From the National Geographic Sea Lion in the Pacific Northwest
Sep 24, 2012 - National Geographic Sea Lion
Hood River/Columbia River Gorge
This morning we docked at Hood River and headed directly to the Hood River Winery, surrounded by vineyards and pear orchards, for a delicious brunch. We all agreed that our next stop, the Gorge White House, was close enough to meander through the fruit groves, offering an opportunity to enjoy the magnificent scenery first hand. It was a glorious morning with perfect temperatures, providing ideal conditions for photography of trees laden with Bosc and Anjou pears. Surrounded by colorful dahlias, sunflowers and zinnias, we sampled locally produced pear wine and took in the grandeur of the landscape of the Hood River Valley.
Next, our luxury motor-coaches transferred us to Multnomah Falls. The south side of the Columbia River Gorge has the greatest concentration of high waterfalls in the United States with a total of 75 waterfalls of note, 11 of which are over 100 feet tall. At 620 feet, including the upper and lower segments, Multnomah Falls is the tallest waterfall in the Columbia River Gorge.
We returned to the ship for lunch and discovered that in the parking lot of Cascade Locks, where the National Geographic Sea Lion was docked, some local fishermen were collecting their rewards for catching non-native pikeminnows, part of the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Sport Reward Program. Because the northern pikeminnow eat millions of salmon and steelhead juveniles each year in the Columbia and Snake Rivers, the goal of this local program is to reduce the average size and curtail the number of larger, older fish.
We passed through our final lock at Bonneville, which, as the dam opened, revealed Beacon Rock as our passage to the western Columbia River. The remainder of the day was quite leisurely, with presentations in the lounge by our historian and naturalist. The weather was lovely. Some of us gathered on the aft 100 deck to watch the stunning geologic formations. Many of these remain largely untouched since the time of the Lewis and Clark expedition. They presented themselves in amazing relief by virtue of the setting sun.