Yesterday, adventurous travelers from across the country gathered in Clarkston, Washington to embark on a weeklong exploration of the Snake and Columbia Rivers, traveling from the heart of the “inland empire” through the Columbia Plateau, Gorge, and down to the river’s mouth near Astoria, Oregon. We boarded National Geographic Sea Bird, moved into our cabins, reviewed necessary safety procedures, and settled down to rest before the adventurous day ahead.

This morning, we arose for a jetboat expedition deep into Hells Canyon, upstream on the Snake River along the borders of Idaho, Washington, and Oregon. The trip covered more than a hundred miles and included a stop for a picnic lunch at the historic Garden Creek Ranch and Orchard. We returned to the dock and ship midafternoon. Before departing the dock, we enjoyed presentations about the local Nez Perce culture and the emerging local winemaking industry. Before the end of the evening, we were transiting our first lock and dam, losing 100 feet of elevation on our weeklong voyage to sea level.