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Cactus Cliffs Cut, NM

no permit
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Guide 0 Triplogs  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 3 of 5
Distance One Way 2.55 miles
Trailhead Elevation 5,511 feet
Elevation Gain 1,935 feet
Accumulated Gain 2,011 feet
Avg Time One Way 3 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 9.25
Interest Off Trail Hiking & Seasonal Waterfall
Backpack No
Dogs not allowed
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   ALL
Sun  5:46am - 6:13pm
0 Alternative
Leave This One Alone!
by imike

As I was making my way up through the cacti and spiny overgrowth so common to this cut, the thought came that perhaps this route should not be written about... but... nearing the terminating cliffs, I realized I was having fun!

Someone else might find the same pleasure as I was enjoying...?

The mileage and elevation gains orient from where you will be parking your car: at the Fire Station. The cut itself is less than one half mile long, but there will be plenty to make your day.

Mouth of Marble Canyon: .80 Miles/ 4800'
Mouth of Marble Canyon North, North Spur (N2): 1.39 Miles/ 5000'
Mouth of Slab Canyon (N4): 1.77 Miles/ 5204'
Mouth of Cactus Cliffs Cut (N5): 2.16 Miles/ 5513'
Cactus Cliffs: 2.5 Miles/ 6300'
Top of Canyon: 2.55 Miles/ 6385'

The (N) Cuts all orient to your left... off of Marble Canyon North...

After a nice steep entry, you find yourself pushing through a thick overgrowth, to discover: a waterfall! As you work your way around and up you realize that the entry is really a 300' tall cascading dry falls formation, full of way too much cacti... and not enough good scramble.

Upon reaching the lip of the upper edge, the hike does get easier, but never easy. The route probably averages 3,000' per mile grade... and the next section below the Cactus Cliffs is overgrown!

Fortunately, the Cliffs pose no real problem... there is a nice, spiny scramble up and through!

Once on top of the Cactus Cliffs (a lower band of cliffs winding across the top of N5, N6, and N7... you can decide to follow the cliffs around to ascend to Ortega Peak up the Ortega Peak Cut (N8)... or perhaps down Slide Canyon (N7)... or head north to connect with Slab Canyon (N4)... or...?

Take the time to check out the Canyons cut into Hershberger Ridge across Marble Canyon North... and realize that yes, there are cuts more difficult than the Cactus Cliffs Cut!

Fun for All!

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

2014-01-07 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
    Cactus Cliffs Cut
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    First in the Fall Series for the more difficult Canyon hikes... Ross, Mary, Lu. 7 hour hike shifted to 9 hours with one of the hikers sick. Still, great route...great day. We need to go back up when Mary is not feeling the acrophobic dynamic so acutely... she did not get to enjoy the moments as much as she could. One of my favorite routes... I enjoy the side hill, cliff top above the canyon up to the Tongue.

    link to photo set: ... ZxQ9
    Cactus Cliffs Cut
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    Well, we thought we were checking out a new canyon, spotted a few weeks ago from Hershberger Ridge... but, it turned out to be the Cactus Cliff Cut... so, a redux of a bad memory hike. Turned out to be a very nice canyon... my first and only prior ascent was a bad day; it altered my perception!

    So... there still must be an unexplored canyon off the north side of Marble North... before we get all the way up to Slide Canyon...???

    Descent also was intended to explore a new ridge canyon... but somehow we ended up in N3!!! We thought we'd found another good cut... for awhile.

    Weather balloon electronics and very old glass fragments rounded out the day... along with sleet and freezing rain.

    good day out with Ross.
    Cactus Cliffs Cut
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    Monday Marble Madness
    my normal solo exploratory day was joined by Timmy and Juarisca ( that's what can happen when hikes are posted on the Meetup Calendar!)... so, I headed up N4 to see what it would be like without all the over growth. It was nice!

    Once up the cut, we tramped up and around the Cactus Cliffs... where the pace slowed to a crawl with an over focus on fossil formations in the cliffs.

    Day was nice... enjoyed the off trail ramble up and around to Ortega Peak... including checking out the overhanging rock (Terri's Terrace?)

    To round out their day, we dropped into Leah's Lair... with daylight illuminating to the very bottom... and, checking out that deeper area where Jim had speculated last week about the possibility of the Fissure continuing on down... we discovered: the Fissure continues on down! There is a cave taking off and down from the apparent bottom of the cut! Need to go back with rope and lights... who knew? Timmy wants it named after him...?... Timmy's Tomb... Timmy's Trench... Timmy's Trough? We need to get down into it to check out the features. Then we can name it.

