On a frosty morning, National Geographic Sea Bird anchored at the mouth of the Palouse River in the Snake River Basin. The morning greeted us with a mist painted across the Palouse River landscape like a 16th century Renaissance painting.

Guests were shuttled to shore on Zodiacs where they traveled upriver to Palouse Falls. The falls drop over 200 feet and flow at over 1000 cubic feet per second. They provide an impressive demonstration of how the massive Missoula Floods, a series of Ice Age floods, carved out dramatic basalt features in the Palouse scablands over 15,000 years ago.

At the falls, guests were fortunate to see yellow-bellied marmots, also known as rock chucks, enjoying themselves in the early morning sun. The chubby friends clearly enjoyed the devoted attention of Lindblad guests.

After the falls, guests returned to Lyon’s Ferry State Park where they divided into groups. Some guests went on a nature hike around the park, and others kayaked in the bay. The area was teeming with violet-green swallows, an elegant blue heron, and a pair of breeding bald eagles, including a juvenile eagle. Guests in kayaks paddled up to the eagles’ nesting grounds.

After lunch, National Geographic Sea Bird pulled anchor and proceeded downstream while guests listened to a lecture on “The Geography of the Columbia Basin,” by National Geographic speaker, Stephen Cunha. After this, the ship transited Lower Monumental Dam and Locks, the third dam of four encountered on the Snake River.

After emerging from Lower Monumental Locks, guests enjoyed a presentation by river expert, Patrick MacQuarrie, on “Modernizing the Columbia River Treaty.” This sparked a lively discussion on balancing competing uses of water among Canadian, American, and Native American stakeholders in the Columbia River.

Following Patrick’s talk, National Geographic Sea Bird transited through the Ice Harbor Snake River Dam and Lock, the last on the Snake River. The evening was capped by a participatory workshop on “iPhone Photography” by photo instructor, David Katz.

Photographers: Patrick MacQuarrie, River Expert, Linda Burback, Naturalist, David Katz, Photo Instructor