Our final day on this remarkable river trip is based in Clarkston, at the confluence of the Snake and the Clearwater Rivers, near the heart of Nez Perce country. First thing in the morning, we boarded locally operated jetboats for a tour deep into Hells Canyon National Recreation Area. The tour went south into the narrowest and deepest part of the canyon, beyond the junction with the Salmon River, the “River of No Return,” which flows freely throughout its entire length, crossing the mountains of Idaho. Lunch was catered at Garden Creek Ranch, a remote oasis of orchards and greenery, right where Idaho, Oregon, and Washington meet. Upon return to National Geographic Quest, we were treated to two aspects of local history and culture: stories and music of the Nimiipuu, or the Nez Perce people, and insights into winemaking and wine tasting from Coco Umiker, owner and winemaker at the local estate vineyard, Clearwater Canyon.
National Geographic Sea Bird
O! the Joy! Hmm, we needed to rethink that one this morning, as we woke to a rainy and blustery Astoria. What this weather did give us was a taste of historic authenticity in relation to the Corps of Discovery and their experiences here in the winter of 1805-06. Our first activity this morning was amongst the magnificent exhibits of the Columbia River Maritime Museum. This world-class facility tells the story of the mighty Columbia and the treacherous results to mariners when the river shoves against the incoming tides of the Pacific Ocean. As our day progressed, we crossed the Astoria-Megler bridge to the state of Washington. At the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center the winds continued but the rain subsided, and we enjoyed a sun-drenched afternoon with an option to walk a forest trail down to Waikiki Beach. The sun and sand were a siren to us and we made an additional stop at the North Jetty to get a water-level view of the waves crashing against the rocks of the Cape Disappointment lighthouse. The day turned out anything but disappointing.