I started my new journey to the south recovering the toe cocktail. I did not really pay attention to where I slept and woke up in that mud.
As I was packing my tent, I knew I was about to start a long week.
Indeed, I had a friend visiting south of British Columbia. He was more than 2500 km from me and it was raining all along the way. I went straight for it (as I already knew the road) and only stopped to sleep.
Every night, I would ask locals if I could pitch my tent in their garden to be protected from both rain and grizzlies.
I had various rides with natives people, locals and some far away travelers such as my friend from Quebec !
I met David and Valerie and spent two days going south with them. Not so hard, you would say, since there is only one road to go south ^^.
Sometimes, we left the road to visit beautiful spots.
Couple of days, beers, meals and great memories later, we were almost back to Jasper. We had our last lunch together and I thanked them for those few 1000 km made together…
I made it just in time to meet an old friend of mine, Andrea and his family, biking all the province of BC for holidays.
I spent a couple of days with them, drank my fair amount of beers and kept going south on the way to the USA.
Even if there were more than one road going south, I took the same one to make sure I would visit my friends from Field (who I met a month ago on my way to Alaska).
Here it comes, I finally met summertime…
I enjoyed that time here to explore that national park a bit further and went hiking a lot with Malik.
Here is that tiny village lost in Yoho national park wilderness.
Those were among the last glaciers I saw in Canada.
Not as big as in Alaska but still dramatic.
Energized and rested, it was time to hit the road again, but not alone. Yann, a chef working in the city, left the same day and decided to travel with me for a while.
We spent a whole week together traveling through the south of British Columbia. We did not really have any plans except hiking as much as possible.
We found some very sick spots out there.
Those lakes are close to Revelstock national park.
That part of BC is all about lakes. Some you just gaze at…
Some others you cross !
And when you get tired of cold water, you can just jump in those hot springs by the side of the road !
Without realizing it we were already at the border. We had a last meal together and took different directions. Now it was time to discover Washington state.
I made it through the border and was back on the US soil. More than 3 months had passed since I crossed the border the other way. Bye Canada, it was amazing.
I got a late ride in the evening and went from forest to desert. I could not believe that the “ever green” Washington state looked that dry !
Still used to cold weather after Alaska, it was tough out there. As I was walking down the road wondering how would be hitchhiking, that car stopped.
I thought it was a joke or I was hallucinating with the heat but no, that was real. And that, was Joseph in his jaguar.
He asked me where I was going and I only replied to the closest river please. We had a couple of miles to get to know each other then he dropped me and I went swimming to cool down.
I went out of the water and I realized he was still here. As I was wondering why he came back, he simply said that I was invited to his friend house for the night as they were all curious about my travel.
I stepped in one of the most beautiful house I had seen so far and met the whole family and friends there.
I just had time to introduce myself then I was already thrown to a tube ! Haha damn, back in the USA !
While I was surviving on the tube, I realized why it was so hot. Fires were all over Washington state. The global warming impact is stronger every year all over the world.
Joseph friends offered me to stay another day with them. Like usual, I only accepted if they would let me cook something for them. There was already a meal so I went for another classic, tarte tatin !
I rested very well with them because I was going to hike for the next days. We figured out that the park where I was going was close to their home city and decided to meet there once I would be done with my trip. Amazing people.
After another great night, I went west through the North Cascade national park.
I walked for 2 days and went to see another friend of mine, met couple days ago in BC. That might be the best part of travelling in XXI century now, it’s so easy to connect !
I did not even have to hitchhike next day as Joseph sent his daughter to pick me up…
I thought I had seen my fair share of nice houses but Joseph’s one was really something.
For the first time since I left New York I saw the ocean… This in Fidalgo island, by Seattle.
Needless to say that this is American hospitality at its highest level !
I stayed 2 days with Joseph. He took me fishing indigenous crabs with his friends and taught me how it works.
We came back later in the day and made a last dinner all together. Like usual, when the time came, it was not easy to leave them. At least the next destination was really thrilling.
I packed more than 10 kilos of food and water and went to the Olympic mountains, one of the only rain forests in the northern hemisphere.
What makes this place unique is the location of those high mountains just a couple of miles from the ocean.
I went hiking there for 5 days. The toughest time was always in the morning when I packed my tent. I always wondered how all of my staff would fit in my backpack.
The closer I went to the ocean, the more humid it became.
After two days, I finally reached the heart of the rain forest and its giants trees.
There was no more noise and smells were so powerful.
Last ray of sun of the day !
It was very hot in the forest. I decided to go to the highest mountain to cool down.
I was surprised to find snow on the top.
But I certainly did not expect to face one of the biggest glacier I had seen so far.
Starting in a deep rain forest, I did not know I could reach such an altitude in one day.
I finished my hike with those 2 guys from Seattle and started to hitchhike again.
I went a bit off the coast to visit parents of a friend who I had hosted once in Biarritz.
It could not have been a better time. Having great dinner, taking dog for walk, Sunday morning yoga and be part of a family for a while was all I needed after that long hike. Thanks Bruce and Kelly !
As there were more cities, I could not sleep everywhere with my tent anymore. Every night, I asked people if they knew a field or some land where I could pitch my tent without being shot or arrested.
Before leaving Washington state, I wanted to check Mount St Helen, a huge volcano that blew up in the 80s. Because of fires close, I could not climb it so I experienced lava tunnels.
I took them for more than 3 km before running back to the light as I was freaking out. I had forgotten I am claustrophobic…
Fortunately I met Elaine and Patrick. They offered me to have a beer in their house in exchange of my stories. It turned up that it was also couple of beers, dinner and a bed ! That was the best night ever before leaving Washington state.
