We got out of bed around 7:00 AM. Got some morning time with Jesus and then headed in for breakfast. Farm fresh eggs cooked to order, fruit and berries, bacon, sausage, hash browns and piping hot coffee. After breakfast we sat around the table and had our first discussion about the book Wild at Heart by John Eldredge.
The way that Smiling Moose Ranch came about is that Jan read the book 8 years ago and was impacted by it in a huge way. He sent a copy to many of his buddies, and then decided to try and meet the author. He got a sit down with John and told them that he would like to build a lodge on his ranch for guys to get away and talk through the themes of the book. Seven years ago John Eldredge lead the first trip with Jan. This summer there are 9 trips of 10 guys doing a 5 1/2 day experience at the ranch. Pretty amazing!
Late morning we did our first run of life stories. There are 12 men total on the trip, including Chris and Ken, so we did three guys each day. Each man was given 30 minutes to tell there story, and then a few questions or comments were made. One of the comments Eldredge makes in his book is, “You don’t really know a man until your know his story.” Since most of the guys on the trip didn’t know each other, this was a great way to establish a level of friendship pretty quickly.
After lunch we geared up and headed to the Bear Creek Fly Shop, wow! By fly shop I mean large log cabin that is mostly fly gear with a small apartment on the top floor for the owner and his wife. The place was incredible! After that we headed to meet our guides on the Madison River. We pulled up and our boats were in the water. Two guys per boat with a guide doing the oars and coaching us. Getting on the water with fly rod in hand was a bit surreal. I can’t saying to myself, ” I can’t believe I am here doing this.” The fishing was slow but I didn’t care. The scenes were remarkable and I was beginning to get the hand of casting. About half way into our 6 hour float the afternoon weather set in. First rain, then wind, then mare rain, then hail, then sun, then wind, then a downpour. I caught one fish, but technically it got away just before I put it into the net in the water. It was still a great first day, and the weather report looked great for our next three days of fishing…