As we have continued our journey through the Channel Islands National Park, we have discovered the unique story that each island here has to offer. Today we sailed towards the islands of Santa Rosa and San Miguel, the westernmost islands of the National Parks. Our morning began on Santa Rosa, the third largest of the islands with a rich history in both ranching and archaeology. Guests landed along the dramatic sandstone cliff faces that line the beach here to explore the hiking the island has to offer. Some took an adventurous hike to the rare Torrey Pines that grow only on Santa Rosa and near San Diego while others ventured into Cherry Canyon to learn about the diverse mosaic of native plants that have colonized and evolved over time. With some extra time, we were also able to paddle and swim before returning to the ship for lunch. Later in the day we continued our journey westward towards the island of San Miguel. This island is notoriously difficult to approach because it lies closest to the open Pacific Ocean and is exposed to extreme ocean swell. Luckily, for us, the conditions were calm and allowed us to sail close to the shoreline. We got close enough to see the spectacle that this island has to offer – hundreds of pinnipeds hauled out on the sandy beaches. northern elephant seals, California sea lions, and harbors seas utilize these isolated beaches as resting spots and mating colonies throughout the year. Together, these two islands added to the powerful story of isolation and conservation that the Channel Islands continue to tell us.
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.