Come 6:15 a.m. – in the very earliest light of dawn – the constellation Orion, the Mighty Hunter, studded the southern sky just below a waning gibbous moon. Overnight we had sailed from the Snake River onto the mighty Columbia, the Great River of the West. We entered the lock at McNary Dam and down we went. The great barn-door-style gates split before us, and we continued our way downriver. In the morning, we enjoyed presentations by our naturalist Ivan and photo instructor Linda. Our afternoon destination was Crow Butte Island where we hiked and launched our kayaks for some quality paddling. Crow Butte Island has an arid sagebrush steppe climate with many interesting plants adapted to this environment.
National Geographic Quest
Today we had the opportunity to experience the brisk wind on our faces and pelting of cool, occasional raindrops as we visited Cape Disappointment in Washington and the Columbia River Maritime Museum in Astoria, Oregon. This was nowhere near the level of discomfort the Corps of Discovery endurred when they explored these same grounds in the fall of 1805. As the Corps came west, they were excited to get to the Pacific Ocean, but that excitement was literally and figuratively dampened with the white-capped waters of the Columbia and miserable weather that initially pinned them and their canoes to the Washington shoreline at a campsite to be later named Dismal Nitch. A most notable feature was the sound created by 30-knot winds as they swept through the needled branches of Sitka spruce and the leafy limbs of Red Alder. We ended our day taking refuge on National Geographic Quest , warm, dried off and with a glass of wine to enhance our internal warmth. Our journey has been diverse and that has been reflected in the weather as well as the landscape and the flora and fauna that call the Pacific Northwest home.