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Deadman Canyon: North Fork, NM

no permit
101 4 0
Guide 4 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List NM > Southeast
5 of 5 by 1
Canyons are inherently risky. Flash floods occur without notice on sunny days. Technical skills & surrounding topography knowledge required yet does not eliminate risk.
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Difficulty 4 of 5
Route Finding 3 of 5
Distance Round Trip 5 miles
Trailhead Elevation 4,764 feet
Elevation Gain 1,800 feet
Accumulated Gain 1,900 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 8 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 14.5
Interest Off Trail Hiking, Seasonal Waterfall & Seasonal Creek
Backpack Possible - Not Popular
varies or not certain dogs are allowed
editedit > ops > dogs to adjust
Post the 1st photoset!
Author imike
author avatar Guides 253
Routes 0
Photos 6,930
Trips 2,467 map ( 21,513 miles )
Age 69 Male Gender
Location Cloudcroft, NM
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Apr, Mar, Oct, Nov → Early
Seasons   Early Autumn to Late Spring
Sun  5:51am - 6:02pm
0 Alternative
It Ain't Worth It!!
by imike

As I hiked in the lower sections of this canyon, I was pleased with the variety and ease of the course, realizing that it would make a great introductory route for those wanting to get a taste of canyoneering. It has all the features, just in small doses.

The route starts off along T104 (Alamo Canyon trail) for the first half mile, then instead of turning up canyon when the trail hits the wash, or instead of diverting up T107 (Roundup Ground trail) you simply move to your right and enter the wash coming in from the south side, heading east up into this nice canyon cut. After about a mile of very pleasant canyon walking the drainage splits... and you take the left (north) fork. The hike gets ever nicer as you work up and over bedrock falls... at least for the next half mile. At that point, the introductory canyon hike is over. The 15' overhanging waterfall can be easily worked around on the right side, but from here on it is not for beginners.

There will be a number of additional falls in the 20 to 35 foot range, some climbable... all easily worked around.. and fun.

Finally, the drainage climbs and splits... and the smart move would be to move out to the left and cross over to the Roundup Grounds, the large plateau meadow to the north and east. Connect up with the Roundup Trial to create an interesting loop. Or... continue on up to cap out this north fork drainage in the cliffs above you. It gets very steep... and the route is broken and obscured by intermittent cliffs that have to be either climbed or worked around. With enough effort, you will top out the drainage... and then you have the not fun task of downclimbing this same upper slope. Might have made sense to stop at one of the lower waterfalls and simply enjoy a shorter in/out hike.

If you are a real glutton for punishment, continue on up to the top of Long Ridge and hike out to the very prominent Steamboat formation. That is not a suggestion, but it is a possibility.

This is a very off trail hike if you are including this upper portion of the drainage... grades over 60%, lots of loose rock, and cliffs to scale. Budget plenty of time and take lots of water.

Don't forget your cell phone... you may need it.

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2010-10-01 imike
    WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.

    Most recent Triplog Reviews
    Deadman Canyon: North Fork
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Just 5 other hikers for this exceptional loop...Rap Wrap! Up Deadman, diverting into Rap Cut for a few nice climbs... then, up Rap Steppes for great rock. Topping out, walk the ridge over and into Deadman North. This exceptional cut offers an hour of great bedrock. Too soon, back into the main Deadman canyon for the easy exit. Lots of big rocks still falling from the dirt sides.. interesting. Easy pace... great loop!
    Deadman Canyon: North Fork
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Ross and Mary out for this early hit... did the Rap Wrap! Likely this Spur cut up out of Deadman is our best, including both Rap and Rap Steppes. I took the time to move rocks into the bottom pool, setting up a possible step across for the bottom climb. Unfortunately, on this day it splashed water all over the lower face, forcing alternate climbs, including some minor ledging. Mary not a happy camper!

    Still, the route is just too nice to not have fun on. We topped out, traversed along the ridge top (site of future trail?) and dropped into the North Fork of Deadman... down and out. Fives hours of cooler temps with the early start and cloud cover. Could of used a touch more breeze, but...
    Deadman Canyon: North Fork
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Ross, Mary, Luster, Clinton, Gene and Larry showed for this Intermediate level hit. Gene thought this was the Beginners Deadman hike (next week!) but he did great. closed the hike out just after sunset with brisk pace on the exit. We hiked up Deadman then took the Spur over to the Rap Cut... then up the Rap Steppes to the Roundup Grounds Trail for the easier exit. Pack had a nice 50# weight augment... good outing.
    Deadman Canyon: North Fork
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    First of the Fall Series: Canyon Lite... and we had 25 hikers show up!!

