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Marble Canyon - North - North Spur
8 Photosets

mini location map2013-12-14
18 by photographer avatarimike
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Ridge Canyon (N3)Southeast, NM
Southeast, NM
Canyoneering avatar Dec 14 2013
Canyoneering12.90 Miles 2,600 AEG
Canyoneering12.90 Miles   9 Hrs   30 Mns   1.84 mph
2,600 ft AEG   2 Hrs   30 Mns Break
Canyon Hiking - Non-technical; no rope; easy scrambling; occasional hand use
A - Dry or little water; shallow or avoidable water; no wet/dry suit
 no routes
1st trip
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!
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