Wyoming Final Chapter -- Peace on Earth I awoke to start our last full day in the wilderness around Jackson Hole with a deep sense of contentment. Fishing and scenery had filled my soul, the sleeping bag was warm against the autumn chill of the morning air and the sound of the river echoed in the distance. That feeling of contentment just grew as I unzipped my tent and found this scene waiting for me I cooked a big order of oatmeal, one of the few meals I can successfully cook ……… and took my time getting rigged for the days fishing. With the sun now bright and intense I could actually hear the hoppers tuning up and instinctively knew that hopper dropper was the right choice of the day. My first cast of the day managed a fish and my spirits soared like the water rushing at my feet. (please note I am aware that posing fish on rocks and sand is not good for fish survival and will work on not doing that in the future) I was relaxed enough to snap a few scenery shots to help me burn the magic of the morning into my dizzy vertigo plagued brain. Sometimes the majesty of the mountains, the beauty of the stream and the peace that settles over me when I am blessed enough to be part of it, erases all of the worry and trouble from my mind and eases me into a world of pure contentment. This part of the world is known for its “big sky” but the term doesn’t do it justice on a day when the sun is warm and soft and the sky is so blue it pulls your troubles out of your heart and turns them loose on the wings of the wind that gusts down the valley. A valley so big and so open and so perfect that a man just has to relent and release his worries simply because you realize how utterly and truly small and insignificant they are in the face of grandeur on this scale ……… my small personal problems and struggles seem to be simply swallowed by the sun, the sky, the wind and washed away on the sparkling waters of the river. I continued on in this almost meditative trance until I stumbled around a bend in the river and saw this hole of water. All peaceful whims of sight and scenery were dashed to the back reaches of my mind as “serious fishing” flashed forefront…….. the magic of the scenery is great and all……… but the magic of a beautiful hole and beaconing fish……… well now that is truly priceless ………..as you guys can obviously see ……… And serious fishing was the order of business for the next four hours or so. The hopper dropper was a perfect ticket and I caught more fish than I could count. Big solid strong cutt’s rising with reckless abandon on high floating dries, fish with beautiful colorings and markings, which bent my blonde 4 wt to the cork time after time. Leaving me smiling to the soul as I watched them swim away from my hand, back to the blue green depths of the river’s current. I caught so many fish that when I broke the dropper off, I didn’t even bother to re-tie it back on… and for me that means an obscene number of fish came to hand that afternoon. I found many more beautiful holes all with fish to match. I fished hard … casting, catching and releasing till I realized suddenly that my head was empty of thought and my heart was full of feeling ……. A magical combination that happens on rare occasions … or should I say only when I become conscious enough to notice it and nearly always when I am in the healing company of mountains and trout streams. In the shadows of late afternoon I sat down in a beautiful grass meadow and light a cigar and watched the beauty of the world around me. I actually just sat and watched feeding trout rising to naturals and didn’t even fish. I was lost in the magic of this… … I was pleasantly tired and totally content. I spent a few minutes trying to think deep meaningful, life changing thoughts about my recent illness and health scares. I tried to think of philosophical self improvement campaigns … … and failed completely in the best and most healing way possible. I sat and smoked and didn’t think a thing. I simply watched the river roll by and let the sight and sound soak into my soul until it permeated my whole mind, my whole heart and my whole being …….. with peace …….. peace on earth…. So somehow not thinking provided the deepest meaning I could find……. That was a gift from heaven…….. a gift I needed more than I even knew. I sat so long my body began to get tight so I started a slow amble back toward camp. I stopped to take a few pictures trying to see the scenes from different viewpoints and trying to capture the beauty from different angles and perspectives… …… in short just playing… cause in the end with beauty of this level any picture I took would be nice. See if you can tell the difference in these two sets of pictures of the same things ….. shot differently Or this set By the time I reached camp the cliffs above us were barley holding the last direct sunshine of the day … … Signaling the end of one of the most perfect and peaceful days on the water I could remember and unfortunately signaling the beginning of the end of a great trip. I felt a stab of melancholy as I realized that tomorrows light would shine on our departure from this wonderland … but I felt to dang happy and content for even that thought to cast a very large shadow on my heart. I poured some bourbon and found a Carlito “God of Fire” cigar that I had been saving for quite some time … … for just this type moment … … and Monte and I headed way up the hill above our camp to watch darkness descend on the valley. The company was good, the bourbon was superb, the cigar was beyond my already high expectations … but the scenery was beyond compare. I sat there watching the mule deer drift down to the river in the fading light basking in the glory of the beauty before me. I thought briefly about the mental clarity I had been actively seeking for the last year or so as I have dealt with health issues, getting older, kids leaving home and all of the changes the world naturally forces upon us. I turned the thought quickly as I said to myself forget all of that and enjoy the beauty of what lies in front of you ……. And with a startling flash of mental self revelation I realized that was the answer and perspective that I had been seeking …….. forget the stress and strain, forget getting older there isn’t anything you can do about it anyway, forget the changing personal and global world ……… and enjoy the beauty of the world before me. I realized suddenly what a wonderful life I have been lucky enough to lead and what wonderful family and friends I have been blessed with and how lucky I was to be healthy enough to have made this trip successfully despite the issues. In that short flash I realized that my life has been a true blessing … … I still have much more to see and do and things I need to make happen in my life…….. but my life is none the less pretty miraculous and blessed even as wobbly and shaky as it is. I smiled from the heart and soul as I continued to watch night falling on our little valley … and returned my mind to nothing …. Nothing but peace and contentment……peace on earth Here is a peaceful man. That peace soon enough carried me off to dreamland snoring softly as the day of departure dawned bringing to a close my time in this mountain valley paradise. But the morning and the valley had one last dose of beauty for our souls. The hike out was uneventful … which was in and of itself a wonderful thing and yes I did carry my pack all by myself, like a good big boy, even across the river crossings. I may not be smart but I definitely am stubborn … vertigo be damned. But even my struggles with the pack and the hike couldn’t erase the feeling of peace that filled my heart. I knew that the memories of this trip would be like a well of cool mountain water that I could use to help me put out the fires of my day to day life ….. and I hope to help me preserve the peace of mind and soul that I had somehow stumbled upon sitting there watching a Wyoming mountain valley fade into dusk. I have said it before and I will say it again … … and again … … I hope … Thank you God for the love of my family, for the support and friendship that surrounds me, for the beauty of your world and for the peace they all bring to my heart.