My Tent & Zippy

I decided to put up my new tent in our family room. When I got finished my dog Zip had to check it out, he even had to stick his head in my sleeping bag.  One of the things I am going to miss is not being able to take Zip with me on my trail ride. My dog Zippy is extremely attached to me and he even whines when I leave for work. He knows when I get up in the morning and start getting dressed that I will be gone for the day. He starts pouting before I even leave. Zippy loves the weekends or my days off. I don’t get up and start getting dressed right away so he is happy from the very beginning of the day…

Back to me setting up my new tent, of course he had to help. I was concerned about him getting in the tent because his claws are a little long right now, but I figured it would let me know how the floor held up.  It seemed to do just fine. I put my sleeping pad and sleeping bag in the tent to check out the size. I will have plenty of room for my saddle and all the supplies I need to put in there for the night.

I also weighed the tent, pad and bag. All together they weighed 9.8 lbs.  I am trying to weigh everything as you know so I don’t go over the 20% weight limit that I want Hondo to carry comfortably.

I have three different lists that I’m going by for taking everything I need and to not forget anything. I have a list for me, for Hondo and for extra tack, equipment and tools.  I know once I get out in the wilderness, I will have forgotten something (that’s just being me!).

My husband bought me a solar phone charger as part of my equipment. It has a radio, clock, flashlight and it can also be powered by hand cranking it. He is still uptight if I take this trip alone. Joe keeps suggesting people who might be able to go with me. In some sort a way, I would like another person to go with me. I also have that part of me that wants to do this alone. I feel I will have a bigger amount of accomplishment if I am able to do it alone.  I have quite a few mixed thoughts about what I should do and what I deep down want to do….

Well, until next time…. TC


Stormy Night

Last night it stormed really bad. During the storm, I stayed awake and listened to the strong winds against my home and watched lightning crashing in the sky.  We have not had such a strong storm in a long while. It has been cold and rainy for the last couple of weeks, but last night it really stormed. I kept thinking about Hondo weathering the storm. Hondo has a shelter, but not one that has any closed sides. He has a stall with a shelter that opens up to an arena, I keep his stall gate open so Hondo is free to come and go into his pen and arena at will. He does have a couple of trees around his arena that helps provide some shelter. I can see his stall from my back door, but I can’t see beyond to the arena. Hondo weathered the storm somewhere in the arena, probably next to one of the trees that he uses for protection from the wind.

This morning when I checked on Hondo, he and his blanket was covered in mud. After Hondo ate his breakfast, I went to go clean him off and the wind started picking up again.  For some reason Hondo was not in a happy mood and he started spooking at things that were blowing in the wind. He even jumped when the wind shut his tack shed door and his carrot bag decided to roll towards him. This was one of the first times in years that I have seen Hondo spook at anything. My guess is that he was so tired from being up most of the night due to the storm. If that happens on the trail due to lack of sleep, I’m going to have to figure out how to make sure my horse gets plenty of rest away from home.

One of my next steps after the rain stops and the ground starts drying up, I’m going to take a ride on one of the trails that Hondo is familiar with and camp out for the night. This will tell me how he will do with me and him camping out on a trail. We have ridden together for years and I would have never thought that Hondo would be jumpy like he was today.

We have a lot of work to do prior to us officially starting on the AZT, but it’s exciting!!!

I put some pictures below to let you see how muddy he was before today’s grooming  We will talk later……


I wanted to drive up to Redington Road, but it has been rainy during the 2 days that I had planned on going. The last 6-7 miles is on a dirt road so I am waiting for it to dry up before I drive there.

I called the forest ranger about Gordon Hirabayashi campground, also known as Prison Road Campground. The campground has horse amenities and I wanted to know if I needed to reserve a spot to spend the night. He stated it was a first come first serve basis. Since I will be traveling on the AZT, I can setup a camp independently from the campground.

My husband and I have discussed the trip and I am planning on doing Passage 10 in one day (18 miles) and camping at the above campground.  He will drop me off early early at Redington Road and meet me that night or the next morning at Gordon Hirabayashi Campground.  I will spend the night at the campground hopefully. If I don’t make it to the campground, I will camp along the trail and meet my husband the next morning.  I will let you know how the plan formulates during my preparations.

