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Deadman Canyon: South Fork, NM

no permit
28 1 0
Guide 1 Triplog  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List NM > Southeast
0 of 5 by 0
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 2 of 5
Distance One Way 2 miles
Trailhead Elevation 4,762 feet
Elevation Gain 1,500 feet
Accumulated Gain 1,540 feet
Avg Time One Way 3 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 7.13
Interest Off Trail Hiking, Seasonal Waterfall & Seasonal Creek
Backpack No
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 Early Spring
Sun  5:51am - 6:02pm
0 Alternative
It's the Stops that Kill Ya!
by imike

The South Fork section of Deadman Canyon fortunately includes that really nice 1.5 miles of pleasant canyon bottom hiking, shared with the North Fork. Once they split, the characteristics are nothing alike. Where the North Fork remained nicely open and ambling, the South Fork closes in immediately. Right after the first turn you are blocked off by a 25' overhanging waterfall... that can be traversed very steeply around to the right. This pattern continues as you are blocked by various falls and chutes. Through this section my GPS unit recorded me as taking nearly an hour of downtime, yet I never stopped for a break! Climbing the falls was interpreted to be standing still. It does not take long to make you way up and out of the steeply cut drainages, into the broad basin that comprises the north side of the mountain below the Steamboat formation. The drainages fan out, but if you need a destination, head up to Steamboat Caverns (more like Steamboat Cave-In) at the base of the cliffs below the formation. There is no safe, easy or good route all the way to the top from this area. If you want to peak out, move further to your left (east) around into the next major drainage valley (Middle Fork) and work your way up through the cliffs to the ridge. From there it is an easy hike on up to the top of the Steamboat formation.

If you are not using this canyon to access the Steamboat, the better end to this hike is to not go all the way up to the Cave, but to hike east and north across the adjacent drainages, heading for the Roundup Grounds. The terrain allows for relatively easy movement and if you are really lucky you will slide around the hills coming out over in the far North Fork drainage just above the large waterfall. From there it is not far on over and around to the Roundup Trail.

Or, enjoy your downclimb back in the South Fork drainage. While none of the falls really comprised a technical climb coming up, you may want to have 80' of rope along to facilitate lowering your pack (and self?) down the cuts.

I'd describe the setting in the South Fork cut to be intimate. It is fairly closed in, though not to the extent of a slot canyon. You can reasonably expect to have the canyon if not the whole drainage to yourself.

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2010-10-05 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: South Fork
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    Beginner Hike brought out a nice group to enjoy our Sunday afternoon loop. 13 hikers on this day. Terri took most on up past the Riparian area and a ways up the E2 cut. I hiked the others down and around the tops of the cliffs checking out places to stage some practice rappelling sessions.
    Deadman Canyon: South Fork
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    early start... long day. Made our way up the correct canyon this time... and it was nice. the Upper regions did not offer much other than overviews into future routes... and access easily up to the Steamboat formation. We encounter the site of a plan wreck with most of the plane long gone.

    We exited below the Steamboat... down upper Deadman... into middle Dead... and that provided a great descent. We hit the Spur trail over to Roundup Ground trail... and down and out.

    We worked our way at various points around to see 4-6 more routes to check out.. the most dramatic will likely be BlackFace... the canyon immediately north of Black Rock. It appears to be cut off low down with a towering Face of Black rock. We could not see all the crevices... maybe there will be access???

    Steamboat access from the west end is not going to happen... need to loop the south side (Mule Canyon north) to check for routes... but more likely it will be from upper Deadman to the far east saddle.

    Sunny with breezes... 50's... very nice out!!
    Deadman Canyon: South Fork
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    Exploratory to find out if we could descend off the Ridge down into lower Deadman... got lucky and found a nice looping approach, and as we climbed the chosen cleft, saw signs of Elk...? That told us early on we would make it up and through the cliffs... elk had been coming down to the riparian area up Deadman! I've never seen them this low nor in the area, but clearly they'd cut out a clear trail. The cliffs section: surprised to find that elk would do such a steep climb. It was good for us. Also surprised at how much distance and elevation we had to do after clearing the cliffs. The top of the Ridge was way on up.