    Route looped four different cuts, variety of interesting Class I and II... got lucky with the weather. While storms raged around us we had light drizzle to cool us off and some sun breaking through.

    This First Saturday series is to be on the easier side: 5-7 miles, 1000-1500'... four to six hours. I doubt if we'll see that many hikers show again. I think some of the hikers were expecting something a bit easier than our rough, off trail routes.

    Link to photos

    Great day out!
    Deadman Canyon: North Fork
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    after two days of laying around (????) I was not at all sure I would make it out today... but, I got the privilege of hauling the 60# gear bag up to the top of the Spur Canyon. The other hikers enjoyed hiking the canyon proper, including the Rap Cut, where we were setting up for Rappelling practice. I did not feel well, but It was likely better to be out and about than not...?

    It was a fun set of hours... we topped it off by resetting for a nice bit of climbing, top belay.

    Closed the day out by checking out some new sets for beginner's rap... found one really great spot! It is over in the main canyon and will fit nicely into a simple loop for future rope days.

    Forgot my camera!!! oh, well... hopefully Jody got some shots!
    Deadman Canyon: North Fork
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Fun set of hours scouting out a good rappelling site... working out the options for anchors... exploring a new canyon!!!... and finding a good spot for beginner level rope work. Now, we just need new equipment! Mine is all 20+ years old... and rope from Home Depot is not the best idea!?

    We will soon add a number of hiking loops that need rope safety for a sane day... so, we will have a few more hikes to get folks used to using ropes for shorter descents.

    Good day out!
    Deadman Canyon: North Fork
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Today was a looping hike... up Arch to confirm exit potentials on the east side of the lower canyon... then exploratory up upper Arch to the Roundup Grounds... then across the Roundup meadows... and down the closest Deadman Cut (Crinoid Canyon). Really need to get into Deadman and name/number all the canyons and spurs!

    This one... I hiked years ago then forgot about. At the top it runs right up to the trail (t107)... and provides a great bedrock walkway for most of the descent to the main branch. There are a few dryfalls to climb... but, overall a great route.

    Nice outing!!

    google+ picture set: ... 7697
    Deadman Canyon: North Fork
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Jack, Sandy, Sharon, Summer, Chica and Happy rounded out Terri's Friday hiking group for this nice hike up to the blocking waterfall... warm day... odd to think just three years ago this week we were down to 12 degrees below zero instead of the 50 degree start we enjoyed this morning!

    Now... heading back out and up for trail work on the "A"...
    Deadman Canyon: North Fork
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    12 hikers showed up for our Sunday Beginner's Hike! Walked them up canyon through a bit of scrambling... then, traversed out and over to the Roundup Grounds trail for an easier exit...

    ... found new spur trail route... nice!

    Did a pre-hike hike... explored the Broken Buttress Cut, exited out Cave Canyon, hiking down canyon in the upper section before accessing the trail.

    Basically, a rest day.
    Deadman Canyon: North Fork
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Well, today starts out with me slicing open some rather big blisters, leftovers from a very misguided effort yesterday.

    I began that day with the thought of an easy exploratory up a canyon near my house. Even though the trailhead would be just 1.5 miles away, for some reason I drove my truck over there instead of just walking; very, very glad I did that. Instead of heading off up into the planned canyon (...if planning is what you can call it) I headed up the Alamo Canyon wash towards Deadman Canyon, a drainage I'd never hiked in, but had glanced down into from the Roundup Grounds last year. It just sounded easier and I was sort of looking for a lighter day.

    Initially, it was ideal... very easy, everything sort of in miniature and it suggested a possible beginner's introductory hike for canyoneering. That came to halt with the first 20 overhanging waterfall. I skirted it easily, but the next 25 footer created a bit of a problem. I was 15' up it when my thoughts drifted to the worst case scenario potentials of what I was doing. I slipped foot, a rock breaking off in my hand, an unplanned for light headed moment... any of those and the fall would be very unforgiving. So, instead of completing the final 10', I decided to climb back down, discovering that the pack prevented that...hmmm... so, ditched the pack, dropping it back down to the base. Nice surprise when I retrieved the pack: I found my lost GPS unit tucked away in a side pocket. I thought I'd lost it in Colorado, but in fact when I'd loaned out the vest clip to a friend, I'd simply stuck the unit in the pocket and forgotten about it.

