Big Jim Mountain by Lake Augusta / 靠奧古斯塔湖的大吉姆山

I first saw Big Jim Mountain six years ago when the pups and I climbed Frigid Mountain and Big Lou Mountain. Back then, the broad Lake Augusta Basin alone looked tempting enough to consider an overnight trip. So it would make the 16 to 18-mile roundtrip worthwhile.

Love at first view
Love at first view

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Big Jim Mountain at a Glance

Access: Hatchery Creek Trailhead
Round Trip: 16 miles
Elevation Range: 2800′-7763′
Gear: helmet
GPS Track: available
Dog-Friendly: on the trail

Hatchery Creek Trail

I looked at several climbing options east of the Cascades this morning. So after tossing around some ideas, I settled on Big Jim Mountain. The road to the trailhead was a bit rough. But it was doable in a low-clearance vehicle. We strolled through fireweed and burned trees and felt the aftermath of the 2014 Chiwaukum Creek Fire.

The trail first zigzagged up through steep slopes. Then it slowly peeled itself away from Hatchery Creek. Eventually, the path went onto the north-trending rib to the east of The Badlands. Up until now, we have enjoyed a dust-free hike through the burned forest. Thanks, in part, to the rain from the day before.

Big Jim Mountain via the scenic route
Big Jim Mountain via the scenic route

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Onward to Southeast Ridge

We walked past three hunters on their break. Then at 5100′, we got our first peek at today’s goal. The grand Big Jim Mountain towered above the head of Battle Canyon Creek Basin. At the 5300′ junction, I considered going up the north ridge route. But the idea of losing and regaining elevation didn’t seem like fun. So I scrapped the idea.

In another three miles, we reached the Icicle Creek Trail at 6700′. But not before a brief chat with two overnight backpackers. They were making their way down the mountain. Then from the junction, we turned onto Big Jim Mountain’s southeast ridge.

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Big Jim Mountain Southeast Ridge

We ate lunch by the junction. Afterward, we left the trail and traveled on the northwest ridge for the next 1.5 miles. The lush basin to our left with Lake Augusta still looked inviting. Perhaps we will come back and enjoy a night there. Then in the east bowl, the surprising view of Big Jim Mountain Lakes was a real treat.

The newly turned golden larches strewing the drainages were the icing on the cake. But soon, the mostly sunny weather became cloudy. En route, we carefully moved through the slick, moss-covered rocks. So glad that this way was straightforward and open. So after going over four high points, we arrived at the 7600′ saddle below the top.

Last view of Lake Augusta
Last view of Lake Augusta

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Big Jim Mountain Summit Plus Views

Lake Augusta slowly went out of sight as we went up the broad and gentle south slopes. Then we arrived at the summit shortly after. Then within the next hour, clouds slowly lowered over Icicle Ridge, Enchantments, and to the north of Highway 2. So we had views of the afternoon temperature inversion. The sun was out again!

Our views included Mount Stuart, Cashmere Mountain, Dragontail Peak, The Temple, Cape Horn, Grindstone Mountain, and Ladies Peak. Plus Snowgrass Mountain, Big Chiwaukum, Big Lou Mountain, Opportunity Mountain, and the tip of Glacier Peak.

Southern panoramic view
Southern panoramic view

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Outro

We exited via the north ridge to make this a loop trip. But then we left the rugged terrain in favor of the more viable east ridge. It divided the two Big Jim Mountain Lakes. At 6500′, we traveled north in the lower lake basin through talus and more larches. Shortly, we arrived at the east ridge of Point 6886. From there, we moved northeast to Point 6245 and got on Badlands Trail.

Higher up, the dusty and down tree-infested trail was sometimes hard to follow. So I was glad not to have approached this way. Then after five miles of the unexciting hike, we got back to the trailhead right after dark.

Big Jim Mountain Lakes
Big Jim Mountain Lakes

See more trip photos here.

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