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Ortega South - Jim's Cut, NM

no permit
31 2 0
Guide 2 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List NM > Southeast
4 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 3.5 of 5
Route Finding 3 of 5
Distance One Way 1.5 miles
Trailhead Elevation 4,588 feet
Elevation Gain 2,100 feet
Avg Time One Way 2 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 8.5
Interest Off Trail Hiking, Seasonal Waterfall & Seasonal Creek
Backpack No
Photos Viewed All Mine Following
19  2013-12-22
Quarry Canyon
Author imike
author avatar Guides 253
Routes 0
Photos 6,930
Trips 2,467 ( 21,513 miles )
Age 69 Male Gender
Location Cloudcroft, NM
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Apr, Mar, Oct, Nov → Any
Seasons   ALL
Sun  5:46am - 6:11pm
0 Alternative
Worth Finding!
by imike

In the Alamo area there are canyons... and then there are side canyons... Spur routes that are often better than the main cuts they branch off from. Jim's Cut is not better than Ortega Canyon South (then again, few canyons in this area are...)but it is good... very good.

Narrow and open near the base... nice bedrock walks... nicer bedrock dry falls. Not overgrown.

Narrow and somewhat more overgrown higher up... scrambly... looser talus slopes and rock jumbles working up through the Narrows below the Pinnacle. Once you've hiked this Cut one time your eye will instantly spot the very distinctive volcano looking Pinnacle formation that marks the entry to the middle section of the canyon.

This overly steep area will turn some hikers back...

... but they should continue on...

Through the Narrows and out into the upper portion you have the various options of moving north around and down into Ortega Canyon South... the great middle section...

...or spot the meadows saddle above the Bluff on "A" trail... and enjoy the fast and easy exit down "A" Trail...

...or stick to the canyon and side ridges to continue on up with varying overviews of the surrounding areas.

The upper portion of the canyon does become somewhat overgrown, losing the appeal of the lower sections... better to enjoy an earlier exit.

Jim's Cut is a hidden canyon worth seeking out!

This hike effectively includes the lower portion of Ortega Canyon South... you park at the lower city water tank on Thunder Road. Check out that canyon description for notes on how to access... once into Ortega Canyon South, there will be two cuts moving off to your right. The first one moves up and behind some Palisade Cliffs, terminating soon thereafter. Jim's Cut comes in higher up... you will have experienced some minor bouldering before you reach the right side drainage. The mouth of the cut is a very distinctive steep waterfall (12-16' tall) coming in from the right. It is slightly hidden but easy to find.

Note: you might as well go ahead and enjoy Ortega Canyon South up to the big lower falls... then hit Jim's Cut to loop up and over into the middle section of Ortega Canyon South to enjoy the full mile of bedrock walkway there... hiking down to the top of the Falls... Very Nice

Your true mileage and AEG will be determined by your choice of routes!

Check out the Triplogs.

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2013-12-22 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
    Ortega South - Jim's Cut
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Fourth month of the progressive canyon series was less progressive yet still very appreciated. last minute changes yielded seven hikers for this bit of up down/in out... and the shorter day seemed well enjoyed by everyone. Lisa will hopefully come again... and next time bring along more than a pint of water in a waist pack with no food! I gave her three qts of energy drink to carry her day; she did great! I was in the final stages (I hope!) of my first head cold since 1994... a bit dingy with the low grade fever... but it was a much easier day... on mileage and elevation... and no demanding climbs.

    A good day.

    Next month... back to harder!
    Ortega South - Jim's Cut
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Aleana drove over from El Paso... her first time to hike here. Emphasis on photos for her, and looking for more difficult hikes. So, did a sampler loop. She will be back for more.

    Displaced my training day; I need to get back on schedule with that!

    Heading back up to explore the Cave on Friday; see if there is more to it than initially appears...
    Ortega South - Jim's Cut
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    no one signed up for this first of series canyon traversing hikes, so I diverted a couple hours over to re-routing and improving the traversing sections... the really nice augment: connected the section from Ortega South, middle above the lower dryfall, to Jim's Cut.. and across "A" Ridge North and down into Terri's Cut right above the middle falls where Terri's Traverse connects over from the "A" trail. So... now we have a great route that allows easy access across three canyons and all the connecting ridges.

    These "minor" canyons (rising into the 6,000' levels as opposed to 7,000'+ of the major cuts) make for great intermediate level hikes... as does just hiking the big cuts to about that level. Nice to not have to do in/out routes...

    It will be interesting to see just how many different connecting lower loops we can develop from all these lower traverses. Terri is back next month; perhaps start a weekly series based on just that?

    Light rain... but hopefully it will clear by 3pm for the Beginner's Hike over in the Alamo Canyon drainage.
    Ortega South - Jim's Cut
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Early start was lessened by too little sleep... I'd planned to log longer hours but I couldn't reach the cached water on Ortega Peak, so I headed back down early. Ran into Jim just above the trailhead; he was just headed out at noon, up into the heat I was happy to be getting out of.

    More sleep... more fluids... longer hours: all goals for JUne?
    Ortega South - Jim's Cut
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    The day was planned as a sample hike day, ideally like what I hope to be my every day outing through June. I awoke early, but a bit before 4am it just looked socked in over the mountain... too oppressive to head out. I did odds and ends and hit the trailhead belatedly at 5am. The extra time allowed me to recall that this would be a Memorial Day hike.

    So: Camo pants and shirt... field boots. MRE. 1/2 gallon chocolate milk. 1/2 gallon OJ. 20 oz Prune Juice. Monster Energy drink. Gallon of HOH. Crutch.

