'Weather...never stopped': Stranded hikers rescued from Pacific Crest Trail

The two hikers were close to completing the Pacific Crest trail. (Photo: courtesy of Dylan Zitawi)

TAYLOR'S LANDING, Wash. (KOMO)- Two stranded hikers who found themselves in whiteout conditions on the Pacific Crest Trail were found and rescued Monday -- thanks to the emergency beacon they carried.

Both hikers were uninjured and able to walk, said the Snohomish County Sheriff's Office.

Dylan Zitawi and his hiking partner were 156 miles from finishing the more than 2,600-mile trail. Fires in California had delayed them by four weeks.

That mean they got to Washington state late, and in time for snow.

"The weather once it hit it never stopped. It rained, and it rained, and it snowed and snowed for days," Zitawi said.

"The snow had doubled. We weren't able to walk through it."

Then, it got worse.

"This time there was no visibility. You could almost not see your hand it was a whiteout blizzard," Zitawi said.

They dug a snow cave and used their tent to hunker down. By Saturday morning, the weather was even worse.

They activated an emergency beacon that sent out an SOS. That gave rescuers a sense of their location.

"As soon as that text goes out to your family and all you friends following your beacon they have no clue what's going on," Zitawi said.

Earlier efforts to rescue the pair were thwarted by dangerous weather conditions - including snow, heavy rain and gusty winds - which forced search parties to turn back.

Search and rescue officials said activating the beacon was the right move.

A search helicopter was launched Monday about 8 a.m. after the weather broke, and rescuers were able to find the hikers. They were near Indian Pass on the Snohomish-Chelan County line.

"When we heard that chopper for real .. we realized we weren't going to have to try to walk out of an avalanche .. .probably the best feeling of my life when I realized I was going to see green grass again soon," said Zitawi, who will be heading home to Tennessee.

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