A couple of modern middle-aged men saddle up to ride the Santa Fe Trail in the middle of July. They get some low mileage riding horses, a pack animal, strap on the little they need and head West following the Cimarron Cutoff. Sam is a failed Westerns writer, chopping wood for a living, Travis an untenured professor coming out of divorce. Their lives are at a dead end.
The ride hardens them up, gives them gristle, fires a passion for life. The animal of them comes out along with a raw survival hardness they never suspected in themselves. They go from combatting one another to joining forces to stay alive.
The desert route of the Trail cuts through country as empty and unforgiving as 150 years ago, with more fences and less game. You ride along in that awful heat eaten by flies, hungry, parched, looking for a few patches of grazing for the horses, a windmill stock tank, well, you're there, you've made it back into the past. I made this ride to research the story, so the trail details and the survival situations are real.
As the two near Santa Fe they are not the same greenhorns who rode out of Kansas six weeks before, they have turned into a couple of battered men as lean and mean as any mountain man from the last century.
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