A Stranger Saves the Day

The Angeles National Forest trees we planted in 2021 & 2022 struggled due to drought, so replacement trees were planted in 2023, but we had an impossible time taking photos because the road had washed out.

I returned in April 2024 knowing the road had been repaired, but the actual Forest Service road to get to the trees was in worse shape than I expected. Of course, this was the ONE TIME in 17 years I came to see the trees in a vehicle that was not 4 wheel drive, and of course this was the time it was really needed :(  

That morning I had already traveled a bit to get there, so it was afternoon when I arrived.  There was no time to hike up the dirt road before it got dark, but I was not giving up on seeing those trees! 

I suggested to my friend/chauffer we stop in at The Rock Inn, the only restaurant/bar in the little town of Lake Hughes and see if someone could help us. I explained the situation to the bartender, Tanya, and asked for her help. Before I had even finished my sentence, she was on the phone with her adult daughter.  30 seconds later she hung up and said Toby, her son-in-law, was on his way with his Jeep.

Toby soon appeared, looking like a younger brother of ZZ Top, with an awesome mountain man beard.  After assessing Toby seemed safe enough we hopped in his Jeep, "Scarlet," and set off to find the trees.

The drive was only about 3 miles, but the road was bumpy so we went pretty slow. We had a lovely time splashing through puddles and chatting up Toby. We learned he had spent his day off that day playing disc golf, he is really into the super cool haunted house he and his wife set up every year, and he is a massage therapist.

We found the baby trees, (YAY! FINALLY!) took photos, and I explained how much this meant to me all the way back to The Rock Inn. 

Thanks to the trees, I spent a bit of my afternoon making an unexpected connection and having a fun adventure with a stranger who was kind and who loves nature just like I do.

THANK YOU, Toby. Sometimes I get a reminder of how beautiful people can be when I least expect it.


PS- if want to visit the Angeles National Forest trees, Toby would be happy to take you up the dirt road in Scarlet. Contact us for his info. 

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