Hood River, Columbia River Gorge

Sep 27, 2018 - National Geographic Quest


We woke up to a remarkable transition today – trees! There were abundant, tall leafy trees! Big leaf maple, douglas fir, and western redcedar! What a change that had happened overnight. We had clearly arrived in the Hood River area located in a zone of transition between dry shrub-steppe desert in the east and wet temperate rainforest in the west. Excited for the day, we gathered early and began our adventurous day at 8:30 am. Today, we disembarked in the quaint town of Stevenson, Washington located on the Columbia River. From there, we praised the wonderfully sunny day as we travelled to several spots following the Columbia River, then turned away from the river and ventured further into the Hood River Valley. Some took a step back in time by visiting the Western Antique Aeroplane & Automobile museum. Others enjoyed a quiet nature walk to the Mosier Tunnels. Our morning trip was complete with fresh fruit, apple cider and flowers at the Draper Girls orchard.

We all enjoyed several activities, but the tastiest stop of the morning was at Draper Girls Country Farm, a third-generation family-owned and operated farm established in 1962 and located at the base of Mt. Hood. We wandered without destination through fields of flowers, getting lost in the aroma of warm fruit and sweet pink and yellow petals. There we sampled several varieties of freshly picked sweet apples, pears and plums, then drank hand-pressed apple cider and pear cider made by the family farm.

The Hood River Valley is one of the most abundant fruit producing valleys in the world and is well known in the region for its production of pears and large red cherries. The fertile volcanic soil is one of the key factors to making this an exceptional area for growing crispy, delicious apples.

In the afternoon, our ship headed into the final set of locks for this expedition, The Bonneville Dam. With the sun beating down over our heads, many gathered on the bow of the ship to watch as we dropped another 80 feet down the Columbia River. We watched double-crested cormorants pick salmon out of the river in the distance and looked for eagles and other wildlife along the shoreline. We have traveled so far on this trip and seen such a variety of things; it has truly been a journey that will not soon be forgotten.

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About the Author

Christine West

Naturalist

Christine is a naturalist who was fortunate to grow up in the Pacific Northwest on the shores of the Puget Sound. After obtaining her B.A. from the University of Washington, she decided to pursue her love of the ocean and exploration by beginning a career working on expedition boats worldwide. Christine is now a USCG-certified 100 ton captain and has traveled internationally full-time as an expedition guide, educator, writer, PADI scuba diving instructor, and certified international tour director for over a decade. 

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