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RockaChuckey Wash, 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 2 of 5
Distance One Way 3.25 miles
Trailhead Elevation 5,469 feet
Elevation Gain 2,010 feet
Accumulated Gain 2,160 feet
Avg Time One Way 3 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 10.45
Interest Off Trail Hiking, Seasonal Waterfall, Seasonal Creek & Peak
Backpack Possible - Not Popular
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
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Preferred   Apr, Mar, Oct, Nov → Early
Seasons   Late Autumn to Early Spring
Sun  5:51am - 6:02pm
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Water
Taint Pretty, but It's Rocky!
by imike

One of the most prominent features in the frontal range is the long strand of cliffs jutting out above the city at about the 6,000' foot level. 1500' above most of Alamogordo. That rocky escarpment forms the front, and two side of the long peninsula known as "The Mesa". The one trail that was used to access that The Mesa, Goat Springs Trail, crossed private land, and is now closed off to the public. The towering cliffs cut off all other ready access from this west side... save for the path cut into the cliffs by RockaChuckey Wash. This drainage flowing down the far southwest side provides a possible egress for the motivated hiker.


The route described here does not begin at the mouth of the drainage, but instead starts out as a very steep ridge hike, utilizing an old straight uphill jeep track to climb 600 feet up to a prominent knob, then off trail up and around the next very prominent cliff face to get you to around 5500' elevation... 1,000 feet of climbing in just .7 mile from the base of the hill. That represents grades of 1200-1700' per mile for most of that first hit, and the little half mile walkover from the road is hardly adequate to get your legs warmed up enough for that effort.

Reaching the end of that jeep track, simply make your way above the knob and follow the ridge directly up towards that next obvious cliff face. I like to move up and around the right (south) at the very base of the cliff, but there is a route straight up and through the cliff... it is loose dirt and rock and very exposed... but it does reach the top. I would not use that path. Clinging to the base of the cliff and move counterclockwise around will get you to the top with far greater safety and even a bit less effort.

Once on top you'll enjoy an exceptional view, particularly of the drainage you want to drop into... to your right as you gaze up the mountain. The cut below you is RockaChucky and your destination. Walk down and around, entering where ever you feel safe. You can stay on the left side ridge above the drainage if you choose, at least for awhile. If you go immediately down you will see the large waterfall obstacle that was one of the reasons we approached the drainage from the ridge. It eliminates the need to confront that barrier.

Now, it is RockaChucky... for awhile. The name is descriptive. Small to medium size tumble of piles, ever shifting with the seasonal floods. There is one small ledge obstacle that will require an effort, but nothing of any major challenge. Eventually, when the path becomes too obscured or too unstable in the drainage, move out and follow it on the right side bench. As you draw towards the top, exit and work your way further out to your right if you want the easiest path to climb out of the drainage.

The headwater basin will be reached at about 2.6 miles into the hike,at 6,200;... and your destination, Little Peak, will be at about mile 3.2 at 6550'. Little Peak is the highest point on a series of ridge peaks at the upper end of the Mesa. Off to the south you will be overlooking Caballero Canyon and Alamo Canyon, along with Roundup Plateau, with Long Ridge and the Steamboat forming the southern backdrop. You will also be overlooking the Pipeline Ridge with it's interesting mini-peak. To the east lies Hershberger Peak, at the far extension of this ridge system you have been climbing.

Once you reach Little Peak, you can return by the same route, do the Mesa Loop, or continue on to Hershberger Peak (another 2.2 miles and 2100' up, plus some up/downs).

This is off trail hiking with some nice variety. It is demanding, and at points can be very unforgiving. Plan accordingly.

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

2010-02-14 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
    RockaChuckey Wash
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    Ross, Mary, Darrel along for this exceptional cut... adding in Quiet Canyon south side cliffs as an exit. Very nice loop. Added in new cliff ledge traverse at lower falls... a route we decided against last year! All good! Also, started the canyon approach at the bottom of the small cut south of the Prominent Point trail... that worked well!
    RockaChuckey Wash
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    what was to be a short, 3 hour exploratory... over six hours later had scored an ascent to the Mesa up Alamo Side Canyon... and confirmed the Dark Cliffs Cut as a likely route for accessing the top of those cliffs. The hike was stretched when I mentioned we could top out and look for the Tobias plane wreck site (learned about when researching the wreck site found last week over in Mule Canyon). So... that is what happened. Site did not yield much to see...

