This morning the wind and rain at the western end of the Columbia River Gorge did not deter our ensemble from gathering on the bow in bright and waterproof colors to witness our eighth and final lock and dam – the mighty Bonneville Dam, completed in 1938. We then passed by Beacon Rock on the Washington shore, followed by the iconic Multnomah Falls on the Oregon side. After lunch the weather turned sunny and guests gathered on the aft 100 level to enjoy hot apple cider with additional libations of their choice. Mount St. Helens made a brief surprise appearance, peaking above the clouds as we narrowed the distance to the mouth of the Columbia.
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.