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Little Mt. Ord Day Hike
Mazatzal Mountains
November 25, 2014
by Bill Zimmermann
  GPS Map 
Under the fence? Nancy shows us how it’s done.

Chainsaw. I would not consider this route again without one.

Bill, Chip, Nancy and Gary left the valley and met George at the Bushnell Tanks Exit. Both vehicles headed north. We left SR87 at the first break in the white line. About a mile down the road Bill dropped off three hikers at the route start point. George and Bill returned after leaving George’s car and special treats at the gate to Tom’s trailer.

The route doesn’t look half bad from here ...
... but it gets rocky on the way up.
High, high above Sunflower and the Beeline Highway.

At 8:45 we were walking. It was cool and brisk under clear skies. Bushwhacking is just another word for off trail. And that it was. After two hundred vertical feet Gary decided to bail out. Bill left him a radio and the Jeep key with instructions where to leave it if he choose to have a friend come get him.

The route up to “E52” was the same one Bill took in May 2014 with Michael. The scrub oak was knee high to waist high.

Yay! We found a cairn!
    For the most part we could weave around it or step over it. The vegetation got thicker as we proceeded onto waypoint “E56”.

To our surprise we found a cairn at “C”. It was the only cairn we would find all day. From here we could see a road. We would have to cross the dip, gully, or ravine, whatever you would want to call it. It had to be crossed.

Where? We continued uphill past “E58”. Just below a solitaire pine we started our descent.

It was thick. Thousands of brown leafless shrub like trees. No path. No palace to weave around. It was slow. It was steep. Branches would get stuck between your legs leaving your feet dangling in the air. I had visions of tripping and getting stuck upside down. I found myself continually unwrapping branches that surrounded my waist. Where is that chainsaw? However, maybe the negative attitude was wrong. Maybe the bushes were just happy to see us and showered us in full body hugs. We finally reached the bottom of the crack.

There’s bushwhacking for you.
Now whack those bushes, Bill!
Chip nears the summit.
Chip, Nancy, George, and Bill celebrate.
Picnic on Little Mt. Ord.

Normal bushwhacking returned as we headed toward the road at “RS”. It seemed like a highway. We left the road at “RE” and continued up to our destination. Little Mount Ord “6114 “ It was a great lunch spot with splendid views.

Somewhere between lunch and “W52” George lost his GPS. Bummers. Vegetation lessened as we continued down the ridgeline. So easy was the walking that Bill overshot waypoint “W46”.

Finally, the going gets easier on our way down.

After crawling under one more fence we were in Tom’s back yard. He was home. Bill introduced the hikers to Tom before jogging to George’s car at the gate. He retuned with the cooler full of wine and subs. We learned a little more about Tom as we shared the food and drink.

Chip, George, Tom, Nancy, Bill

His grandfather bought 100 acres for 50¢/acre in 1898. Tom has lived here steady for the last 22 years.

Tom lives off the grid. [photo by Chip]
    In his younger days would hike up to through Reno Pass to fish Tonto Creek. He lives off the grid. No mail. No car.

However, he has solar collectors with enough amps to drive two refrigerators. His hydraulic pump pulls 150 gallons from the spring to his storage tank each day. His 10 cats keep the mice population down ... food source for snakes. Tom turns 60 tomorrow.

We wished him a Happy Birthday as we parted. Odds are we will not find Tom at any Black Friday sales. When we reached the Jeep, Gary was still there. Bill offered to return the $3 but Gary refused.

The gate. What a welcome sight!

As we drove back to the valley we assured Gary that not all Trailblazer hikes are like this.

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Arizona Trailblazers Hiking Club, Phoenix, Arizona
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updated November 27, 2014