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Diana's View: Today's American West (8/17/2001)

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Last week-end I finally got a chance to visit a place I've been thirsting to see for many years now. The Columbia River Gorge between Oregon and Washington. It's a wonder of natural forces. Huge monoliths of rock jut up out of the Columbia river. Old forest evergreens - a vast sea of them - tower above the thousand-foot waterfalls.

The amazing thing about it was how accessible this pristine wilderness is today. My friend and I biked into remote alpine lake territory on smooth dirt and gravel roads. We hiked trails as thick and spongy as carpet - so easy on the boots that a ten-mile hike seemed like five. And we kept saying to each other how we were so lucky to be able to immerse ourselves so easily in the beautiful interior forests.

We were at the Oregon coast, the Pacific, the end point of Lewis and Clark's epic exploration journey. And we constantly remarked how those early explorers made their way through that land when it was totally wild and untouched. Today on the show, we hear from a reporter who traced the Lewis and Clark trail from the other end, embarking from St. Charles, Missouri. He traveled the route on a state-of-the-art mountain bike but he still managed to find a bit of the wilderness of 1804. That journey in search of today's America's West next on The Savvy Traveler.

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