From the National Geographic Sea Bird in the Pacific Northwest
Oct 14, 2012 - National Geographic Sea Bird
The day began and ended cloudy and cool, but midday was sunny and warm. Guests shed layers to accommodate higher temperatures. Nobody complained about the weather.
The National Geographic Sea Bird was anchored at Clarkston, Washington, the eastern-most port of our Columbia and Snake River voyage. Guests had the unenviable choice of heading on up the Snake River on jet boats, or embarking on a Lewis-and-Clark site tour of the Clearwater River. Most wished that somehow both trips could be accommodated, but the definition of freedom, and the bane, is the necessity of choice. No matter what one’s preferences, each group championed its own choice, and both were right.
Jet-boating into the Hell’s Canyon National Recreation Area is to almost leave civilization. There are no roads; even postal deliveries are by boat. But wildlife viewings compensate for the lack of McDonalds. Jet boaters saw Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep (almost a daily attraction hereabouts), mule deer, Great Blue Herons, and bald eagles. More than fifty miles up, the canyon dominates. But intrepid miners sought gold, dug tunnels, built smelters, and sunk steamships in olden times. Ancient Indian petroglyphs are even older. No jet-boaters regretted this environmental, geological, and historical exercise.
The “Clarkies” (Lewis and Clark fans) headed up the Clearwater River to visit the most concentrated collection of (almost unchanged) L & C sites anywhere in the country. Guided by the intrepid Lin Laughey, who knows more about the area than Google, we walked where the explorers walked, stood where they stood, and almost emulated their movements. Lee Hamilton, wilderness skills expert, prepared us for the arduous journey across the Bitterroot Mountains. All felt we were a part of early American history, and we appreciated it.
If there are better days on a Lindblad-National Geographic expedition, we don’t want to hear about it.