(From the publisher):
When the enigmatic Jebediah Smith, greatest of the mountain men, puts together a brigade of trappers for an expedition into the unknown territory of Mexican California, Sam joyfully joins up. With his Crow Indian wife, Meadowlark, and his coyote pup at his side, Sam sees the expedition as a chance for adventure - and wealth.
Captain Smith leads the group south in search of thr Buenaventura, a great river believed to connect the Great Salt Lake to California, but when the river proves to be a myth, the trek toward the Pacific becomes a nightmare. Struggling through the Mojave desert, a land of sand and scrub in which game is practically nonexistent and water a rarity, their lives are saved on several occasions by strange bands of naked Indians who share food with the starving trappers.
Like ghosts they struggle into the San Gabriel Mission in southern California and there recuperate, but the Mexican government eyes them with suspicion. Following a bloody knife fight that leaves two men dead, Sam and his companions are forced to flee back into the Mojave.
When Meadowlark falls ill, Sam pushes west again and brings her safely to Monterey. There, after she gives birth to the daughter whom they name Esperanza - Hope - Sam learns the poignant meaning of the words of his mentor, Hannibal McKye: "Life is like a golden bear. It's magnificent, it's beautiful, and it bites."
Original title: Dancing with the Golden Bear
Genre: Fiction→ Western→ Mountain Men
Fiction→ Western→ Coming of Age