2018/9/23 – Big Jim Mountain / 大吉姆山

Love at first view
Love at first view

Photos from this trip can be found here.

Access: Hatchery Creek Trailhead
Gear: helmet
Round Trip: 16 miles
Elevation Range: 2,800′-7,763′

I first took notice of Big Jim Mountain six years ago from Frigid and Big Lou Mountains via Chatter Creek. The broad Lake Augusta Basin alone looked enticing enough to consider an overnight trip to make the 16 to 18-mile roundtrip mileage worthwhile. While weighing options east of the Cascade crest this morning, I decided to pay a day visit to the mountain instead.

The aftermath of the 2014 Chiwaukum Creek Fire was still evident as we hiked on the once-buried trail amid fireweed and burned trees. Trail switchbacked through steep slopes, gradually peeling itself away from Hatchery Creek onto the north-trending rib bordering east of The Badlands. Up until now we’ve enjoyed a dust-free hike through burned forest, thanks in part to the rain from the day before.

Taking the scenic route
Taking the scenic route

Photos from this trip can be found here.

Shortly after passing three hunters on their break at 5,100′, we got first look at today’s objective towering above head of Battle Canyon Creek Basin. At the 5,300′ junction I contemplated taking the north ridge route, but quickly forewent the idea of having to lose and regain elevation. Three more miles ahead, meanwhile passing two backpackers on their way down, we reached the Icicle Creek Trail junction at 6,700′ on Big Jim’s southeast ridge.

After a lunch break by the junction, we left the trail and headed northwest on the ridge toward Big Jim’s summit. For the next mile and a half, we traversed the ridge crest and climbed over four points leading up to the 7,600′ saddle below the summit. Other than carefully getting through moss-covered wet rocks, traverse was surprisingly very straightforward and scenic.

Last view of Lake Augusta
Last view of Lake Augusta

Photos from this trip can be found here.

The luscious basin to our left with Lake Augusta nestled within looked inviting, perhaps we’ll come back at some point and enjoy a night in the basin. In the east basin to our right, unexpected view of Big Jim Mountain Lakes sure were a real treat. The newly turned golden larches strewing the basins were undoubtedly the icing on the cake. Mostly sunny weather turned mostly cloudy as we neared the south saddle.

Lake Augusta quickly went out of sight as we hiked up the broad and gentle south slopes to finish the final walk-up. After hanging out on top for an hour, clouds over Icicle Ridge, The Enchantments, and north of Highway 2 gradually lowered, eventualy we were treated with views of peaks and valleys under the blanket of the afternoon temperature inversion. Sun was out again!

Southern panoramic view
Southern panoramic view

Photos from this trip can be found here.

Views or obscured views of several high points included Mount Stuart, Cashmere Mountain, Dragontail Peak, The Temple, Cape Horn, Grindstone Mountain, Ladies Peak, Snowgrass Mountain, Big Chiwaukum, Big Lou Mountain, Opportunity Mountain, and the tip of Glacier Peak.

We exited via the north ridge to make this a loop trip, but abandoned the craggy terrain in favor of the more viable east ridge that divided the two Big Jim Mountain Lakes. At 6,500′ we traversed north in the lower lake basin through talus and more larches to reach the east ridge of Point 6886. From there, we travelled northeastward to Point 6245 and got on Badlands Trail.

Big Jim Mountain Lakes
Big Jim Mountain Lakes

Photos from this trip can be found here.

The dusty, down tree-infested, and occasionally hard-to-find trail in higher elevations made me feel glad to not have chosen this as our ascent route. We got back to the trailhead before dark after five miles of noneventful hiking.

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