On a cold October morning, National Geographic Sea Bird sailed downstream on the Snake River, entering the Columbia River confluence at dawn. Passing the Tri-Cities as fog lingered only a few feet above water, we navigated the same route as Lewis and Clark did in 1805, yet on a vastly changed river.

The ship anchored off Crow Butte, where guests were shuttled to shore for hiking across the sagebrush-step landscape with sweeping views of the Columbia River and National Geographic Sea Bird. Guests spotted northern harrier and red-tailed hawks among the desert landscape populated with big sagebrush and rabbitbrush. We observed evidence of mule deer, fox, and field mice along the trail. Following our morning hikes, the group was given a Food-Water-Energy Nexus talk in the park by river historian and naturalist, Patrick MacQuarrie, before returning to the ship for lunch.

After lunch, National Geographic Sea Bird pulled anchor to cruise downriver while staff entertained guests with talks on “Geology of the Columbia Basin” and “Raptor Identification” by naturalist Jesse Humbert and naturalist Zoey Greenberg, respectively. After recap and dinner, the day was topped off with a photo composition presentation by photo instructor, Aaron Raymond.