Pine-Strawberry chief found safe on AZT

Payson Round-Up (November 1, 2019)


The day started with fears Pine-Strawberry Fire Chief Gary Morris was either injured or dead after going missing on the Arizona Trail and ended with cheers and relief after Morris sent an unexpected text message Wednesday.

No one had heard from Morris since Monday afternoon when he sent his wife a text message saying he was on schedule and should make it home that evening after completing the roughly Sunflower to Doll Baby Ranch section of the cross-state trail. Then he didn’t arrive and by Tuesday morning, his wife had called the Gila County Sheriff’s Office.

By all accounts, Morris, 73, had done everything right.

He brought plenty of water and food, had trained, told someone where he was going, checked in regularly and even left a photograph of his boot print — just in case something happened.

But a new GPS program reportedly led Morris astray.

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