We all have chance encounters everyday, but sometimes those random people you meet can end up affecting you forever. Especially if a person is nosy or pushy, we might not want them sticking their nose in our business. But, if it comes from a place of love, it can save your life.

Nancy Abell is a mother who loves in rural Washington state. One could probably get used to seeing the splendor of nature that’s in her backyard. But still, Nancy likes to go for sensible hikes on the trail near her home.

Even for her short hikes, she always dresses for the weather and carries a pack filled with supplies.

It was on one of these hikes that Nancy met a young woman taking a much longer journey. Nancy met Katharina Groene, also hiking the Pacific Crest Trail. Only, unlike Nancy, she started her journey down at the Mexican border.

Katharina lives in Germany, and she speaks English well but has a telltale German accent. She started her trek across America because she was in a serious funk. “I lost faith in humanity,” she said later.

The Pacific Crest Trail is more than 2,600 miles long, and Katharina had already walked 2,500 miles of it. She had just 150 more miles to go.

The idea for the Pacific Crest Trail dates back to the 1930s, but the effort wasn’t officially recognized by the federal government until 1968. Plenty of hikers do what’s known as “thru hiking,” meaning they travel the length of the whole thing.

Nancy, however, grew concerned. Sure, Katharina only had 150 miles to go to complete her journey. Yet, that trip would take her up into the mountains near the Canadian border, and she did not have appropriate cold-weather gear.

“In fact I told her, ‘If you were my daughter I wouldn’t let you do this,'” Nancy said. Katharina dismissed her concerns and went on her way. But Nancy couldn’t let it go.

For the next seven days, Nancy couldn’t get the hiker out of her mind. She checked up on the weather reports, and when she saw that there was to be a winter storm she sprung into action.

She called 911 to report her unlikely emergency. Technically, Katharina wasn’t missing, but Nancy effectively convinced the first responders that this hiker was out of her depth. She convinced them, and they took off.

Nancy told them where they should look, and the Sheriff’s department sent up a helicopter. It didn’t take them long to spot Katharina, in just as much trouble as Nancy thought.

The helicopter crew told CBS News that Nancy saved Katharina’s life without question. “I’ll think of her as a hero for the rest of my life,” Deputy J. Adams said.

Katharina agrees, but she knows that Nancy saved her in another way. That lack of faith she had in her fellow humans was proven to be unfounded. Nancy invited her to stay with her until it’s time for her to return home to Germany

She said she got her faith back “in a really big way,” adding for anyone else who might need such uplift, to “come to America.”

Watch the full story and see Nancy and Katharina together.



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