From the National Geographic Sea Lion in the Pacific Northwest
Oct 1, 2012 - National Geographic Sea Lion
Clarkston, Washington, Snake River, Hell's Canyon
The scenery along the Snake River is very different from the mouth of the Columbia River where we started our journey only a few days ago. We left the conifer trees and the lush green coastal vegetation to explore a desert environment where sage brush and golden dry grass dominate the landscape. Beautifully carved basalt walls stand tall against the golden tapestry of the environment.
The National Geographic Sea Lion docked in Clarkston, Washington early this morning, and a beautiful sunrise was the background to our morning stretch class.
After breakfast, everyone boarded two large jet boats, eager to explore the depth of Hell's Canyon, cruising south on the free flowing part of the Snake River. We all got to admire Nature's talent in sculpting a piece of art out of basalt. The intricacy of the columns was simply amazing.
As we were cruising along the Snake River we all noticed the golden hills turning black. The vegetation had burned down a few weeks ago due to a wildfire started by lightning on the Washington and Oregon side. We knew at this point that we would have more chance spotting wildlife on the Idaho side of the river. And soon enough we were rewarded with many sightings of big-horned sheep grazing close to the water's edge. One group was running down the steep slope to quench their thirst. We also got to see quite a few wild turkey and mule deer.
We stopped at Heller Bar on the way back for lunch overlooking the river and we also got to spot some petroglyphs on the side of the cliff as we were heading back to Clarkston.
After a quick break onboard, many guests headed to the Nez Perce Interpretive Center in Spalding, Idaho, to learn about the culture and history of the native tribe.
Back on board, we were treated to a wonderful farewell dinner, offering an array of locally produced food and regional wines, and ….some yummy chocolate cakes to celebrate two of our guest's birthdays.