If you have your health, you have everything. Forget about a good car, or job, or that your kid keeps getting in trouble at school. Next time you wake up in the morning, take a second to breathe and realize how grateful you truly are for for it.
This past summer I had the opportunity to guide some of the bravest men I've ever met. Not just men, but men living with cancer.
In August Stan Golub from Reel Recovery called and asked if I would like to help out with the upcoming retreat at Dome Mountain Ranch. I hesitated for a minute because the last time I helped at Rock Creek I ended up with a whitetail deer coming through my driver's side window to head-butt me. Nothing a few ibuprofen wouldn't cure.
So, I said of course I would like to help.
This last season was wild. We waited and waited for the rivers to drop. When the cutthroat on the Yellowstone started eating the pink-colored thingamabobber I knew it was time for terrestrials. I had been guiding 8 days in a row on the Stone before I headed up to meet the crew for the Reel Recovery retreat. The river was ready.
For a lot of these guys, they are tired of hearing about cancer. They know they have it, because they live with it, everyday.
Reel Recovery retreats focus on creating an environment that caters to healing, but more importantly giving these men a chance to get outside, on the water, with guys just like themselves. If for a moment one man forgot about his health and laughed as a big trout ate his fly, we did something right.
I met men with various stages of cancer. Some recovering, some recently diagnosed. My new friend Gordon had to quit guiding when he found out he had cancerous tumors in his brain.
But god damn can he cast.
I'll be back next year for the retreat. And the year after that. Because I am forever grateful to stand next such courageous men. Thanks guys.
You can get involved with Reel Recovery too, visit www.reelrecovery.org.
Austin Trayser is happiest behind the lens, the oars or the wheel. Rarely will you see him without a camera and a fly rod. Raised by summers in Montana, his love for mother nature began at an early age. He is grateful for the opportunity to visualize and capture some of the earth's finest elements. To see more of Austin's work, visit his web site.