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Whitlow & Tule Canyons Loop, AZ
mini location map2019-01-05
25 by photographer avatarCannondaleKid
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Whitlow & Tule Canyons Loop, AZ 
Whitlow & Tule Canyons Loop, AZ
Hiking avatar Jan 05 2019
Hiking8.50 Miles 1,421 AEG
Hiking8.50 Miles   4 Hrs   52 Mns   1.81 mph
1,421 ft AEG      10 Mns Break19 LBS Pack
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It's a 'holiday' Saturday during snow-bird season... how about an 8-10 mile hike within a 30-mile drive, possibly a loop yet avoiding the crowds?
After a quick look back a few years on my 'Activity' page for early-winter hikes this one fit the bill perfectly. Just over 2 years since we last hiked this loop, so it will be fun to compare conditions.

The 1.8-mile drive from Queen Valley Road to the trailhead was better than expected although still very rough... only three mud-holes to drive through.

With a forecast low of 40 overnight for Queen Valley we waited til late morning, only to find it was already 60 at the trailhead. I guess we could have started earlier since Tracey was shedding layers before leaving the car. Although breezy off-and-on, it was a warm breeze. As before, we chose the counter-clockwise route hiking north in Whitlow Canyon.

Almost exactly one mile in I was about to tell Tracey about noticing some new-to-me petroglyphs while hiking up Lone Mountain the day before, when lo-and-behold I looked up at some boulders and spotted a petroglyph which at first glance brought to mind Led Zep's Stairway To Heaven. And the more we looked the more we found.
Just crazy! I'd hiked this same route twice before yet never noticed them. If I hadn't thought about yesterday's 'bullet-glyphs' I likely would have missed them again.
BTW, the petros on Lone Mountain were actually 'petroglyphs-by-bullet'... bullets fired onto boulders with desert varnish.

The hike in Whitlow Canyon was nice enough with puddles of water in the slick rock here-and-there and not quite as thick brush as I recalled... but then again this trip I tried to avoid where I remembered the worst of it was. We had a fun time getting through the only gate... it was so tight it took almost everything we had working together to open it, and it took the rest of what we had to and a number of attempts to close it. After we got it closed, Tracey said we should have just taken our packs off and crawled under the fence.
Too late now. :doh:

When it was time to head west up to the ridge we looked for cow paths but didn't find anything well worn so just followed whatever path looked easiest. Unfortunately the slope was wide enough near the bottom so not enough cows took the same path, and thus no well-beaten trail. It was a little challenge to find the best spots to cross a half-dozen deep drainages until about 3/4 the way up when the trail became well-defined.

While the descent west from the ridge had a defined trail all the way, with so many loose rocks it was more of a challenge than the ascent. On this side we began encountering cows almost everywhere we went, which was to be expected.

Once we hit the last unnamed canyon before Tule we encountered more puddles, ponds and almost lakes in the bare rock. While we would hike on bare rock at times, most of the time it was rock-and-boulder-hopping, so keen awareness was required for almost every one of the more than 25,000 steps we would take... thankfully the few miscues I had didn't lead to a fall. :pray:

While we saw plenty of fresh evidence of deer, coyote and javelina, we would not encounter any. Still, a great day to be out hiking!
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