The Hood River News, Hood River, OR., May 21, 1943, page 5

By Arline Winchell Moore

     The official discovery of Lost Lake in August of 1880 has more or less obscured the fact that some few very early settlers had seen the Big Lake, as it was then called, much earlier than 1880. My father's step-father John Divers, frequently told of various experiences in the mountains and often spoke of being at Big Lake. Divers was a real woodsman, able to find his way at will over any part of this country in those early days. His father, Daves Diver, crossed the plains by ox team in 1856 and settled in Clackamas county near Oregon City, where the family lived until 1862.
     That year, John Divers and his father drove by way of the Barlow Road to The Dalles, and brought to their ox wagon into Hood River valley over the mountains by way of Mosier, where only an Indian trail existed, to be the first vehicle to enter this valley overland. During the ensuing years, John Divers traveled the mountains many, many times to and from his old home and earned for himself quite a reputation as a mountain guide. He always claimed that he knew where there was gold in rich deposits in these mountains and often exhibited rich samples of ore as proof.
     Only one time did he ever admit that he had lost his way. On that occasion he had his first glimpse of the Big Lake. The season was late and fogs always form in the high country in the fall season of the year. Someway he swung too far off his usual trail and became completely lost in the thick fog. It is assumed he must have been near Indian mountain, instead of on the east slope of Huckleberry when the fog lifted and he glimpsed the lake. Then he was lost! Like of true woodsman, he checked his direction by the sun and, keeping in a generally northerly direction, he came out to the Columbia river between the Cascades and Hood River, after a period of one of what he also always termed "the toughest trip" he ever had. Not until he sighted the river was the able to "locate" himself.
     Just recently, I came across some data written by Frank McFarland, describing a trip to Big Lake, and an attempted climb of Old Mount Hood in August of 1873. According to him, a party of seven men, including E.B. McFarland, uncle of Frank, a Rev. W.R. Butcher, John P. Booth and young Frank, all of The Dalles, and a man whose name is forgotten, a college professor of New Jersey, and also a Mr. McLane, from California, were on this trip.
     The party was well equipped for a trail trip, but not so well outfitted for a mountain climb. They camped the first night at Mosier, and came on to the Peter Neal place on Neal creek the following day. Here they hired John Divers to guide them to the lake and thru the mountains to the Barlow road. Peter Neal Jr. also joined the party at this point. Divers took them over the old Indian trail through the valley, past the present Odell townsite to the forks of the river, where the Lake branch comes in. From there they followed the Lake branch up to its source at the lake itself. They made the trip in good time, although the weather had turned wet. Divers showed them how to strip the bark from trees and build protection against the rain. While the others made camp, young Frank fished down the outlet about a quarter of a mile and caught sufficient fish to provide all the party could eat at two meals.
     This party camped at Lost lake two days and three nights, leaving very early on the morning of the third day. Divers took them along the east shore of the lake and through the mountains at approximately the present Lolo Pass trail. In crossing the headwaters of the Sandy river, the horse ridden by Frank McFarland stumbled and dumped him into the cold mountain stream. Other members of the party enjoyed the bath more than did young Frank.
     As soon as the party reached the Barlow road, John Divers and Peter Neal Jr. turned back, but the rest of the party went on to camp at The Meadows. After making camp, they left Mr. Booth in charge, as he had found so much mountaineering a little too strenuous for a man of his age. Moving on they came to the snowline just about sunset. Of this marvelous view of that sunset Frank McFarland wrote: "I have never seen anything to compare with that sunset. It was beyond the powers of description and well worth that trip; it was a vision that I can never forget."
     After a rather uncomfortable night the party arose at 1 a.m. to attempt the ascent of Mount Hood. Poorly equipped for such an undertaking, one by one, after some narrow escapes from death or injury, members of the party dropped out of the climb. At approximately 300 feet from the summit, the remaining four, E.B. McFarland, W.R. Butcher, Mr. McLane and the New Jersey professor, turned back. One of those sudden storms that we know so well today hit the mountain and the party judged it the better part of wisdom to turn back and pick up their distressed comrades.
     The next morning the party proceeded towards home by way of the Barlow road, Tygh Valley, Dufur and Ten-Mile Creek. The entire trip had taken seventeen days, and every member of the group voted it to be one of the most enjoyable he had ever had.

©  Jeffrey L. Elmer