Trails Association website.

On the forum, Abell and others tried to triangulate where Groene would be,
with a daily 15-mile pace stalled by bad weather.

"If she didn't get started until Wednesday," Abell wrote on Monday morning,
"she might have only got as far as Mica Lake on Saturday, when the storm hit,
one of the more inhospitable places on the PCT to be during a blizzard."

Abell once camped at Mica Lake in a snowstorm. She'd hunkered down for three days.


Abell alerted search and rescue Monday morning. THE 29TH;
If not for the chance meeting, a Snohomish County sheriff's helicopter team
would not have known to go looking for the missing hiker.

They would not have seen her footprints in the fresh powder around 2 p.m.,
and would not have spotted Groene wearing a green tarp and a pink jacket,
beaten up by a blizzard, but alive.

Needless to say, Nancy is sleeping much better now.
She invited Katharina to stay with her for a few days before her flight back to Germany.
As for Katharina, she said Nancy rescued her in more ways than one.

Words by Everett Herald Reporter CALEB HUTTON