Fire Chief Explains What Went Wrong on Hike
Payson Roundup (November 5, 2019) by Alexis Bechman
New mapping software led Pine-Strawberry Fire Chief Gary Morris astray last week, and it may be responsible for other rescues off the Arizona Trail this year. Morris said he purchased a new GPS tracker a month ago and installed a SIM card with maps of the Arizona Trail.
He tested the device on the Highline Trail, which the Arizona Trail follows below the Mogollon Rim for a distance, and everything seemed to work fine. So, Morris set off on a four-day solo hike on the Arizona Trail between Sunflower and the Doll Baby Ranch area. Everything was going as planned and his wife expected him home Oct. 28. When he didn’t call as expected, she called the Gila County Sheriff’s Office, handing over Morris’ detailed hiking plan, which included his route, everywhere he planned to camp and even a picture of his boot print.
Morris said his wife was confident he would make it out all right given his experience level. Morris says shortly after noon Oct. 28, he inadvertently got off the main trail. He believes he was roughly five miles from exiting at the LF Ranch. From the ranch, it is another four miles from the end of Doll Baby Road.
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