Holly Spaman wasn’t planning on taking part in a rescue mission last Sunday when she and her partner went for a hike on Broken Top Trail. Recently arrived in Bend from Yakima, Washington, Spaman was out to enjoy the natural beauty surrounding her new hometown.

Heading up towards No Name Lake, Spaman saw a group on the trail coming the other way. They stopped to chat.

“We passed a girl who was probably around 8 years old, and she was with what I assume are her parents,” said Spaman. “She mentioned that she lost her animal on the trail, and I said I would keep an eye out for it.”

But in the vast backcountry, finding a tiny speck of a toy was unlikely.

“I so much wish I had asked for a cell number or email or something, but I didn’t seriously think we would find it,” Spaman said. “But a mile or two into the hike there the little guy was on the side of the trail. We carried him with us and brought him home with us the next day.”

Spaman posted a picture on her Facebook page of the diminutive beige-and-brown lion sitting on a rock along the trail amid the high-altitude snow and jagged boulders.

“Yesterday late afternoon I met a sweet child on Broken Top Trail to No Name Lake who asked me to keep an eye out for her stuffed animal,” Spaman wrote. “Guess what? I found it! If anyone knows this kiddo, please help us connect.”

Spaman, a registered nurse, kept good care of the orphaned beast as friends — and then complete strangers — forwarded news of the lost little lion. The Bulletin joined the search.

“I hope I can get the mighty lion back to his mama,” Spaman told The Bulletin on Friday evening.

A few hours later, the flurry of messages, social media posts and phone calls paid off.

Spaman was contacted late Friday by Bend resident Erin Allen, who was thrilled to find out that “Kitty,” her 7-year-old daughter Audrianna’s beloved go-everywhere stuffed toy lion, had been found and brought off the snowy cold mountain.

“Holly delivered her to us today,” Allen said Saturday. “My daughter is so happy. I actually shed a few tears because of the kindness of Holly.”

Tonight, the lost little lion of Broken Top Trail sleeps safely at home.

—Reporter: 541-640-2750, gwarner@bendbulletin.com