A Spiritual Quest and a River of Hope: James Sampsel

May 15, 2018

Don’t lose sight of who you are. No matter what you’ve been given; you’ve been given it for a reason. Never stop learning, both internally and externally.” 

-James Sampsel

Drew interviews friend James Sampsel, an Oregon-based steelhead guide and plein air artist. This incredibly special story isn’t one to miss. James opens up his heart to share some truly impactful personal details. We cover the murder of his sister, his spiritual quest cross-country, being kidnapped & robbed, receiving a bipolar diagnosis, and learning to properly care for his own mental health. He and his wife Kait are now celebrating the healthy birth of their first child, while together operating a guiding service called Humble Heron Flyfishing. Check it out!

2:35 Growing up in Missoula, MT. Camping. Flyfishing, and the start of a solid connection with nature.

4:29 A mixed-foundation. Mom’s Puerto Rican, Dad’s Pennsylvania Dutch. Friends were Blackfeet. All parts become part of the foundation.

7:30 Moving to the outskirts. “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Response?…Painter, musician, professional fly-fisherman.

9:30 Powwows, Native American spirit guides, connections through maternal grandmother.

12:00 Moving to Reno. Finding a new outlet in snowboarding. Practicing the craft.

17:00 Competitions. Intro into whitewater rafting.

21:30 The murder of his sister. An emotional trigger. A friendship forged through fishing.

31:00 The mighty Deschutes. Mapuin, OR.

34:00 Bipolar type 1. Learning about it.

36:30 Exposures. First steelhead on the fly. Passionist artistry. A road trip.

38:00 Spiritual journey. “It feels good, I feel really connected.”

43:00 Girranomo connection.

47:00 The naming assignment. Cows, numbers, thunder, immense emotions.

50:00 Out of body experience, Girranomo’s grave. “How much of that was real?”

52:30 Circling back to the day in OK. Releasing Girranomo. Grandma’s laughter.

55:00 Mental assessments in OK & OR. Feeling like a just number. Importance of self advocation.

101:03 Gateway to the Rogue. Resting, painting and recovering.

103:30 Traveling. Learning the importance of boundaries.

105:00 Yuba. Convenience store strangers & an open invitation to a steelhead trip.

106:00 Hallucinations. An unwanted day with strangers. Van stolen. Left for dead outside Nevada City.

109:00 Van recovery. Self-advocation. Getting results.

111:30 Unlikely run-in with the thieves, arrests made.

113:00 Back home. Deep & dark depression. Mom’s diagnosis. Moving to LaPine.

114:45 Finally some answers. Bipolar type 1 diagnosis. Cognitive therapy. Tying up loose ends. Rebuilding. A gift – another chance to get back into guiding.

116:00 Finding true love. Serving up the steelhead stoke. A new position in life – greater than what I could ever imagine! Community, anglers, and a safety net.

Life Lesson: “Don’t lose sight of who you are, no matter what you’ve been given; you’ve been given it for a reason. Never stop learning, both internally and externally.”

121:00 Meeting Kait Bailey. A marriage proposal. Joy! Anticipation of new life. A lot to look forward to.

124:00 Humble Heron Flyfishing – Specializing in steelhead trips in OR & Southern CA. Not only about catching fish, but the art of the cast, preparing the mind, and conservation. Clients often end up in paintings.

James Sampsel Fine Art Plein air, impressionist, oil on canvas.





















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