In this sweeping saga, Yvonne Harris tells the poignant stories of Robert and Alice, two young people who join the 1846 wagon train to cross North America on their way to the West Coast. Seeking a better life, thirteen-year-old Robert leaves his impoverished family in Iowa and accompanies the main group as it follows the well-established Oregon Trail to the Pacific Northwest. Alice, a lovely young widow, is forced to follow a husband she despises on the difficult trek even when he insists on taking the Hastings Cutoff with a small party from the wagon train who forego the longer route for a virtually unknown trail touted as a short cut to the West Coast. Alice’s husband’s hasty decisions dramatically alter the course of their lives; instead of reaching the green fields of California, the party finds themselves trapped on the wrong side of the snow and ice-capped Sierra Nevada with almost nothing left in the way of supplies.
Both eventually make their way to Victoria and the BC Interior in search of gold. They encounter the American militia, intent on taking over the Fraser River from the tribes, and Chief Spintlum, who chooses peace over war and saves his people from a massacre.
The story is based on the historical accounts of settlers traveling west on the Oregon Trail, the tragic account of the Donner Party and the search for gold on the Fraser River. In preparing to write this narrative, the author climbed the Donner Pass and traveled the Oregon Trail and the Fraser River attempting to recreate the passage across a virtually unknown land.