I bought me a sleeping bag today. It is a mummy bag rated to 20 F.  It is also a women’s size. I am only 5’4″ and I thought about a youth bag until I saw this one. I am trying to be so picky about all my equipment due to my weight restrictions. My mummy bag weighs 3.8 lbs.  I also bought a small camp stove and some fuel. It is really small and only weighs 11 oz. the fuel is in cans and two of them weighs less than a pound also.

I compared quite of few backpacks and I think I will need to have a 50L for my back and 2 40L that I will attached to the sides of the back of my saddle. Right behind my saddle, I want to put my tent, pad and sleeping bag. In the next several weeks I will be working on the configuration and weight distribution.

Well that is it for today…. later…..

TC Ornelas…..


This pass week on the local news, it was reported that there was a wildfire in Redington pass. They dispatched four engines and it burned approximately 15-25 acres. I couldn’t find anymore information if it affected the trail in that area or not. I’m going to drive up to the trailhead this next week to see if I can spot anything. I also have been planning a trip to see how close I can get my horse trailer to the trailhead.

I will be driving my Dodge Charger and I know that after I leave the city, the road turns to a dirt road at mile marker 3.  From that point, I need to travel on the road to around mile marker 12.  At the top of a small ridge, it states that passenger vehicles should park on the right, as the remainder of the route is very bumpy and rocky.  The AZT should cross Redington road here and I should see signs on both sides of the road. I will definitely be taking it easy in my Charger, my “lil blue” as I call her is still my baby and I will not take her on a road that might tear her up….

The directions also talk about going further up the road with a high clearance 4-wheel drive to descend the ridge to the south. Approximately two miles down this road I should find another metal AZT sign near some corrals and fences. This area is called “Italian Trap” and is the last stretch of Passage 9.

My goal is to see how far I can go hauling my horse trailer and then to see if I can hike to Italian Trap. I also will be looking for the damage from the Wildfire.

If my husband doesn’t feel like going for a hike, I may ask my mom to go.  My biggest obstacle is I am still healing from my surgery and I have been having a severe case of fatigue. The doctor expected this due to the type of surgery that I had. I had major surgery on my stomach and he said one of the hardest things I will be coping with is fatigue. Some days I could  just sleep all day and I will really need to push myself to take this small day trip.

Well this is all for now…. can’t wait to tell you about the day trip!

Till later….

TC Ornelas –



Today my family lost one of own special animals. Our cat Rocky. I know this blog is about me and my horse Hondo, but today I would like to share Rocky’s story…

In 2002, me, my husband and youngest daughter Lindsey lived in Guam. I worked as an Environmental Engineer back then for the same company I am still with. The island was just hit with one of the worst storms in its history, Super Typhoon Pongsongwa. Guam looked like a war zone after the storm and we couldn’t even drive anywhere due to the roads being blocked. We lived on the 9nth floor in a 3- bedroom apartment and due to the storm, our carpets had got drenched. During the storm, water had come bubbling into our front entrance door and one of the front bedrooms window had busted. I was down in the lobby talking with the property manager about the damage when across the lobby came running a 4-month old kitten that was totally drenched. The kitten got a running leap and jumped on the counter I was standing next too. He then ran towards me and practically jumped in my arms. Apparently the Property Manager was scared of cats and was screaming to get it away from her. Being an animal lover I instinctively started shielding the kitten from the property manager. How can anyone be scared of a little kitten?

It appeared the kitten thought I was his savior as he was burying his head in my chest and started purring.  I knew it was one of the stray kittens that lived in our underground parking garage as I knew who the big tom cat was his sire. I had actually been leaving scraps in the garage since the day I had arrived on the island. Yes, I have a big heart and I am a softie!, but don’t let that get out because I am that tough as nails girl that I present to the world also….

We were not supposed to have pets where we lived and I had found extremely good homes for the ones we had prior to us moving to Guam. Holding this wet, stinky and mal-nourished kitten in my arms made me realize what we had been missing all those months since we moved there. I looked at the near hysterical women afraid of a 2 lb kitten and trying to shoo me away, I couldn’t help myself as I moved closer to her laughing under my breath. I told her I was going to take the kitten away, but it was going to be to my apartment. The property manager cried “I don’t care, just get away”. I assumed that pretty much gave me permission so I went to the stack of elevators and promptly went to introduce the ragged kitten to our home that currently had no ac, water or power except for the generator which was only on a few hours a day.

