Our final full day of excursions was based in Astoria. The oldest continuously occupied settlement west of the Rocky Mountains, it has been a key access point for maritime trade for goods and natural resources throughout the Columbia River Basin. We have reached the westernmost limit of our journey, as it was for the Corps of Discovery during the winter of 1805–6. We began with a visit to the Columbia River Maritime Museum, then had a fine day out, visiting the historic site of Fort Clatsop, Fort Stevens, and the beach at the wreck of the Peter Iredale, an iron bark driven ashore during a storm in 1906. With unusually clear skies and a stiff offshore breeze, how fitting to conclude the day and our week of exploration with a sunset cruise out towards the mouth of the "Great River of the West." We safely returned, of course, avoiding any difficulties in an area known for its swirling currents and shifting sands, then started the overnight transit, up river, to our last port-of-call in Portland, Oregon.
National Geographic Sea Bird
We began our day on National Geographic Sea Bird with an early morning stretch and a delightful breakfast buffet. Guests prepared for a typical wet day exploring the Oregon and Washington sides of the Columbia River Gorge. Groups set off after breakfast. One group headed to Multnomah Falls and the Bonneville Fish Hatchery, while the other traveled to Beacon Rock State Park and Multnomah Falls. Multnomah Falls, Oregon’s second most visited attraction, did not disappoint. Water crashed down the falls at over 700 cubic feet per second. Guests hiked up to the Benson Bridge. They took photos with guidance from Lindblad’s photographic instructor, Kelly Coursey Gray. After visiting the falls, guests toured the Bonneville Fish Hatchery. Patrick MacQuarrie, naturalist and river historian, explained how fish hatcheries operate and function within the Columbia River Basin. Herman, an 82-year-old white sturgeon that lives at the hatchery and warmly greets onlookers, captivated our guests. Meanwhile, the other National Geographic Sea Bird group climbed Beacon Rock on the Washington side of the Columbia River, a site first noted by Lewis and Clark as “Beaten Rock.” This was where Clark first noted tidal influence on the Columbia River. On April 06, 1805, he noted, “it is only in the fall of the year when the river is low that the tides are perceptible as high as beacon rock [sic] .” Guests hiked over 400-feet up the trail of 57 switchbacks, taking in breathtaking views from an elevation of 840-feet. After returning, National Geographic Sea Bird pulled anchor and set sail downriver. We passed through the last lock, Bonneville Dam and Lock, as guests enjoyed the Guest Photo Slideshow after dinner. We are off to Portland, ending National Geographic Sea Bird’s epic voyage on the Snake and Columbia Rivers. Photographers: Patrick MacQuarrie, Naturalist and River Historian ; Robert Edwards, Naturalist ; and Grace Winer, Naturalist