Sep 12, 2018 - National Geographic Sea Lion
National Geographic Sea lion sailed slowly this morning up Columbia Gorge and we caught a dim but unmistakable view of Multnomah Falls on the starboard side of the ship. This beautiful cascade is the tallest and undeniably the most prominent of the many waterfalls along the Oregon side of the Columbia. It falls in two steps, a total of 659 feet into the inner gorge.
Beacon Rock was our next distinctive landmark rising dramatically off the port side. The top, hidden in clouds rises to a height of 840 feet. The feature is a preserved neck or plug of an ancient cinder cone volcano. The structure was a distinct landmark for the Lewis and Clark expedition where they noted the effect of tides near this location. This observation was the first indicator of how close they were to completing their epic journey to the Pacific Ocean. The feature also provides strong evidence of the erosive effects of the Pleistocene Missoula floods that swept repeatedly though the gorge at the end of the last ice age. A thin veneer of extrusive scoria and “soil” at the top of the peak indicates that the flood water maximum must have just missed overtopping this feature! Over 800 feet of water above the current river level. Quite a flood indeed!
Perhaps the highlight of the morning was our transit through the Bonneville Lock. Our first transit, we toasted the experience with hot cocoa and schnapps or baileys and enjoyed a detailed commentary by our naturalist and photo instructor, Rich Kirchner on the mechanics of the lock system.
Guests spent their morning and afternoon exploring scenic landmarks or culturally significant sites in and around Bonneville reservoir and the town of Hood River. These included the Bonneville Dam and Fish Hatchery, the Western Antiques, Air and Automobile Museum (WAAM) and/or hiked along the ridge above the river to and through the Mosier Tunnels.
After a brief tour of a local brewery or a stroll around the town of Hood River, we returned to National Geographic Sea lion to hear an informative and entertaining lecture by our guest Dr. David Kennedy concerning the history and future of the American west.
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