Badger Lake

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Location: The Dalles, OR

Badger Lake

Post by drm » April 18th, 2021, 7:06 pm

I often try to time my backpacks up Badger Creek to Badger Lake between when that trail melts out but before the road melts out, so before car campers arrive. But that's usually a pretty small window to hit, like a week or two.

So this year I decided not to wait. Time for another snow adventure. In this case it meant packing snow shoes on my backpack for 8 miles before putting them on. I went in Friday afternoon for 3.5 miles, so that 8 was split up. Snow started long before 8 miles, but it was patchy for a long ways. And as usual for Badger Creek, lots of trees down too.

But no way I could have done this without snowshoes. The snow was soft and up high, the last couple miles before the lake, there was 4-6 feet of snow pretty continuously. Strangely, the trail was still an identifiable droop in the snow despite many feet of snow. I didn't really lose the trail for good till less than a mile from the lake, at which point it didn't matter, because the snow was deep enough to cover the ocean of downed logs that are Badger Creek canyon.

The lake was completely frozen still and the only melted areas to camp were the one spot on the right when you arrive, and the earthen dam. Does anybody know if there was a smaller natural lake before the dam went in? Anyway, I arrived at the lake at 1:30pm on Saturday and had the afternoon to relax in the sun and shade. Then the sun went down and I was camped in a refrigerator between two very large ice trays. At least there was no wind.

And the sun was on me fairly early on Sunday to break the mid-30s dawn temperature. I kept the snowshoes on an extra mile going down - the snow was much softer. You alternative between dry trail and three foot high snowdrifts for a mile or so. I saw very few people, even low down.
First real snow patch, around 3000 feet
Don't fall! The bridge nearly nine miles in.
Then just after, this one has no snow
Farther up, the snow gets more consistent
Badger Lake hidden down there
Hard to see, but this is the outlet dam. You would need ice climbing gear to get up the six foot snow wall on the other side
The extent of open water on Badger Lake
Home for one night

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Re: Badger Lake

Post by bobcat » April 19th, 2021, 7:29 am

Good early report on the Badger Creek Trail!
drm wrote:
April 18th, 2021, 7:06 pm
Does anybody know if there was a smaller natural lake before the dam went in?
Yes, there was, maybe half the current surface area. It's an old glacial cirque. The dams to raise the lake level for the irrigation ditch were put there in the 1950s.

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