    Next waterfall was more in the 40' range... probably climbable, but...

    After hiking an easy couple of hours up the canyon I'd effectively exhausted the potentials, all that was left was the overly steep upper end that would terminate out in the cliffs overhead. The smart move would have been to traverse to an adjoining ridge or over to the Roundup Grounds trail, but for some odd reason I continued straight up the grade.

    After a couple of hours of scrambling and traversing around cliffs, I topped out on the ridge, putting me in range of a very interesting landmark: the Steamboat. This is a huge outcropping that towers out on the front of the lower range overlooking the city. One of those points you always look up at and wish you'd been on top of. From the valley floor it looks formidable. oddly enough, once up here on the ridge it was an easy walk up...

    Now, Six hours into what was supposed to have been a three hour hike I was hovering around the 8,000' mark and not liking the idea of downclimbing that ridge nor those waterfalls. I decided instead to loop hike back up to the forest road that would allow me to traverse easily over to Alamo Canyon trail, the trail I'd started out the day on.

    Trail is a bit of a misnomer for T104... it is really just a route. It follows the canyon bottom from the city up to around the 7,000' level. Getting to it's upper end ended up being around seven miles of dirt road, after a very nasty bushwhack to get up to the road.

    About now I began thinking about the issue of food and water. I had not packed for a long adventure day... really, just some fruit and a liter of Gatorade and three pints of water. Six hours into the day I sat down and ate an apple and orange, breaking fast. I do not eat breakfast nor even drink to start my day... I usually like to put in 4 hours first. Now, it was suggesting that food and water might become an issue for this effort. I had three apples and two oranges left, and a cantaloupe. I just kept moving and paused to eat the fruit every hour or so.

    There were some interesting diversion during the tedious road hike. The Forest service had finally put up Trailhead signs along the lower end of the upper level hikes. Where before, hardly anyone would be aware that there were accesses to trails, now huge signs marked the spots. Interestingly, accompanying these new signs were closure orders prohibiting anyone from entering the trails. The ATVs had made such a mess of the upper meadows that the area trails and roads have been closed down for the remainder of this year.

    Once onto the Alamo Canyon trail I realized that the heavy monsoon season had converted the upper mileage, normally a very nice meadow traverse, into a head high maze of thistle and flowers... no sign of path anywhere. No one had been through here this summer. fortunately, I'd done this route enough to manage to stay on the route. Underneath all that growth was the old service roadway for the Alamogordo Watershed... other than pushing through the heavy growth, the footing was easy.

    I'd saved my last pint of water... thinking I'd refill bottles at the springs in the top of the canyon. I did not have filter or tablets, but If worse came to worse I could at least have water to drink. I settled into a nice flowing pool there, soaking some wornout feet, and enjoying that bottle of water. I refilled two pints for emergency use... and dropped down int the rocky canyon bottom.

    I was down to the melon for food... and at 5:30pm finally took my first break of the day. It was one great melon. GPS unit told me that sunset was a bit over an hour away. I figured I was probably an hour and a half before getting out of the canyon, walking at a slower pace to conserve energy. I'd decided not to drink the unfiltered water; I was still sweating... any weird feelings were more likely associated with caloric intake (lack thereof). At my heavy bodyweight I burn over 800 calories an hour on the uphills and over 600 even moving down grade. I was likely going into a hard fat metabolism, which always feels a bit odd if I'm not trained up for it.

    Sun set... canyon grew dark. Walking was not too bad save for the feet which were only in shape for about a six hour effort. 12 hours out had turned them to mush. Oh, well.

    Finally, back to the truck I was really happy that I'd driven that 1.5 miles to the trailhead, cutting off 3 miles of extra walking from this day.

    I drank over 100 ounces of water... 80 ounces of protein shake once home, and still got nailed with interesting leg cramps during the night.

    Today.. well... wondering now what's up that south fork of Deadman's Canyon. Maybe I'll find out tomorrow?

    Permit $$

    Map Drive
    Paved - Car Okay

    To canyon trip
    From the main drag in Alamogordo (White Sands Blvd) take First street east to Scenic Drive, turn right (south) and follow to end of road, then take Alamo Canyon road to the left side of the city water tower... and follow to the end of road, parking next to the city water treatment plant. take off on the trail to the right side of the fence, follow for 1/2 mile to Alamo wash...
    page created by imike on Oct 01 2010 8:55 pm
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