The Pacific Crest Trail is one of the most beautiful but demanding hikes in the world—2,650 miles from Mexico to Canada. It runs through California, Oregon, and Washington, winding through desert wastelands, along breathtaking ridges, and beside glaciated expanses.

In 2018, Katharina Groene traveled from Germany to experience the PCT for herself. She made it northbound over two thousand miles, all the way to Washington State. For a couple of hours on October 22, she fell in with Nancy Abell of Seattle. As they parted, Nancy, a lifelong local hiker, worried about Katharina. The German didn’t have snowshoes and wasn’t prepared for the next leg of the trip, which negotiated Glacier Peak. Nancy tried to dissuade Katharina from continuing, but to no avail. Katharina was five months into her trip. She wasn’t about to quit.

Katharina soon regretted her decision. When conditions turned deadly, she realized she didn’t have everything she needed for the elements. Her clothing was soaked, and her shoes were no match for the snow and ice. She became dehydrated and hungry, with only a Pop-Tart left in her pack. One of her two tarps blew away, and she lost two pairs of gloves. Frostbite set in. She had no phone service.

Soon, Katharina came to believe she would perish in the wilds of the North Cascades. She even started composing goodbye messages to her loved ones.

Then she heard a sound through the biting wind: blades chopping the air. A rescue helicopter appeared—a HAWK1 from Snohomish, flying low and sweeping just under the heavy clouds. The pilots had their heads out, following Katharina’s tracks in the snow until they finally spotted her in her red jacket near a stand of old timber.

How did the rescue team know to look for her? How did they find her?

The credit goes to Nancy Abell, who couldn’t stop thinking about her new friend. Seeing the storm blowing in, she instinctively knew Katharina was in trouble. Nancy notified the authorities, and the search was on. Katharina was saved.1

Like a hiker in the wild, we sometimes find ourselves stranded and isolated, caught in an unexpected storm, even endangered by life’s circumstances. It’s dangerous to be ill-equipped for the journey. When we haven’t packed the right gear, we’re underprepared, overexposed, and at risk of the elements.

That is never God’s plan for us. Like a divine Outfitter, He wants to give us everything we need for the journey. He knows how to equip us to be people of character, able to face the ruggedness of the world with dignity and strength. He furnishes all we need for every condition. But we’ve got to turn from our meager resources and embrace the abundant ones He provides.

David Jeremiah, Everything You Need: 8 Essential Steps to a Life of Confidence in the Promises of God (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2019).

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