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In the tradition of Rinker Buck and Ian Frazier, Will Grant goes on an extraordinary horseback excursion into the modern West – boldly illuminating America’s mysterious and complex connection to its stories past.
Inspired by the likes of Mark Twain, Sir Richard Burton, Horace Greeley, and emboldened after completing 350 miles of the Pony Express for an Outside Magazine piece, Will Grant bought a couple horses, drafted an itinerary, and set out to experience the entirety of the famed trail for himself. Oatmeal and espresso for breakfast; bagels, peanut butter, and cheese while in the saddle; and meat and cheese for dinner. Four days of travel between layover days. Grain for the horses, Chicken Fry and Badger, twice a day. An extra pair of Wrangler jeans packed into his bedroll. Grant rides the way that would draw nods of approval from the salty men who first laid tracks there and pays homage to the culture of horsemanship that so crucially defined the West. The people he encounters along the way are the same rural folks we’ve all heard about in the media but rarely get the chance to meet. They give anecdote and experience to the effects of climate change, the shortage of ground-and-surface water, the growing need for metals and energy sources, and the ongoing dialogue between the federal government, states, and private citizens. In living the lionized history of the Pony Express, stretching from its inception in 1860 to the present day, Grant unlocks the story of how modern rural America came to be and where its uncertain future might lead. His journey is one of personal challenge, horseback travel, and high adventures on the plains. But what ultimately emerges in not only an unparalleled portrait of the American West today, but a necessary examination of what defines us as Americans.
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