    Dropped over the Ridge on the West side, looped around the top of RockSprings Canyon to check out the trail we spotted last week. It proved out (made its way around to the bedrock cut) and extended all the way out and around out of RockSprings. By the time the trail died out the side ridge provided easy walking. We exited the canyon and checked out the upper Alamo Forks... they look good, and there is a cave to boot! More exploratory!!!

    Clear and sunny... calm to start, temps in the 20's. Breeze by midday... still sunny but storm coming?

    Another exceptional day out... came home and reviewed Ross's video of Arch Canyon from Saturday. He's been wearing a Go-Pro... and it is beginning to yield results!
    Deadman Canyon: South Fork
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    Terri and two new hikers (visiting for the next few months) along on an easy connecting loop to loosen up after jury duty trial. I'm back in the pool on Monday... and the pattern repeats for the next two months... hard to believe they make you serve for 3 months! Hiking not an emphasis for the rest of the year! I guess maybe start training again in January...?
    Deadman Canyon: South Fork
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    Will and his son showed up for the Beginner hike up Deadman... along with Paul. They did well enough to tag on Arch Canyon.

    Lots of hikers out and about; the new signs may be working!

    Will was tracking the hike using HAZ Trac on his phone... seems to love the app. He's going to check out my tablet and try to adapt it... maybe I could then run that app...?
    Deadman Canyon: South Fork
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    morning group hike followed the middle branch of the canyon to it's effective top... then we opted to check out the huge cave opening up in the middle of the Steamboat. That was a scramble... snakes and rockslides... nice spot... some real cave potentials?

    ...exited by ascending along the base of the cliffs up and around into Mule Canyon below the chin of the Lady. Dropped down and across Deadman West... onto RockSpring ridge... into RockSpring Canyon and on out. Everyone a bit worn and worse for wear... good outing.

    Ross and Mark... Paul at the start.
    Deadman Canyon: South Fork
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    10 hikers for the nice 2pm hike... including Lynn, the new author for the official trails guide for the Lincoln National Forest... interesting and informative conversations.

    Ongoing topic: rating hikes, hikes that I do: are they always too difficult? Email confirming same today: longtime Friday hiker no longer planning to hike because the hikes are off trail.

    Post hike hike for AEG... Ross came along.
    Deadman Canyon: South Fork
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    Well, the feet healed up enough to allow me to go out and check the other fork of Deadman Canyon... and, while it was nicely different than the north fork, I'm not sure it has enough strong points to make it an annual event. The North Fork is just a bit more fun. There is a nice 25' chute to climb, but hiking solo I tend to avoid even easy climbs... just one slip, one mistake and that's it for the day (month... year... ???)

    today I made the simple traverse over to the Roundup Grounds to hit the trail for the hike back to the truck... that was so much simpler than downclimbing the falls in the canyon or doing the stupid monster loop out the top... it was fairly easy hiking. I got lucky and came out of the North Fork Canyon just above it's big waterfall, and from there it was just a bit of ridge hiking to get to the trail.

    It was funny... at 3.5 hours into the hike I finally stopped for a break. My GPS unit showed that I'd already had nearly an hour of down time. I realized it interpreted my time climbing those waterfall areas as resting!!

    I noticed a couple more drainages to go check out... probably not much to them, but you never know over here. I realized that so far hiking in the canyons near Alamo I have yet to ever hiked down the one I hiked up... usually the thought of having to do a certain down climb always spurs me further on and over, hoping for easier. It is a stupid hiking pattern to return down a drainage you've never yet gone up; it has caught up with me before, I'm sure it will again. This must fall into that old dog/new trick range?

    Made it home just as the rain hits today...

    Permit $$

    Map Drive
    Paved - Car Okay

    To canyon trip
    From the main drag in Alamogordo (White Sands Blvd) take 1st street east to Scenic Drive, turning to your right (south) and following Scenic Drive one mile to it's end at the water storage tank... take the road around the tank to the left (Alamo Canyon) and follow it's twisted route to the end. Park adjacent to the large city water treatment facility. The trail begins next to the fence on the right. The first half mile is along an old jeep route. When if drops down into Alamo Wash, cross the wash to the south and enter the Deadman Canyon drainage.
    page created by imike on Oct 05 2010 12:11 pm
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