    Then, since Ross nor Will had ever been through the Mesa Gap... we used that to descend... then, we did a bit of routing for a better trail site to get across upper Quiet Canyon. Final: Prominent Point Trail. Nice day out.

    Note: Ross confirmed the metal can from our last hike was indeed a Mine Site Location marker. The document sealed in the Baking Powder can 74 years ago was in great shape. He ran the 1940 census and located the guy who'd signed the document! Now, he wants to go back and check out the cave higher up the cliffs!
    RockaChuckey Wash
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    Ross and Will along for this mid canyon exploratory. Turns out this section houses the most impressive water fall feature in the Alamo area, and right now it even has water! Upper pools can be heard streaming water between the three pools... then, there are a variety of additional pools at various levels along the length of the bedrock falls. Impressive.

    We did a steep exit, and hiked over to check out both The Cascades and lower Pock Rock...

    nice day
    RockaChuckey Wash
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    Hard not to put this little gem on the Fall calendar. John drove over from El Paso for his first hike with our Meetup.com group. Terri expanded her canyoneering experience with this challenging, shorter canyon outing.

    We added in the upper reaches of the canyon today. In all of the prior trips we'd been exiting the canyon onto the adjacent ridge that splits the two upper branches of the canyon. this time, we remained in the main cut... and it was good! More bedrock falls... lots of additional mini-climbs... overall just a better augment to the day.

    We hit the Mesa and looped around and down Rockachucky and Prominent Point...

    For some reason, I was beat up by days end... tired! (out of shape!??)

    Very good day out!
    RockaChuckey Wash
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    The Day was diverse...
    40%...70% chance of rain, with high temps in the 50's above 9,000'. We decided to stay below the major storms, and hit Goat Springs Trail (the old access point) to climb up onto the Mesa. From there, looped clockwise, climbing with nice overviews of the Marble Canyon drainage... peaks were obscured by the low hanging clouds. Umbrellas sufficed for the light rain during the first hours of the day.

    After looping to the south Mesa, and siting the various canyon and ridge potential hikes from there, we did a detour descent down Pock Rock canyon... neither Yuboa nor Karen had ever hiked the area, so I was trying to show them bits of a lot of different stuff. Karen had been avoiding coming over for any of my hikes (she'd heard odd rumors of crazy hard routes and too fast paces...?) and was apprehensive as the day began, but she fit right in. She was much impressed with the Pock Rock Gorge, even though it was full on rain by then and Parkas had replaced the umbrellas.

    We looped back around and up onto the Mesa after the canyon hit, then traversed over and down Rockachucky Canyon, exiting the ridge around on the trail from Prominent Point. Lots of hours. Lots of weather. Some spills, scrapes and blood... fun had by all!
    RockaChuckey Wash
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    Well... plan was for 4 hours, easy pace... easy elevation. Hiking up a close by easy trail I noticed a side canyon I'd never been up and in, so... day ended up with 8 very hard hours, not what was planned, and maybe more than was wise, but I got to enjoy discovering another canyon and found a southern route to Hershberger Peak.
    RockaChuckey Wash
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    Wow... been hiking these mountains and canyons steady for over three years and though I've often looked over into this drainage I simply thought of it as probably a wash wallow with a hyper steep, over grown wall at the end. But, now that I am filling my days with these exploratory hikes, it came time to make my way into and up this cut. I figured I'd go in, be back out in a couple of hours, then move over and explore the next ridge system.

    Wrong!

    Part of the aspect that made this unappealing was the encroaching development right in the mouth of the canyon... yet once beyond the few houses over there, the hike became immediately interesting. There was an old quarry with massive slabs still left tumbled about... and the overhanging walls rapidly closed in with occasional cut through glimpses at the towering cliffs of the Mesa, far overhead. The sculpted rocks walls down adjacent to the drainage bottom were constantly changing. This was nothing like what I had imagined.

    then, around a turn, the canyon closed into solid rock defile with winding narrows just a few yards wide, then a few feet wide... there was a mini-slot section, complete with dripping spring walls and shallow pools.

