Early morning sunshine on Mt. Hood lifted my spirits as I drove to the Fifteenmile Forest Camp on the northern edge of the 44-square mile Badger Creek Wilderness.
The Trail steeply followed Fret Creek into an upper basin, reaching Oval Lake in two miles. After arriving at the Divide Trail it was another steep ascent to the headwall separating the Fifteenmile Creek Basin to the north and the Badger Creek Basin to the south.
The top of the Divide quickly began providing views, but clouds had moved in. At 6,000 feet I was clearly in an alpine environment with open meadows, late-blooming wildflowers and short alpine trees (mainly hemlock, but also whitebark pine, alpine firs and a few alpine spruce.)
Another pleasant mile and I was on top of 6,525-foot Lookout Mountain, the highest peak remaining of the old cascade mountains, all much older than Mt. Hood.
On a clear day, this is the best location for viewing the east side of Mt. Hood, only nine crow-flying miles to the west. But, because of the cloud cover, Mt. Hood was hidden from view. The rest of the scenery made up for it with Badger Lake to the south and the entire Badger Creek Wilderness at my feet.