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Big Jim Day Hike
Hells Canyon Wilderness
February 26, 2017
by Michelle Jelsma
  GPS Map 
group
Quy, Daniel, Lee, Debbie, Kenneth, Gabe, Mark, Sandy, Michelle, Tom, Janet [photo by Quy]

Knowing we had a long hike ahead, the group gets an early start at 7:30 on a cloudy morning. Our destination is the Big Jim, the flat top mountain lurking ahead of us.

Eleven hikers start out crossing Cottonwood Creek and will cross many more small washes and tributaries as we make our way to the Big Jim.

hikers
Trailblazers set out for the Big Jim. [photo by Quy]
stream
Crossing Cottonwood Creek. [photo by Quy]
hikers
We still have a long way to go. [photo by Quy]

After a short break to remove a layer of clothing we start out again towards the Big Jim. The sun is starting to peek out and the clouds shadow the mountains in the background.

shadow
Lake Pleasant in the distance behind us as the sun starts to come out. [Photo by Tom]

The group makes their way through many types of cacti and other desert foliage. After 2.5 miles we hit our first junction. We will continue on the Walkin’ Jim Trail to the Big Jim Trail.

We saw beautiful rock formations, many of the rocks covered in a green lichen.

cacti
Thriving Sonoran vegetation along the trail. [photo by Quy]
sign
Hmmm, which way do we go? [photo by Quy]
rocks
The rocks are covered in a green lichen [photo by Quy]

We cross the lush green desert heading north towards our destination. The desert floor is overgrown with grass from heavy rains in the area this winter. We are still in search of feral burros.

A short break is needed to catch our breath after our first big climb of the day. Notice that mountain continuing to lurk in the background.

grass
Recent rains have made the grass healthy. [photo by Quy]
break
Let’s stop for a break. [photo by Quy]
meadow
Big Jim keeps getting closer. [photo by Quy]

After about 4 miles we have come to the next junction, the Big Jim Trail. We take a short snack break here before starting our ascent up the Big Jim.

junction
Here’s the trail sign. [photo by Quy]
off
And off we go … [photo by Quy]
climb
Let the climb begin. [photo by Quy]
bushwack
Now let’s bushwhack. [photo by Quy]

The group does a short bushwhack up to a saddle where the views are amazing.

saddle
Tom, Debbie, Janet, Daniel, Gabe. [photo by Quy]
lake
Lake Pleasant. [photo by Quy]
group
A group picture at a flat spot as we ascend the mountain. [photo by Quy]
Sandy, Ken, Janet, Tom, Debbie, Mark, Lee, Gabe, Daniel, Michelle, Quy
group
Taking a well-deserved break. [photo by Tom]

We continue our climb up the mountain. The farther we go the harder the trail is to follow. As we round the backside of the mountain the layers of mountains to the north of us become vast and the views are incredible

climb
Higher and higher. [photo by Quy]
Mountains
Mountains to the north. [photo by Quy]
climb
I’ll take you up, up, up to the top. [photo by Quy]
climb
We can do this ... [photo by Quy]
climb
Up we go. [photo by Quy]
climb
Time to get our hands dirty. [photo by Quy]
climb
We are getting closer to the top. [photo by Quy]
climb
One more ascent to make it to the top. [photo by Quy]
lake
View of Lake Pleasant from the top with Mark in the foreground. [photo by Quy]
view
Another view of the mountains to the north. [photo by Quy]
top
On top of the mountain. [photo by Quy]
Tom, Quy, Sandy, Janet, Ken, Debbie, Lee, Mark

As we came down the mountain the poppies were opening up. We saw a vast array of wildflowers as the day went on

flowers
Wildflowers. [photos by Quy]

7 of the 11 hikers enjoyed lunch and drinks after the hike. Enjoying the conversation and camaraderie of the group after a challenging but awesome hike.

group
Wild Horse West. [photo by Quy]

GPS Stats: 11.6 miles, 7 hours 27 minutes, elevation gain +–2325 ft.

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Arizona Trailblazers Hiking Club, Phoenix, Arizona
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updated March 14, 2017