“I think over again my small adventures
My fears, those small ones that seemed so big
For all the vital things I had to get and reach
And yet there is only one great thing
The only thing
To live to see the great day that dawns
And the light that fills the world.”
— Inuit proverb

This journey starts at the end of the previous one, after the Lost Coast. Instead of going back to San Francisco, the adventure continues across the West of the US, on a trip that will take us across 8 states. For the first part of this two-part series, we visit Redwoods National and State Parks in California, Portland, and the nearby truly gorgeous Columbia River Gorge in both Oregon and Washington, a pit stop in Idaho, Glacier National Park in Montana, Yellowstone National Park, and Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming.

Redwoods National & State Parks

Home to the tallest trees on Earth, a visit to Redwoods National & State Parks is always a humbling experience. We camp in the Del Norte Coast park for the night and meet some super friendly neighbors who give us some free beers from Hood River. So nice!  The next day we hike in the Jedediah Smith Park to the Fern Falls trail and check out the incredible Stout Grove.

Portland & The Columbia River Gorge

After driving across Oregon, we make it to Portland, where the dream of the 90s is still alive. The situation is a bit different than the last time I was here, as a lot of things are closed. But there is still plenty to do and to explore. Murals around the city are very interesting and varied. We end up eating lots of donuts, and also some delicious oysters and mussels.

As we continue our loop, just 30 minutes from Portland, we check out the Columbia River Gorge Scenic Area and we hike up to the top. of Dog Mountain which rewards us with incredible views of the area and Mount Hood.


On our way to Montana, we drive through Idaho, cross Coeur D’Alene, and camp next to Lake Pend Oreille. The next day, we stop in the nice little town of Bonners Ferry for good lunch at the Kootenai River Brewery.

Glacier National Park

At the border between the US and Canada, at the very top of the aptly named Montana, Glacier National Park is a beautiful area covered with lakes, lush forests, and… glaciers. Sadly, the glaciers are slowly disappearing due to climate change.

With great luck, we end up getting a last-minute campsite next to Lake McDonald and take the kayak out to enjoy the sunset. The next day, I get a backcountry permit and we do a 30-mile roundtrip hike to Harrison Lake. We see a couple of black bears on this hike which is definitely unsettling, but we are carrying bear spray just in case. But each time, the bears are very peaceful (and in one case, the bear is on the other side of the lake). The scenery is gorgeous.

When we return from Harrison Lake, we checked out Avalanche Lake and walked up the Going-to-the-Sun road.

When we got to the park, a large part of the park was still closed. The part that covered some of the most impressive mountains. Well, we suddenly heard that the road was going to be opened on the following Monday but we weren’t sure at what time. We decided to sleep on the parking lot near the barrier. Well, at midnight, the rangers came to open the road, and a frantic caravan of cars rushed to the top of the Logan Pass, we included. It was quite an adventure to drive that windy road at midnight. We parked the car and went back to sleep. The night was quite exciting as there were a couple of storms and even snow.

But it was all worth it, as the spectacle at sunrise was truly breathtaking and an experience to remember for a lifetime.

Yellowstone National Park

After a pit stop in the town of Bozeman, which was really enjoyable, but for a strange reason, I took very few pictures of (I was just enjoying the bars and restaurants perhaps), we make it to Gardiner, Montana, the Northern entrance of Yellowstone National Park where we stay for 5 days.

In the evenings, we go and explore the park, with its geysers, and its incredible wildlife which roams its plains, including a place called the Lamar Valley which is truly incredible. Big herds of bison and pronghorns roam freely, and it is quite easy to spot bears. We even get to see some gray wolves.

After staying in Gardiner, we camp one night inside Yellowstone, next to the lake of the same name. We hike the large yellow canyon. We take out the kayak again and check out geysers from the water which is a very cool experience.

Grand Teton National Park

The final stop of the Green part of the journey is the incredible Grand Teton National Park, which might have been my favorite place. The landscape changes completely compared to Yellowstone, and very rugged peaks rise up from the ground. We decide to do another backcountry adventure and end up hiking the Teton Crest Trail, a 40-mile (65km) thru-hike, over 3 days. The landscape is again breathtaking, and the trail takes us to one gorgeous area after another.

One the trail, we end up seeing another bear. We are quite lucky, as again, the bear is quite peaceful. We also see a lot of marmots. One of the highlights of the trail is reaching Hurricane Pass, as it gives us an incredible view of all of the Tetons.

To get back to the car, we end up hitchhiking, which to our surprise proves not to be such a challenge, even during this pandemic time.

After getting back to our car, we start driving south, swinging by Idaho again and stopping for some surprisingly amazing Northern Thai food. Our next destination is Salt Lake City and ultimately Bryce Canyon National Park and Zion National Park, which I will cover in part 2.