Once I got home, my husband Joe said we couldn’t keep him due to the no pet policy. I told him what happened in the lobby and of course, he opened his heart to the kitten that had chosen us as his family. Also, it seemed the kitten automatically went to Joe and he has been Joe’s cat ever since. Joe name him Rocky due to he had one black eye.

One year later after another storm, we ended up with another kitten that the momma had abandoned. This kitten was so young that we had to bottle feed it. Rocky was extremely put out and told us very loudly that he was not happy about this new addition to the family. Fortunately my daughter took over the care of Miss Kitten a.k.a Miss Kitty. She stayed in my daughters room for almost a month before Rocky decided not to want to kill her.

Several years later, I got transferred by my company back to the states. We were not going to leave Rocky or Miss Kitty so they traveled halfway around the world. My daughter and husband had to stay in Guam for awhile to move us while I had to start my new job. My mom picked Rocky and Miss Kitty up at DFW airport and drove them  3 hours to our new home in Arkansas. Apparently our cats and her dog did not make for a pleasant drive.

As you know, I live in Arizona and so Rocky and Miss Kitty had to make another move. Rocky was always happy as long as Joe was near so he settled down pretty quick. We have been fortunate enough to have had Rocky in our lives for 15 years. We took him to the vet today, we knew what she would say, but just needed the confirmation. Rocky was in liver failure, the last week he had been turning yellow and we knew he was suffering. He had quit eating or drinking four days ago.

We will always have the cat who chose us for his family in our hearts forever…

R.I.P.  Rocky O.

JJ and Hondo

Today my son JJ took Hondo to work with him. He is using Hondo to push at the dude ranch he works at. Of course me being very protective of my horse, got up to help him load and followed him to work. It’s not that I don’t trust JJ to pull a horse trailer, he  has been pulling a bigger trailer than mine where he works, I just wanted to make sure Hondo got there safe.

JJ is taking him on some different trails that Hondo hasn’t been on. All the trails in Saguaro National Park west, Hondo and I have been on numerous times and Hondo knows them all.  Due to Hondo being an ex border patrol horse, he has thousands of miles under the saddle and nothing much really fazes him. I will never say a horse is dead broke because there is always some horse eating bush, mailbox, snake or bear out there that will spook a horse. But, Hondo is as close as they come to being a dead broke horse that I have ever owned.

One of the best things about Hondo is he has absolutely no problems going out alone and even if we come across other horses, Hondo separates with no problems. I actually think he likes it best when we ride alone cause when we have ridden with other horses, he actually gets grumpy with them.

Today is a good training day for Hondo. I have not gotten my clearance to ride yet, so thankfully my son is stepping up to help me!

Thats all for today…… later….

Passage 10 -Redington Pass

I have been going through the books I received in the mail a few days ago. I think Passage 10 on The Arizona Trail (AZT) might be the first leg I try out while I am planning my ride-thru. Passage 10 is 15.7 miles long and the difficulty rating is moderate. It has a total elevation gain of 2577 feet.  This passage is a link between Saguaro National Park East and the Pusch Ridge Wilderness.

I would like to think I can do the 15.7 miles in 1 day, camp, and the return back to the beginning.  That is what I’m going to plan for. I know I can do 8 miles in about 4 hours because I’ve have completed that numerous times.

My oldest 17-year old son JJ is showing interest going on a weekend trip with me in the wilderness. He is an excellent horseback rider. He is currently working at a ranch as a trail guide for taking vacationers on the trails with horses. I hope he keeps up his interest during all the planning stages. It would be wonderful to be on trail with him and not alone.

The best time of year to go through this passage is September through June. I would like to go at the end of March. This is what I am going to put my full attention on to start with. I am picking the date of March 24, 2017 or depending on weather conditions March 31, 2017.

I have lost a lot of weight and my saddle is a 17 inch seat. It has become uncomfortable because of this. The first thing on my list is to find a better fitting saddle for me and Hondo. I will need this before I start working Hondo really hard (more for my sake, not his!). Hope fully this will happen in the next week or two….

More later…….. TC