The enjoyment of hiking in the 44-square mile Badger Creek Wilderness continues to draw me back to the area.
Earlier this year I had hiked past Kenzel Mine to the Divide Trail and, bordering the Wilderness, I had done the dramatic Fifteenmile Creek Loop.
Today, I steeply ascended Fret Creek into an upper basin, reaching pretty Oval Lake in two miles. Then, 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.
By 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.
The views of the east side of Mt. Hood, only nine crow-flying miles to the west, were amazing. With the entire Badger Creek Wilderness at my feet, I took a break while being entertained by a golden-mantled ground squirrel.