    The miles continued with more and more surprises... too many waterfalls to climb to keep track of, and the route never choked out. I was able to make it all the way up to the amphitheatre, a formation I'd noted many times from afar and always assumed could not be reached. Once there, I was only a few hundred feet below Hershberger Peak, and the route up to it's western meadowed slope was clear. I hiked up through the snow to just below the peak, then connected with the ridge leading back down to the Mesa... and hit Big Peak, Little Peak and then RockaChucky Wash, with a little extra downclimb to RockaChucky Fall, then an additional up climb to the top of Prominent Point above the old Jeep Track... right above my house.

    Nice day, with delightful discoveries... This canyon hike is nicer than any hike I've done in the Tucson area, in the sense of variety of moment... and with that special aspect of moving up and over rock, if that is what you enjoy. It does it for me.

    How this hike escaped the local hiking guides is beyond me...

    Total time out: 9.5 hours...
    RockaChuckey Wash
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    Well, interesting day out doing more exploratory canyons and ridges. I approached RockaChucky Wash below the obstructing waterfall today, just to check it out. I noted that it could be scaled up a loose talus scree slope, then an easy climb up the left side. Well, easy for someone other than me. As I began the climb I froze up... a simple lateral movement with good footings (though rotten rock) had more exposure than I could take. Irrational as it was, a slip would have resulted in a 20' fall and a 30' tumble... there would not have been a slip, but those of us susceptible to that kind of fear are sort of nailed with that emotional overflow. Still, I could not see retracing and downclimbing, so I moved down to where I would not have to move across, and just charged up the face, so much adrenalin flowing that I failed to notice that I climbed 25' higher than needed, and had to downclimb to get back to the level of the waterfall ledge...

    ... that couple of minutes left me drained and oddly altered for the rest of the day's venturing. My sense of exposure was way over the edge after that, and though I was doing a hike that had 5 miles of cliff edges, I found the day filled with me moving too many feet away from those edges, and getting nearly dizzy when I accidentally drifted near an edge as I was taking pics.

    I've had a history of acrophobia... no problems if I can be on a rope, or even jumping out of a plane, but at it's worse, I can get irrational on the easiest climbs if there is an open sense of exposure. Now, if all climbs were just in chimney structures...

    Think I may have found a few potential additional access routes for this Mesa... would be nice since the private property owners have closed off the traditional access routes. I'll be going back up (...sans waterfall route) to check those potentials out.
    RockaChuckey Wash
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    It has always been frustrating to not be able to simply head out my door and enjoy a nice bit of elevation gain into the foothills across the fields from my house... the closest access was over private land and was closed down a few years ago, so today I extended a fun little jeep track on up and over into an adjacent wash, and found that it did provide a through route, though off trail, up through the barrier of cliffs that buttress the Mesa... thus opening up a route to hike on up to the Highest frontal range peak. This also will provide access to the Mesa Loop trail... so, now I do have something right out my door. Really, I can walk out my door, across a field, and crossing one paved road, head off up dirt tracks that within two miles connect me with six trailheads, and if I want, on up the mountain to 9200'. But, adding on that extra four miles is not always appealing. This one is just .3 miles over to the TH... that I can do.

    Great exploratory day... steep and steady trekking, then interesting enough I got up close to the peak and could see snow enveloped Sierra Blanca off in the distance and briefly thought I should be Jhodlofing it over in that mound of snow...but then, I probably lack the equipment and skills... then 20 minutes later found myself postholing down from the peak, knee to butt deep in snow. The nice sunnyside of the hill cliffed out, and having to descend on the north slope in the shade... snow!

    Took the easy route back down off the mountain, catching up on all the local hunting news from the various motorcycle and ATV hunters out looking for sheep...

    a good day...

    Permit $$
    None


    Directions
    Map Drive
    or
    Road
    Paved - Car Okay

    To canyon trip
    Take south Scenic Drive to it's far south end (at the water tank) and park 1/8 mile back down the road at the dirt road access on the east side. The road takes off towards the mountains, and if you look up and across this flat desert scrub you will clearly see the jeep track taking off up the mountain. That is your route. You can follow the dirt track all the way over to the jeep trail, or simply cut cross country on a beeline. I would park out on the paved road, just for car security.
    page created by imike on Feb 14 2010 6:48 pm
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