Columbia Gorge and Hood River, Oregon

Oct 13, 2018 - National Geographic Quest

The first light of dawn found us sailing upstream on the Great River of the West, the Columbia, and into the heart of the Columbia Gorge. The stars of Orion the Mighty Hunter were dimming in the south and soon Beacon Rock loomed ahead in the distance.  This passage from interior Washington to the Pacific Ocean was carved by the Columbia River. The Columbia, an antecedent river, was here before the Cascade Range rose and the river maintained its course to the sea by cutting downward as fast as the mountains rose, forming the Columbia Gorge. The growing light revealed high cliffs of layered lava; these are stacked flows of the Columbia River Basalt Province, in which we will be sailing for most of our journey on the rivers. At the Bonneville Dam, we passed through our first of eight locks on this journey and proceeded on to Hood River for our day’s excursions. Excursions included enjoying a magnificent view of Mount Hood while sampling fruit at the Draper Girls Farm, hiking the Historic Columbia River Highway to the Mosier Tunnels, and visiting the amazing Western Antique Aeroplane & Automobile Museum (WAAM); you have to see it to believe it.

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About the Author

Grace Winer


Geologist and naturalist Grace grew up among woods, rivers, and mountains, loving the outdoors, nature and rocks. After high school she became a Registered Nurse and was soon studying midwifery at Queen Charlotte’s Maternity Hospital in London, England. Back in the United States she served as an officer in the USAF Nurse Corps during the Vietnam War. In a major career change, Grace turned to the Earth Sciences and received degrees in geology (BS and MSc) from Montana State University. Funded by a grant from the National Geographic Society, Grace pursued her master’s degree in Alaska’s remote Pribilof Islands. In her study of basaltic volcanism in the Bering Sea region, she investigated the volcanic evolution of St. Paul Island, creating a geologic map, and predicting volcanic hazards in the event of a future eruption. Her knowledge of the Pribilof Islands and the Bering Sea region led to her work as a consulting geologist on St. George Island for NOAA’s Pribilof Restoration Project.

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