We’re here on the western edge of the Northern Rocky Mountains, and spring has arrived in the rivers and canyons that drain the high country. In general, our weeklong journey follows the flow of the water westward, toward the ocean. However, this morning we started our adventure by travelling upstream. We moved up the Snake River, southward and deep into Hells Canyon. Our comfortable home, National Geographic Sea Bird, was tied up in the Port of Clarkston. We used contract jet boats for the trip today. These boats use powerful motors to drive water through a turbine pump, allowing the boats to fly against the current in only a few inches of water. The Clarkston/Lewiston area is a center for jet boat manufacturing and activity in the U.S.
National Geographic Sea Bird
Our morning began alongside the dock in our final port of Clarkston, Washington with a glowing sky and flocks of migrating waterfowl inscribing Vs through the air. After breakfast, guests boarded 34-foot-long jet boats for an excursion along the Snake River to its confluence with the Salmon River, fondly known as the River of No Return. Along our journey we saw bighorn sheep, great blue herons, common mergansers, belted kingfishers, Canada geese, petroglyphs, wild turkeys, columnar basalt, swimming mule deer, and a bald eagle flying with a large salmon. We also enjoyed fortuitous timing and witnessed a fisherman hook an eight-foot-long sturgeon. After a long battle, he finally pulled it to the shallows for his whole family (and us) to see. As evening approached, we settled into the lounge for our final series of educational talks, featuring Nez Perce storyteller James Spencer and winemaker Coco Umiker, both of whom illuminated important contexts of the beautiful basin. Following our wine tasting with Coco, guests set off for their final on-board dinner. After dinner, we bid farewell through photos. Our photo instructor showcased a mosaic of moments from the week, otherwise known as the Guest Slideshow. Included in the slideshow were praying mantises, birds of prey, sunsets, and staff members being goofy, as per usual. We couldn’t be more grateful for our time together, all of us, during this last week of October 2022.