At the Fifteenmile Forest Camp on the northern edge of the 44-square mile Badger Creek Wilderness, I was greeted with nothing but blue skies. I was about to begin my most enjoyable outing in many months – – – alpine wildflowers, butterflies too numerous to count, varying hares, golden-mantled squirrels and spectacular views.
The Trail steeply followed Fret Creek into an upper basin, reaching Oval Lake in two miles. This is very pretty, small lake sitting underneath the cliffs forming the headwall between the Fifteenmile Creek Basin to the north and the Badger Creek Basin to the south.
Soon I met the Divide Trail and began heading west. After a steep ascent to the the top of the Divide, the views quickly began to open up. At 6,000 feet I was clearly in an alpine environment with meadows, wildflowers and short alpine trees (mainly hemlock, but also whitebark pine, alpine fir 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 360-degree views were simply stunning, beginning with the east side of Mt. Hood only nine crow-flying miles to the west. To the north was Mt. Adams, to the east were the large wheat farms of Central Oregon, to the south was Mt. Jefferson, and the entire Badger Creek Wilderness was at my feet.
Breaking out a snack, I was soon joined by several hungry golden-mantled squirels which were clearly used to getting handouts. And, I was mesmerized by the number and variety of beautiful butterflies flying around me.
These are the days I remember when it seems the rain will never stop during the winter months.
P.S. Let me take this opportunity to give my appreciation to Caitlin LaBar of the Xerces Society. Insects are notoriously difficult to identify correctly. Caitlin is always there to answer my questions about butterflies. Thanks Caitlin.