    Next... to the Bluffs for a trip through those caves... got photos of them popping out high up the west side of the Bluff. Nice.

    Finished up with a downclimb into the Gold Mine Pit...

    Overall... a very nice day! And, there was some exploration...
    Cactus Cliffs Cut
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    Monday Marble Madness

    These Monday exploratory hikes are supposed to provide interesting challenges, but I'd thought I'd about finished discovering new drainage cuts up in Marble Canyon. Today was to conclude the final new canyon... and the coming month or so would be re-hiking the various cuts and ridges within the area.


    Good start... cold morning (18 degrees)... clear sky

    I'd checked out what I thought would be N5 (fifth cut off the north side of Marble Canyon North) last Monday, gazing down over the top cliffs. I knew it would present an interesting entry challenge...

    ... but turning up into the canyon this morning it felt wrong. It climbed too steeply and the big blocking boulder was not in place across the mouth of the canyon. A little ways up the cut it occurred to me that perhaps I was in the smaller ridge canyon I'd looked down into last week... and discounted as too short of a cut to be worthy of hiking or writing about.

    ...soon, I knew I was not where I intended, other than it was N5... it was the fifth cut, but it was not going where I thought N5 should go.

    It was simply going up. I was to find out that this entry was effectively a 300' tall cascading dry falls... that was a scramble beyond what I enjoy. Halfway up I decided to reverse my ascent and look for an alternative route to loop up... unfortunately, turning and looking below I realized I could not downclimb the narrow foot jam slot I'd just climbed up!

    That brought on one of those interesting moments wherein thoughts drift to "what if... and why" like, "...what if this cut cliffs out above me?" and "...why did I not charge up my cell phone yesterday... instead of leaving it back in the truck to charge up during my hike?"... and "...when am I going to buy that Spot device?"

    ... I finally reached the pourover lip of this cascade...

    ...and crawled over to the small sunlit spot to try to thaw out my frozen fingers! I'd switched out of the nice warm gloves into fingerless leather gloves for the climb. Why oh why do thawing digits hurt like that!? Thawing feet or thawing hands... worst pains I've ever experienced... bar none.

    During that first 300' I'd decided not to try to clear a route; I would not be returning nor suggesting this to anyone else... but now, up and warming to the moment, it occurred to me: I'm old and out of shape. In shape... younger... this might be just someone's cup of tea. And, for some off reason my acrophobia (?) had not really flared up! I was not clinging to the rock and clawing my way up the hill (when it does flare up I've been known to do a death crawl up 20 degree slopes!)

    In fact... I was sort of enjoying the thought of doing this again... maybe when I'm trained back up... in better shape. Could I wait until I'm younger?

    As I continued on towards the line of cliffs above me I had an oddly passing thought: a perverted dialogue from Unforgiven echoed around me: As if the canyon sensed my fear... knew my weakness: "... I'm going to hurt you... not nice like I've been hurting you, but, hurt you bad!"

    Should I name this cut Little Bill Canyon?

    The cliffs gave me a nice slot to slide through... the canyon was over.

    From that point on I hiked the upper edges of successive cliffs. My intended canyon was still three canyons away. I discovered two more cuts between the one I did and the one I intended to do. I also spotted a couple more across Marble Canyon North that would have to be checked out.

    Monday Marble Madness would continue for months to come!

    I made my way above N6, N7 (Slide Canyon) to N8 (Ortega Peak Cut)... and followed the north side ridgeline of N8 up to the "A" Trail.

    It was early enough in the day, so I decided to hit Ortega Peak... easy walking after the 3,000' per mile slope of N5!

    Brief stop on top, then down the "A"... with a side trip to check out yet another Marble Canyon spur: 1,000' Cut. It looks promising, if not inviting. That full exploration is for another day. I'd been up since 2am... was out of fluid... had not eaten any breakfast... and not brought any food along on the hike!

    I think the GPS miss-calculated my down time. I was moving so slow up N5... it thought I was standing still!

    If I were trying to score AEG this would be a stupid way to go about it! For getting back into shape, it may be ideal.

    So... tomorrow... a day off!

    Permit $$

    Map Drive
    Paved - Car Okay

    To canyon trip
    Follow 10th Street to its far eastern end... park at the city park next to the FireStation. Walk south across the empty field to the concrete apron'd mouth of Marble Canyon. Turn left into the canyon, and walk up into Marble Canyon North, noting the mileages and elevations as noted above.
    page created by imike on Jan 07 2014 5:35 pm
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