The first full day was an exciting one as we boarded jet boats from the dock in Clarkston, Washington. We would be transiting south on the Snake River aboard two specially designed boats that are perfectly suited for the difficult navigation of the river. The Snake River has hundreds of rapids and shallow areas that require a special kind of vessel. Considered the “jet boat capital of the world,” Lewiston and Clarkston is home to a huge fleet of these specialty aquatic vehicles. Our jet boat operators deftly navigated the river and brought us deep into the Snake River to view all the sights it has to offer. Bighorn sheep, mule deer, and a wide range of birdlife greeted us along the way. Golden eagles soared high above. Bald eagles perched on trees, and we saw a variety of other birds of prey along the way. Columnar basalt and other incredible geological features greeted us at every twist and turn, highlighting the incredible formation of the river and her breathtaking banks. After returning, National Geographic Quest left the dock to begin our journey along the Snake River en route to the Columbia and on our way to the coast.
National Geographic Sea Bird
Columbia River Gorge, Oregon
In the morning, passengers aboard National Geographic Sea Bird visited the beautiful Multnomah Falls and the Bonneville Fish Hatchery. The falls, located on the Oregon side of the Columbia River Gorge, provided a stunning backdrop for the excursion. Guests were thrilled to see the waterfall in person. It is considered one of the most beautiful and popular natural attractions in the region. The falls were particularly breathtaking due to recent rainfall in the area, which created a misty, ethereal atmosphere around the waterfall. Perhaps the most unbelievable part of the morning was the weather; many of us wore shorts as we admired the snowcapped peaks beneath warm, bluebird skies. After the falls, we navigated downhill toward the Bonneville Fish Hatchery. Named for the adventurous Benjamin Bonneville, the hatchery’s most famous inhabitant is a guy of adventure himself. Herman the Sturgeon is over 80 years old, and he has survived the construction of a dam, pollution, a kidnapping attempt, a stabbing, and even an explosion. Despite his age and hardships, Herman remains a beloved icon of the region, and efforts continue to protect and conserve his species. After a delicious lunch, we hiked the Mosier tunnels, where guests were excited to go birdwatching and learn about the rich history of the tunnels. Much like Herman the Sturgeon, those trapped in the tunnels during the blizzard of 1921 endured great hardships, but they, too, have become regional symbols. Soon after, the ship cruised toward Portland for disembarkation. As we made our way along the river, passengers were treated to stunning views of the surrounding landscape, including the iconic Portland skyline. Naturalists Jesse Humbert and Larry Prussin provided commentary on the history and culture of the region, pointing out landmarks and answering questions from the passengers. As the ship drew closer to Portland and our expedition draws closer to its finale, the memories made on this final day are sure to stick with us for years to come.