It’s hard to imagine that a mere few days ago, we were at the spot where the temperate rainforest meets the Pacific Ocean. A voyage upstream contains rapid changes in ecology, climate, and history. After a gentle night at anchor, we awoke to the sun’s rays sneaking through the clouds and hilltops.

We spent the morning at beautiful Crow Butte Park. This small island, connected to the mainland before the damming of the Columbia River, offered us a chance to stretch our legs and explore the sagebrush steppe biome. Iconic plants such as balsamroot and sagebrush cover the ground, none climbing to more than a few feet in height. By trail, we obtained commanding views as we took in the vast, open area of the region.

Cruising upriver for the afternoon, the beauty of the landscape rolled by. Jetting up locks at the McNary Dam brought us closer to Wallula Gap, an anticipated highlight in the region. Imagining the Ice Age floods screaming downstream from Lake Lewis at fifty miles per hour is humbling and illustrative of how the channeled scablands were formed. From here, we depart the mighty Columbia and turn towards the next part of our voyage: the Snake River.

With increasingly pleasant weather day by day and anticipation in every breath, we settle in for the night to see what tomorrow brings.