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Leah's Lair - the Fissure, 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 3.5 of 5
Route Finding 1 of 5
Distance One Way 2.2 miles
Trailhead Elevation 6,481 feet
Elevation Gain 45 feet
Avg Time One Way 2 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 2.35
Interest Off Trail Hiking
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
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Preferred   Apr, Mar, Oct, Nov → Any
Seasons   ALL
Sun  5:46am - 6:11pm
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Our Slot Canyon!!
by imike

Slot Canyons are not a common feature in the Alamo area… but, we do have our one narrow cut: Leah’s Lair- the Fissure!


Though lying immediately adjacent to our most popular hiking route: the A Trail, it goes mostly unnoticed. The top shows as a narrow rocky cleft, obscured by overgrowth on the north end next to the trail.

Walking along the top… gazing down into the dark precipice, conjures images of bottomless depths. In fact, it is not all that deep, but it has enough fall away to inspire moments of anxiety for those venturing into its depths.

The entry is typically accomplished by walking over into the adjacent canyon to the south(N1- Grotto Canyon) and working your way down and around to the south side of the slit. The mouth is massively overgrown and at first glance does not appear to be worth the effort. In fact, look a bit higher and you’ll spot a narrow ledge winding across the top of the overgrowth. Follow that ledge route to enter the Fissure.

After the first corner you will need to drop down and crawl through a short cave… emerging into the open topped formation… which immediately drops down and away.

It continues to drop as you work your way along a very narrow ledge, with the dark drop away again giving you the feeling of unfathomable depths. In fact, you are not all that far from the bottom.

For many hikers, a rope may be a good idea… both to avoid unnecessary risks and to aid climbing back up the narrow slot.

At one point, many thousands of years ago, this feature extended well to the south. The same fault can be found across Grotto Canyon in the ridge on it’s south side. The erosion that created the canyon removed the Fissure from that area. That would have really been impressive…

…but, we take what we can get! This is our slot canyon… and is well worth a visit!

Leah really liked it… at least until it scared the pumpkin out of her!

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

2014-01-16 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 of 14 deeper Triplog Reviews
    Leah's Lair - the Fissure
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    energy better... might have been the cooler, cloudy morning? Oddly, got sunny in the afternoon; could have done without that! Hump Day past... could have done better. I'm beginning to wonder if there are any 12,000'+ days left in my hiking patterns.

    First part of day pure fun... lead Meetup group to peak at slow pace... hit the high point add-ons descending. AEG laps... not so much fun... but not too bad.
    Leah's Lair - the Fissure
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    I do not like afternoon hikes starting out into the heat! The morning canyons were fun, even if it may have been just as hot. Sundays are o be semi-rest days this month, but ideally I will have "earned" the lower AEG day with longer efforts leading into that day... with the month kicking off with a Sunday it just did not make sense to allow too big of a hole to develop, so... slow laps on the "A"... It is going to be a very long month!
    Leah's Lair - the Fissure
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    Day was scheduled for a timed ascent to Ortega Peak... and a made an early start with every intention of getting back early to work projects.

    But...

    Once hiking, I felt more like going longer and higher; score some of the upper elevation cool. It also felt like one of those "first days of the rest of your life..." so I carried along a notebook to plot out and re-plan the coming months of training. That is pretty much how the day progressed. Clouds rolled in midday. I scored some up down laps off Karr Canyon road. Eventually, I came back down and turned up the Ortega Spur trail, then realized it really needed to be swept, so I went down to the tools and brought them up... and swept the entire lower slab rock area.

    Looked as if I might make it back to the trailhead before 4pm but I ran into Joseph and Devon (local dentist?) running up the "A" trail. They asked me if I knew where the caves were... so, I hiked them up to the "A" Bluffs and then on to Leah's Lair. They seemed stoked!

    I snapped pics of them doing both features then showed them the trail connections to the old Gold Mine and the connecting spur to Terri'a Cut...

