Daily Expedition Reports

Daily reports from our days in the field


  • Fort Clatsop, Astoria, and Cape Disappointment

    Our final day of exploration along the Lewis and Clark trail! Today we explored three sites: Fort Clatsop - the Corps of Discovery’s winter camp of 1805-06, the Columbia River Maritime Museum, and Cape Disappointment where Lewis and Clark finally dipped their toes in the waters of the Pacific Ocean.

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  • Hood River, Oregon

    Our day began with light fog and cool temperatures. The sun soon warmed us all and exposed amazing views of Mt. Hood, lasting until sunset when a pink glow bathed the volcano. It was a day saturated with the history, flavors, and the colors of autumn in the Columbia River Gorge. 

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  • Astoria, Oregon

    The sky was full of stars just before dawn as the National Geographic Sea Lion approached the deepwater port of Astoria. The constellations of Orion, the Mighty Hunter; Taurus, The Bull; and the Pleiades stood high in the south as bright Venus rose over Tongue Point. We were soon docking at a working dock near a huge pile of logs that were being loaded onto an ocean-going ship.

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  • The Dalles, Columbia River

    This morning we are greeted by clear skies and a perfect view of Mt. Hood bathed in alpenglow. The rest of the day has been clear with calm winds, the perfect reminder of why autumn is so lovely.

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  • Hood River, Oregon and Columbia River Gorge

    As the sky grew lighter this morning, we were treated to a view of the sunny peak of Mount Hood just peeking over the hills to the south of the National Geographic Sea Lion at our dock in the town of Hood River.  The river, originally named by Lewis and Clark for Expedition member Francois Labiche, waters the forests and fruit farms on the slopes of the mountain.  Lt. William Broughton of the (British) Vancouver Expedition named the mountain in October 1792.  We traveled by coach to one of two destinations, either the Western Antique Aeroplane and Automobile Museum or the Mosier Tunnels.  WAAAM contains hundreds of antique cars, trucks, and other motorized vehicles (all in driveable condition) and dozens of antique airplanes (all in flyable condition).  We wandered over the more than three acres of displays.  Other guests walked along a portion of the Historic Columbia River Highway to the Mosier Tunnels, carved through the mountainside so vehicles could travel through the beauty of the Columbia River Gorge.  Some of us biked through the tunnels and back to town while others hiked back.  The big leaf maples were at the peak of their color.  Later in the morning, we had the opportunity to visit the Double Mountain Brewery to taste their brews.

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  • Palouse Falls State Park, Palouse River, and the Snake River

    The sun rose and cleared the stormy skies that had been blowing 40 knots. By mid-morning, we had blue skies, perfect light for photography, and smooth sailing in the Palouse and Snake River.

  • The Dalles

    We started early this morning on the National Geographic Sea Lion. As there was a full day ahead of us, the extra fifteen minutes this morning would help us to accomplish all the activities on the schedule. After the usual morning exercise with the wellness specialist, we disembarked for Rowena Point. At this is a beautiful overlook just off the old Columbia Highway, the first paved highway in the country, we were afforded incredible views of the Gorge, brilliant fall colors and a brisk breeze to jump start our morning. From the overlook, we traveled to the Columbia Gorge Discovery Center where we first had the opportunity to learn about various raptors that cannot be released to the wild and serve as a wonderful means for educating visitors about these birds of prey, their life history and some of the challenges they face. Following this short presentation, we all had a chance to explore the diverse exhibits before either walking back to the ship, joining Grace on a nature walk, or sharing time with Bob and learning about the murals of The Dalles on a city tour.

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  • Hell’s Canyon and Clarkston, Oregon

    Well one thing’s for certain–it’s all down hill from here. We began our expedition in Clarkston, and then traveled in expedition landing crafts upstream another 35 miles through shallow water and raging rapids. After meeting the confluence of the wild Salmon River flowing into the Snake River, we traveled down 1,000-feet to sea level, 400-miles away. To get the full experience of these photos, view them from the passenger seat of a convertible car driving fast down a winding road.

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  • Palouse River

    After traveling overnight through the Lower Granite and Little Goose Locks, the National Geographic Sea Lion dropped anchor just north of the confluence of the Palouse and Snake Rivers. The sun burst through the clouds momentarily lighting of the hillsides in the beautiful morning glow that creates a ‘photographic emergency’. As the clouds ensconced the sun, the emergency was downgraded to a ‘photographic alert’. Although the sun did eventually give way to clouds and rain, we were able to stay through the morning activities which included expedition landing craft tours up the incredible Palouse River, Kayaking and visiting the 186-foot waterfall named for the river.

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  • Clarkston, Washington & Hells Canyon

    On the first day of our journey we are at Clarkston, Washington, on the Snake River. Right after breakfast we set off on jet boats for an exciting journey up the Snake River and into Hells Canyon. Rugged and remote, Hells Canyon is the deepest river-cut canyon in North America. Our first stop is at Asotin (Place of Eels). Here we marveled at a beautiful outcrop of complex columnar basalt where perfectly formed columns rise above the river. Soon we were on the free-flowing Snake River. High cliffs formed by layer after layer of basaltic lava flows rose high above us. As we proceeded upstream on this cloudy morning, fall colors brightened the landscape as mulberry trees glowed golden and sumac smoldered crimson on the rocky slopes.

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