Patrick drove me to the border between Washington and Oregon.
From now on til I made it to San Diego, I would follow the road 101 and stick to the coast.
North Pacific looked very wild and cold. I liked it, there was no one on the beach.
After few rides, I realized that people living in Oregon were as friendly as in Washington.
Indeed, even if I was not hitchhiking, people asked me what I was doing. As soon as they realized I was traveling from France, they invited me over.
That’s how I met Mel, Wendy and their very nice beach house.
That made sure I was experiencing the American way of life with some smores.
Depending of who you meet, you get to experience different American things. My next driver took me out shooting when he realized with astonishment I had never shot with a gun.
I guess that smores I ate yesterday turned me into an American sniper !
Driving through Oregon made me realize I really started to be in the south. The seaside was spectacular.
I started to sleep on the beach almost every single night.
Most of drivers who gave me a ride were taking the road 101 just for holidays. I visited almost every touristic spot with them.
As soon as hikes appeared by the side of the road, I went off and walked.
Just like in Washington state, Oregon’s mountains meet the ocean as well. That gave me the opportunity to experience new rain forest hikes.
Scenic roads attract nice cars. Tavish, a young Canadian looking for nice curves was driving on the 101 with his convertible. Turned out he was also looking for adventure, he gave me a ride.
I was on my way to visit some friends who had given me a ride couple of weeks ago so I invited him over to meet Oarlene and Tim !
Being 2 guests, we felt that we had to cook twice more !
It had been a lot of fun and concluded perfectly my time in Oregon.
Few pies and guitar riffs later, Tavish and I were back on the road and decided to drive together to California.
When you cross the Californian border from the north, the first thing you meet are the giants redwoods. I knew those trees were huge but I did not expect anything like this.
Some of those trees were more than 1500 years old…
I felt I had to explore and feel this very special forest. I said goodbye to my friend and went on a 3 days retreat into those woods.
Those woods were so dense that it was swallowing every single sound around. It has been one of the most peaceful place I visited since the Sahara.
It also had some pretty good place to sleep !
I finally made it to the ocean and headed back to the road.
South, always south.
I started to get closer to some very famous places.
Knowing that southern California was more crowded, I took some last coastal hikes.
And visited some friends from Alaska who I met with Bob (blues man) while playing guitar in a pub.
They really knew how to welcome a French guy (from Corsica) !
I finally realized I was in California when I saw the Golden Bridge over the horizon.
I found a host through Couch surfing who showed me some of the sickest spot of SF on his scooter !
Later, I wondered by myself through one of the most diverse city of US.
And the steepest !
Leaving SF hitchhiking was not easy but for the second time in this trip, I met another hitchhiker. He was also going south on one of the most famous roads in the world, the highway 1.
That was the first time he was hitchhiking in the USA and in one day, we had all the craziest rides possible ^^
We rested the next day and I went hiking through Big Sur national park after having a proper (french) goodbye.
I had passed through that park by the past and had never stopped. I’m glad I did it that time.
Once I reached the top of the mountain, I found myself a nice place to settle my tent.
And gazed at one of the most beautiful sunset ever.
Next morning, I left the highway and went in land to avoid Los Angeles. Damn here it is, the hot California…
My attempt to avoid LA did not really work out as I met Steve, an American Korean, who really wanted to make me try decent Korean food.
He drove me straight to downtown LA in the Korean area to experience Korean BBQ 🙂
I had a friend living one hour from LA and he drove me to her door to make sure I had a place to sleep. This kind of person is the reason why I make my blog, to show that’s there is so much kindness in this world.
I met my friend Dinah who had hosted me in Washington DC and got to relax with her and a family before going through the desert. Just amazing to meet her a second time !
I got an umbrella and went through the desert to hike. The temperature went up to 45 Celsius…
Not only was it hot, there was hardly anyone. Hours later, I finally found the canyon I was looking for.
This was the only shade of the desert.
I came back to the surface at night and enjoyed that immensity for myself !
My camera could not capture it but this is the best night sky I had in that trip.
This was my last night of hitchhiking in the USA.
I left that very special place and a few hours later and 15 degrees less, I was in San Diego, my ultimate destination in the USA.
I used to live in SD couple of years ago. I found some of my old roomates in there !
It could not have been a better way to relax than finding the San Diego way of life.
Starting the day surfing.
Then using last muscles left in our arms to roll down some pastas…
Finally party like hell !
And from time to time attending American football. I still try to figure out how that game works.
I spent almost 2 weeks in San Diego with my ex roommates and had a lot of time to think. That was the first time in a while that I could really have time for myself. I came to realize a few different points :
- I was a bit tired.
Indeed, I had covered almost 20 000 km in the last 6 months, including endless days of hiking, without mentionning crossing the Atlantic twice on a sailboat.
- I was travelling for more than 20 months and I was getting close to my 36 months initial travel objective.
If I wanted to keep the same pace, I had obviously not enough time to visit the other half of the world (South America, Australia, Asia) unless I speeded dramatically.
- Finally I found it hard to meet so many nice people, create precious connections, then leave and start it all again the next day.
What really matters in the end is not how much distance you cover everyday.
Then I decided to spend the last 16 months on this trip to focus on South America. I would settle more, volunteer (also a way to give back) create deeper connections with people and… surf. I had been missing it for too long and I was about to cross some of the best waves in the world.
Also to relax family and friends (who had already been through a lot with my trip…), I would fly straight to Costa Rica, in order to avoid some countries like Mexico, Honduras, Nicaragua… where hitchiking could be dangerous.
I do have friends in all of those countries and they told me it was better to skip it for now. Therefore, the trip went on but the final objective was now Argentina !