    Finding a nice rock slab around 10:30am I reflected on the day. I thought of the uncle I never met... the uncle I was named after. My mom's brother who forever will reside in the bottom of the bay in Hawaii among the ruins of the Arizona. I've lived thrice his short years. I'm not sure what thoughts would serve as a worthy memorial to his sacrifice.

    The Monster drink powered the initial hours of the day...

    The MRE: cheesy egg with veggies, crackers, salsa verde... apple drink. I skipped the scone and apple butter... saved the milk shake. I downed the prune juice waiting for the entree to heat up. I slipped into a pancho when the light drizzle started. I wrote some journal notes.

    I cached the water. I carried the oj back down the hill.

    I'm hiking with a crutch, but as was noted on the last few group outings: my slow is faster than most folks fast. It's still slow and I avoid the steeper section up to Ortega Peak. I log hours. I score AEG. June might be an odd AEG record month for me. You'd think that would come with full and healthy function. I think it may come through the plodding of hours? A month of slow and steady... and long? Maybe.
    Ortega South - Jim's Cut
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Terri's Friday group (with no more Terri!) has dwindled down to Cathy! Ross joined in for this group outing with speculation about whether or not to do the second phase of the hike. Cathy had time restraints, so I adjusted the route to include the exceptional lower section and the best of the middle section. Then, I began looking for a possible connecting traverse route to allow for a more varied descent. Low and Behold: it was right there! We were able to catch not only the very best of the middle section dry falls in Ortega South, but all of the best of Jim's Cut! That made for an exceptional loop and the shortened route allows for an easy paced return to the cars in time for their noon bridge games.

    I am moving the Friday outings to 7am starts. Nicely hazy this morning so the heat was not too great of an issue, but folks were seeking out the shady rocks for the rest breaks.

    The new traversing route credits to Cathy... as might this loop in general. Done in reverse it could make an exceptional in/out hike to score the huge dryfall section in Ortega South without having to do the killer Ortega Ridge section.

    lots of hours not to score much AEG... but, exceptional settings!
    Ortega South - Jim's Cut
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Not paying attention hiking before sunrise... walked over into the wrong canyon! Provided a good reason to explore options for traversing up and over, finally getting into the right canyon... and heading up Jim's Cut... it was nice!

    Explored more cave options at the Bluffs... then back down to meet Bill... for a trip up Terri's Cut. Today included Terri clearing all the upper Class II climbs! Nice!!!

    Back up exploring the west side caves in the Bluffs... then over to Leah's Lair... full descent with Terri confirming the hot airflow coming out of the lower cave entry. Today there was no wind; something is generating hot air?!!

    Skipped the trail work... home early. Exceptional weather!
    Ortega South - Jim's Cut
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    meetup group hike...15 hikers. Great, warmer day... folks from El Paso and Las Cruces drove over to check out one of our local canyons. Hard for everyone to imagine that any of our cuts could really amount to much... as I originally thought.

    Good group of folks... nice outing. 225 pictures! Hard to document with so many people spread out... sized the day down to around 180 shots (album over on Google+).

    Link: ... 4738775681

    Jim split off and took Marty up to Ortega peak... I walked the group down, then headed back up to round out my AEG... sort of hoping I catch them at the Gold Mine; we could then show Marty Quarry Canyon... but, I missed it by 100'...

    Good day out...
    Ortega South - Jim's Cut
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Scheduled and rescheduled... day was to be a recovery hike from yesterday's long mileage. Snow and rain made that mileage zero! Jim had asked to alter the approach: tag on the Quarry and Quarry Canyon then descend The Spur... sounded reasonable...

    ...then he called to offset the start (11am instead of 9am)... and given the snow, made sense to catch a few hours of melt off. I just headed up early and met him above the Quarry. Great hour of just enjoying the sun exposed rock faces.

    Easy pace with great overviews carried us to the old gold mine... then up the "A" to the Bluff, the landmark hiding the easy access over and down into the Spur. The snow finally caught up to us as we dropped into that shadowed cut.

    Instead of descending the bottom of the canyon we hiked the north ridge... mostly snow free... and keeping us high enough to enjoy the distinctive landmark: The Pinnacle. From the upper ridge it appears as an odd balanced rock... from below and west it appears as a volcano looking mini-peak. Jim scrambled to the top for pics... not really a good idea: rotten rock ready to go any time. I do not think this feature will exist for too many more years!

    Off the Pinnacle... down the ridge... into the Canyon bottom... effectively below the Narrows and into the more open, bedrock pathway. Just Nice! It had been years since I'd first hiked up this cut... and it was much better than I recalled. It was good!

    Down and out... and since Jim had never hiked Ortega South, we turned up canyon to enjoy what may be the best of the best in this area. We turned back at the big falls... hiked out.

    Back at the "A" Trail... the sun not yet set... I mentioned finding a man made trail up Short Canyon, off the "A".. so, off we went to round out the day.

    Closed out the day as the sun set.

    Nice day!

    I'll post photos tomorrow!!

    Permit $$

    Map Drive
    Paved - Car Okay

    To canyon trip
    From Scenic Drive in Alamogordo, NM turn east up Thunder Road... drive up to the first city Water Tank and park. Walk up the paved roadway... looking for the canyon to the north of the upper city water tank. Enter that canyon where the road crosses. You will cross private property (defined by fences); be respectful... to date it is not posted and access is good. Nice to keep it that way!
    page created by imike on Dec 22 2013 7:23 pm
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