By Greg Pang
I am the CEO of a nonprofit home health and hospice agency in Washington State with over 300 employees and 250 volunteers. My days are filled with meeting agendas, schedules, and problem-solving. In September 2015, I took two weeks and traveled solo to four National Parks, and without advance reservations; North Cascades, Yellowstone, Grand Teton, and Great Basin. My typical workday is completely scheduled from one appointment to the next, so I was looking forward to spending time just “letting things happen”. I was not disappointed, in fact I decided that each year I will be visiting National Parks until, like Jack and Colton, I’ve explored them all!
I have a small teardrop trailer that provides an excellent base camp. My exploration shuttle is a mountain bike and two sturdy legs, hiking poles, and hiking boots.
Exploring the National Parks is a fantastic experience, particularly for anyone needing some peace and quiet to restore themselves! Even in a sometimes crowded National Park like Yellowstone, there is plenty of opportunity to get away. However, one must attend to safety so I would never hike to remote areas alone. I found several hikes where I would pass by someone every few minutes, but the whole time could enjoy the scenery, take photos, have a snack, close my eyes and enjoy the peaceful sounds of nature. I remember a most enjoyable hike around Jenny Lake in Grand Teton. A boat took a group of visitors across the lake, and there are several trails on the other side to explore on the slopes of the mountains. In the end, I didn’t take the boat back but instead slowly strolled around the lake back to the visitor center. Talk about a change of pace!
I found ample opportunities to mountain bike at Yellowstone and Grand Teton. Ranger-led programs provided a great opportunity to learn about the parks and share information with other visitors. The Ranger-led Lehman Cave tour at Great Basin NP was 90 minutes of narrated awe. I think I took a couple hundred photos on that tour.
Seeing amazing places and sights in our National Parks was exactly the therapy and adventure I needed to reenergize. After my trip I created a short video scrapbook. One day when I am gone, my kids and their kids will have these videos cataloging my National Park travels, and I hope it will inspire them to get out and explore! Have a look, maybe it will inspire you too!
After returning home, I decided to volunteer for our National Parks system! In SW Washington State we have the Fort Vancouver National Historic Site, and Mt. St. Helens National Volcanic Monument. Maybe one day I’ll meet Jack and Colton in one of these national treasures!