A cool morning with high clouds greeted early risers on our third day of exploration on the Columbia River. We entered the main channel late last night as we sailed west in the Snake River, crossing five dams on our journey. Morning operations began at 9:00 a.m., with guests shuttled via Zodiac to Crow Butte, an island park in the channel of the Columbia River. Over twenty guests set out for the summit trail that rises about four hundred feet above the river. Others walked a more moderate pace, led by naturalist Steve Backus, and learned about local flora and fauna. After the hikes, we were met by our hotel staff near the dock; they served us hot chocolate before our trip back to the ship.
The forward lounge was transformed into a shipboard bazaar, and guests went on a shopping spree shortly after lunch. In the afternoon we learned about the William and Clark expedition from our cultural specialist Patrick McQuirie. Many guests relaxed with reading, napping, snacking, and watching the beautiful landscape pass by.
Barge traffic delayed our entrance into the lock at the John Day Dam, and our turn came just before dinner time. With Mount Hood backlit and glowing in our view as we approached, National Geographic Sea Lion entered the lock and slowly descended one hundred feet to the river below. The experience was dramatic and well worth the wait!