Lindblad Expeditions - From the National Geographic Sea Bird in the Pacific Northwest - Lee Fleischer, expedition leader

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From the National Geographic Sea Bird in the Pacific Northwest

Oct 13, 2012 - National Geographic Sea Bird

Monumental Rock, Snake River, Washington

Palouse River

It was a monumental day. Sailing upstream, National Geographic Sea Bird was on the Snake River steaming past Ship Rock (nee modern day Monumental Rock).

We knew from reading the journals of the captains that Lewis & Clark and the Corps of Discovery had passed this way in the fall of 1805 on their way to the Pacific Ocean. We had seen the waves breaking across the mouth of the great river at the Columbia River Bar just days ago.

But today was really special. The beauty of the basalt cliffs stood like solitary sentinels. We got the green light from the lockmaster at the Lower Monumental Dam’s lock to use our fleet of Zodiacs to lock up to the lake above as we made our way eastward. What a thrill! We lunched at a great upper deck picnic of salads, rice casserole, chicken, steak, watermelon, and mud-slide cookies. But we knew we were in for the real treat yet to come.

At approximately 1300 hours, National Geographic Sea Bird entered the Palouse River. Lewis & Clark had passed right by this spot on October 13, 1805. Exactly 207 years ago—to the day! Although the river was lower then, because of the lack of a hydroelectric dam called Lower Monumental, we got a sense of the scene that they saw.

Once anchored, guests departed to view the Palouse Falls that was created by the cataclysmic glacial floods at the end of the last Ice Age. Others went on Zodiac cruises to explore the lower Palouse, its habitats and its wildlife. Those so inclined did the same by kayak.

The day was splendid!

Not a sign, nor a plaque, nor a monument exists at Lyons Ferry (where the modern day Snake and Palouse Rivers meet in confluence) to commemorate that Lewis & Clark were here on October 13, 1805. But today we bore witness to that fact; paused and enjoyed; and then moved on into the night to continue our explorations.