This morning on National Geographic Quest we woke up at the western section of the Columbia River Gorge, more than a hundred miles upriver from where we had set sail last night near the mouth of the Columbia River in Astoria, Oregon. Shortly after enjoying an excellent breakfast prepared by our talented galley team, we observed Multnomah Falls from the ship’s bow and starboard exterior decks. This spectacular waterfall spans tiers of basalt cliff bands and collectively forms the tallest waterfall in Oregon at over 600 feet tall.

The highlight of the morning was transiting our first navigational lock, at the Bonneville dam. Naturalist Eric Guth provided excellent interpretation of the varied aspects of the lock’s fascinating civil engineering. Following the transit of the lock, a talk given on smartphone photography was enjoyed by some guests, and another fantastic meal was served in the dining room.

After lunch, our real adventures began with unloading from the vessel by way of the fan tail onto our fleet of inflatable boats. Our skilled deck hands shuttled the guests to the shoreline where we disembarked onto a dock and had a short walk to load onto buses for a short but scenic drive down the Historic Columbia River Highway where we had an opportunity to visit Multnomah Falls in much closer detail.

After visiting Multnomah Falls, we split into two groups to explore different interests. One group went to the Bonneville fish hatchery while the other group went to hike a few miles up Tanner Creek to the spectacular Wahclella Falls. The trail was a bit muddy and the rain was heavy at times and the beautiful scenery made the outing quite a legitimate adventure. On the shuttles back to the ship, the sun set over the distant hills and made a mellow end to a beautiful day. Back on the ship, we celebrated Captain Paul’s birthday by signing happy birthday in the forward lounge.