Travelling up the Columbia River is a story of changes. Over broad swaths of time, the building of the continent, the laying down of the basalt rocks, the uplift of mountains, and the scouring of the landscape by sweeping floods, all set the stage for the landscape we see. The vegetation and the associated fauna have dramatically changed from the wet and mild coastal climate to a rain shadowed dry oak forest and grasslands. The human imprint of different people, their movements, their industry and trade, their imagination, are strong here. We are in Hood River with a full day of excursions before returning to the upriver journey of National Geographic Sea Lion.
National Geographic Sea Lion
Meandering up the Snake River opened a new chapter to our voyage. Golden grasslands interrupted by towering basalt columns filled the horizon. As daybreak crested, the peaks before us were illuminated in a soft golden hue. The landscape drew us in and beckoned us to explore. After a short and scenic bus ride, we arrived at Palouse Falls State Park. While the impressive 198 ft waterfall was clearly the main attraction, walks in the area provided stunning views of the channeled scablands that we’re traveling through. It was incredible to imagine the events that sculpted the land before us. The raw power of the Earth was on full display. For the afternoon, we set out in expedition landing craft and shot up the Palouse River. The rich riparian banks held an abundance of wildlife. Songbirds flitted about while waterfowl gave way. Raptors circled overhead, looking for their next meal. Above a set of steep cliffs, two golden eagles circled, icons of this open land. Perhaps the most exciting moment was when a coyote ran up the slopes right in front of us, posing to take in the odd creatures visiting its home. The river and its tributaries continue to offer a vast variety of experiences to us. As the final day of our voyage approaches, we settle into the night in awe of what we have seen thus far.