This is where the journey ends.
The white cliffs of Hanford Reach tumble into sage hills and orchards along the Columbia River.
Scattered houses dot the hills, their yards shrinking until they form the suburban, then urban, neighborhoods of Richland.
Farther down river, Pasco squats on the right, the last Columbia River port for barges pushed upriver.
A family plays on the south shore, throwing sticks in the water for a long-legged dog to retrieve. Behind them stands Kennewick, the third of the Tri-Cities.
The north shore juts into the river, then ends abruptly. Here, the Columbia meets its greatest tributary, the Snake River.
For a month, staff writer Dan Hansen and photographer Steve Thompson traveled 420 miles of the Columbia by boat, from the Canadian border to its union with the Snake.
As they skimmed over the region’s greatest natural resource, the two watched its shores change shades from forest green to sage gray.
They portaged their inflatable boat around seven dams.
Early in the trip, rain and driving wind forced them off the river at times.
Later, they broke out the sunscreen to protect against the brilliant rays.
Mostly, they met people.
And those people shared their stories of the Columbia River and their lives along it.
Their tales ranged from Kettle Falls homes hustled away from the rising waters of Lake Roosevelt, to a father who lost a son to the mighty river, to a sturgeon-fishing guide applying his skills on Hanford Reach.
The final installment of the Columbia Chronicles appears in today’s IN Life section.
Please see page E1.
, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Color photo