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Ridge Canyon (N3), NM

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Rated  Favorite Wish List NM > Southeast
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Canyons are inherently risky. Flash floods occur without notice on sunny days. Technical skills & surrounding topography knowledge required yet does not eliminate risk.
Statistics
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Difficulty 4 of 5
Route Finding 3 of 5
Distance One Way 1.1 miles
Trailhead Elevation 5,250 feet
Elevation Gain 1,000 feet
Accumulated Gain 1,050 feet
Avg Time One Way 1 hour
Kokopelli Seeds 4.6
Interest Off Trail Hiking, Seasonal Waterfall & Seasonal Creek
Backpack Possible - Not Popular
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
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Preferred   Apr, Mar, Oct, Nov → Any
Seasons   ALL
Sun  5:48am - 6:07pm
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Water
It's A Ditch!
by imike

Sometimes Less is More…

This small cut is a great example of that dynamic.


Ridge Canyon (N3) is a bedrock based shallow “ditch” sliced out of the Ridge just south of Grotto Canyon in the Marble Canyon North drainage.

While it lacks the drama of towering cliffs (for the most part it has side walls in the 8’ to 20’ range), it provides a constant challenge and setting that many of the larger area canyons are missing out on. This closed in, very steep route is just fun.

It tends to be slightly overgrown, yet there is always a bedrock path leading ever up. The slanted rock base is augmented with fun Class I dry falls. The scrambling breaks the hike into a full body exercise. You will work your way up this canyon.

Destination: The canyon narrows out on to the ridge about halfway up the mountain. You have the option to return the way you came… or drift over to the south to check out the huge dry falls halfway up N5 (Big Rock Canyon)… or walk a short ways over to the Grotto’d falls halfway up N2 (Marble North, North Spur).

If you plan to descend this Dry Waterfall, make sure you bring along some rope! It would make for a nice loop to loop down this more open canyon.

You could head up and over to connect with the “A” Trail (t119)… but it will be a bit of an off trail chore.

To begin your gorge adventure, hike about one mile up Marble Canyon… following the canyon bottom along the north drainage. Just past Mable Bluff turn to your left. This branch drains N1, N2, N3 and N4 down into the main section of Marble North.

Enjoy the next .3 mile… you will pass an obvious cut on your right (N4), another “ditch” canyon… working your way up to the split of N2, N3, N4 (5250‘). The main channel is N2(Spur Canyon) with N1 (Grotto Canyon) taking off to the left… N3, Ridge Canyon, slides up the bedrock to your right. The entry is slightly overgrown but not too hard to spot.

Take the time to find this little gem; it is worth the effort.


Leave No Trace and +Add a Triplog after your canyon trip to support this local community.

2013-12-15 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 Review
    Ridge Canyon (N3)
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Marble Canyon/ N3: Ridge Canyon/ N5 Waterfall/ N2 Upper/ T119 / Scenic Drive…

    I was scheduled for a training day… start early… go long.

    The other two hikers backed out. I stayed up too late. Seemed to be ideal to put this too hard day off for a few more weeks. After very brief consideration I’d made the mental adjustment from training/hard work over to playing/slow pace.

    N3... Ridge Canyon.

    I’d missed my Monday Marble Canyon hit… substituted a group hike up Ortega South by request. I could catch back up by checking out this odd cut in the North Marble drainage. I figured it would be a big nothing; getting it off the list would give me an easy outing and allow me to check this little canyon off the list.

    Further… since folks have signed up for my next Monday Marble up N2 I could loop over and drop a rope over the edge of the terminal waterfall. That would set us up to finally scale that obstacle.

    Sounded like a plan…

    As an augment to make up for some of the missing miles… I decide to pretend I was back in better shape and walk over to the hike… and walk home. That would add 5-6 miles to the day.

    Late start, but eventually packed and off. I’d blended up blueberries, apples and banana… nice quart of fresh energy. I grabbed a couple of thermos bottles of chocolate milk. 75 oz fluid for this shorter, cold day. Sounded about right.

    Before I’d made it to the canyon I’d already had to stop and hack off the sleeves of my sweat shirt… just too hot! (50 degree high for the day!)

    Once in Marble Canyon it felt good from the getgo…

    Rewarded with Mountain Goats in the clefts above the Quarry! Unfortunately, my camera could not really capture the moment… need better zoom!

    I worked up and around into the north cuts. I recalled that all three (N1, N2, N3) kicked off about the same spot; N2 being the main drain, the other two draining smaller areas? Oddly, I passed what appeared to be yet another cut that flowed off the same ridge as N3... Were there two ridge canyons?

    N3, my canyon of the day, headed off where I thought it should… and interestingly steeply… it held in that vein. Effectively, this was either a tilted slab or small falls, with a bit of overgrowth. I went slow, cleared the route, and totally enjoyed every moment of this miniature cut. It just might become one of my favorites for a solo morning out. Steep!!

    Near the top I drifted over and out… and sure enough there was a second “ditch” running down the ridge further south. The lower cut must have been the mouth of this second ridge canyon. It does not appear to have the potential of the little gem I enjoyed, but I guess it has to go on to the Monday schedule to be fully checked out… N4!

    While I was wandering around I drifted over to overlook N5... And found its huge waterfall, dividing the canyon into upper and lower sections like N2. I did not spot any way up or down… 80-100’ ?… but that would be for another day.

    Heading up and across to the north I made my way to upper N2... Finding an old two radio, commercial quality… Forest Service?…along the way.

    …and dropped into the canyon bottom above its waterfall. I hiked down to the edge of the drop… looked over… and realized:

    I need more rope!

    My memory of this grotto falls: 16’ to 20’? I was carrying a lighter rope. I’d doubled it… with interval knots… reducing it to 50’? Fighting a stiff up canyon wind, I finally got it over the falls… and from what I can tell, if did not reach the bottom! I guess we’ll find out on Monday. 50’!!! I can’t see how it could be that high.

    The Monday exploratory hike was to scale this falls… then check out this upper portion of canyon I’d never hiked. Three people signed up for this outing? I’m not sure why. The lower section is great… the upper? So… instead of heading back down Ridge Canyon, I decided to see what was at the top of N2.

    Nasty… Prickly… Overgrown…

    No good reason to hike that portion of the canyon… except to confirm what is there. Now I know. Monday, if we make it up the Falls (50’!!), we’ll divert down and skip the upper mess that is N2.

    Ran out of fluids around noon… fortunately potholes in the bedrock had recently been filled with melted snow! Augmented with 40 ounces.

    So… 12.8 miles… 2500’ of difficult ascent. 9.5 hours out… turns out it was a training day after all!

    Permit $$
    None


    Directions
    Map Drive
    or
    Road
    Connector trail - Not Applicable

    To canyon trip
    In Alamogordo: Take 10th Street to its far eastern end. Park at the city park next to the Firestation. Walk south over to the mouth of Marble Canyon. Follow the directions noted above.
    page created by imike on Dec 15 2013 11:46 am
    $17 3L Hydration Bladder
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