Lee Bergthold and three companions set out to retrace the infamous Hastings Cutoff. They trekked cross-country with backpacking gear on foot and with excerpts of crude maps to guide their way: Donner Springs, Utah, and westward to Battle Mountain, Nevada. This is a true account how four intrepid hikers sought out what might remain of the original Hastings Cutoff, a 350-mile, 35-day sojourn that would be an exploration of a portion of the Donner Party route—east to west—that the Donner's traveled.
Survival techniques were initiated by Bergthold (former Marine Corps) which united the group into a cohesive unit. The narrative addresses a no-holds-barred account of what it's like to 'feel abandoned' on a harsh mostly uninhabited environment. Periodic humor was interjected throughout the trek to stave off days of isolation and loneliness which can create a sense of desperation.
Bergthold's narrative is authoritative and bears out his years of experience in trekking (on foot) following the various survival routes the Donner's could have taken or at least considered. The reader follows along vicariously and experiences unsuspecting trials of desert/mountain exploration. The reader suddenly experiences the personal vulnerability, and angst of being in a strange land. You discover a Donner Party wilderness; you begin to experience the hardship, which becomes survival.