    Long day without food and just 60 oz of OJ... time to hydrate up and figure out what would make a nice cutting dinner.
    Leah's Lair - the Fissure
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    Met Cathy and Terri for the hike up to the top of the Marble Bluffs... and on to the old Gold Mine. Cathy headed down the "A"... Terri and I headed for the Peak. Ran into Kim and Julia near the Catwalk and walked them on up to the new Spur Trail and on to the peak.

    I'd hiked full time with Kim back a few years ago... this encounter might rekindle that process?

    We stuck together for the hike down to Leah's Lair where Kim went a bit crazy with the climbing... then even more so over at the Caves in the "A" Bluff (Kim's Kave!!).

    From there the group split up... the ladies headed on down... I headed back up for some AEG laps, then a small hit on trail work. The current section is a real batch of work! I'm looking forward to getting up out of the heavy gravel... maybe hit the peak in three weeks?

    So, yet another all day day. It will likely remain the pattern through April as the AEG has to continue to compile.

    Hiking such a soft pace makes for a fairly easy day... feet sore... legs cramping if I fail to hit the potassium at the needed levels, along with net fluid... but, other than that, easy.

    Nice to have made a substantial move in regards the classification of our group outings. I just need to work on our comparative Ortega ratings for each hike. Once each route is scored we will have a fairly workable process.

    Long off trail hike tomorrow... difficult enough to scare most everyone away. Nice!
    Leah's Lair - the Fissure
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    moderate effort... going short, just enough to hit the goal of 110,000' for February. Tomorrow, begin the 5,000' per day month? I need to work out a schedule to hit that average, including some 9,000'... 12,000' days.

    Time to chart food intake... I do not want another crash like yesterday. Long month ahead!
    Leah's Lair - the Fissure
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    John over with a request to check out the caves and Leah's Lair... so, Brenda joined us for an exploratory add-on with Ortega Canyon North extension to Michal's Traverse. We got lucky and found a drop in right at the huge dryfall formation...

    After the loop was completed, I stayed up and logged some laps... and a couple of hours of trail work.

    good day. Now... a week of pictures to edit and post!
    Leah's Lair - the Fissure
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    Feeling tired. Not sure if it was the early morning laps...up...down...up...or, the raking for hours... or the climbing up/down, in/out of the caves. Might simply be the low food volume and limited variety I'm eating while I cut body weight? I guess the simple 900' per mile grade of the hike to the peak could have done it. Just 4pm and I'm already tired.

    Terri's Meetup group: Lulu, Samat, Joe, Summer, Chica. With the newly added features along this trail, folks are gaining more interest. Yesterday's young group planning to revisit the area tomorrow. Then again, I'll be back, too... nothing new in that!
    Leah's Lair - the Fissure
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    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!
    Leah's Lair - the Fissure
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    Wednesday Looping
    second day of early out... today by mistake. It was 3:30am... thought it was an hour later, so just came over for some slow lapping before I meet Terri at 6am for the "real" hiking. Should be an easier day unless we add in the cave section down in Leah's Lair. Not certain if anyone meeting us for the second phase of the day hike... We'll hit the "A" trailhead mid morning before we loop back up to the Fissure... at least that is the plan. Guess I'll update as the day progresses...

    ... if I switch over to a Hotspot modem (from this USB device) I could just carry along the tablet and update during the hike! Guess I should see if Cricket offers that.

    Went as projected... except for dropping my flashlight to the bottom of the Lair... left rope up there; I'll go back to retrieve it and my light... with Jim?

    Snow settling in as we finished up!
    Leah's Lair - the Fissure
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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...

    Permit $$
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    Directions
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    To canyon trip
    This interesting feature is reached by hiking up trail T119, the -A- Trail. Around 2.2 miles up the trail near the 6500' level... look behind the dead trees and overgrowth on your right. You'll spot the narrow cleft. Approach with caution... enter with greater caution...
    page created by imike on Jan 16 2014 12:25 pm
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