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Whitlow Canyon Day Hike
Superstition Wilderness
October 13, 2018
by Tamar Gottfried
  GPS Map
  GPS Map
by Bill Zimmermann
Mark, Michelle, Li, Peter, Bill, Debbie, Tamar, Terry  [photo by Bill]

Even though we had planned a nice first Fall venture into the Superstitions, Mother Nature tried to throw us a curve ball. Saturday’s forecast was rain, rain and more rain, with a 90% chance of showers after 10 AM. Eight adventurous Trailblazers took this as a challenge and not an obstacle and all confirmed that the hike was a go, rain or shine.

Rainbow, before the storm. [photo by Tamar]

We assembled at the Peralta Trailhead before 7 AM, joining only a light sprinkling of other cars (a rarity for a weekend at this popular site) and set out on the Dutchman’s Trail. The clouds were ominous with spots of blue sky in between, but we were not scared by them. We turned off onto the Coffee Flat Trail and went up the first ascent. At this point, some raindrops began to hit us and we stopped to get out the rain gear and take a quick group photo. We were the only hikers on the trail and didn’t see anyone else until we were back at the cars. Ahh, solitude.

Papa Bear and Junior Bear don’t mind the rain. [photo by Li]
Onward! [photo by Bill]
It’s this way, folks. [photo by Bill]
Yes, this must be the way. [photo by Li]
Li has a magnificent backdrop. [photo by Li]
Bill threads his way between prickly pears. [Li]

After another mile or two, we hit Whitlow Canyon (more of a wash) and the Y intersection. We veered right off the main trail and soon approached the corral. Since we felt like we were just warming up after 4.5 miles and even though it was now raining quite a lot, we all agreed to take an alternate loop through the corral and along the Canyon to Reed’s Water, which, combined with an alternate loop back to the Dutchman’s at the end, would add 3 miles to the original plan.

The unofficial trail after the corral was mostly easy to follow and led us to a few water tanks, quickly filling with water. The vegetation was quite lush and green and riparian, especially after we turned left off what had become a small road and we went through a few more washes to find the windmills at Reed’s Water. With the rain still falling, we took a short break and went to rejoin the actual Coffee Flat Trail.

water water
In Whitlow Canyon past the corral. [photos by Tamar]
Arizona needs the rain. [photo by Tamar]
Won’t let a little rain dampen my spirits. [photo by Bill]
Shooting the perfect picture. [photo by Bill]

Unfortunately, the trail was difficult to find after it went through a tree grove, so we took a detour up and down hills before finding it again. At this point, the rain was lightening up, the trail was well marked, but the ground of the trail was uber squishy and muddy after just a few hours of precipitation. In places, water was dribbling down the trail in a little waterfall. In spite of this, we never felt unsafe.

Which rock is it? [photo by Tamar]
Water, water, everywhere. [photo by Bill]

After 8 miles, we reached a spot where it was possible to leave the Coffee Flat Trail and do a loop to Dutchman’s, which would take us off Tonto National Forest land and onto BLM/ Land Trust land for a bit. We decided to take this route, which added some distance, and required us to pass through a few gates. Bill added a little bushwhack through some washes, and we eventually ended up back on Dutchman’s a mile from the cars.

I don’t think we’ve been here before. [photo by Li]
We still have a ways to go. [photo by Li]

The last part of the hike included a brief bout of sunlight, enough to start to dry out our wet and muddy attire. We made it to the cars and dry shoes and socks, and almost immediately, it really began to pour. The drive out on the muddy road was exciting with low visibility and some sliding around and splashing through filling washes. The real rain came on the highway drive back. The transfer to other cars at Home Depot was very wet.

Tamar is a gracious hostess. [photo by Bill]

Most of us reconvened at Tamar’s house for a lunch of burgers, brews, salmon, and pies to celebrate a few milestone October birthdays. We then went our separate ways with muddy wet gear, but with satisfied stomachs and senses of adventure.

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Arizona Trailblazers Hiking Club, Phoenix, Arizona
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updated October 14, 2018