When the death of the father who abandoned him is followed days later by that of Clete, the old half-Indian who worked beside him at Weed's livestock market, Sam finds that his liberating early morning runs are no longer enough to make him forget his troubles. Remembering Clete's stories of an Indian vision site in the mountains, Sam takes off, hoping to find his own vision there in the ""hoop of the world."" Sam gets more than he bargained for; lost, his food stolen by a pack rat, his ankle broken in a freak fall, he soon sinks into feverish delusions that are nearly the death of him. Nevertheless, they do bring the sign Sam has been seeking, for while limping painfully back to civilization, Sam sees a lone runner ""proud. . . and quick as a wild colt"" who epitomizes his own, half-unconscious joy in running. Mrs. Em, the retired schoolteacher who eventually rescues him, explains that this dream runner was ""inside you waiting"" all along, but Sam's euphoric, painfully earned insight needs no interpretation. His knowledge of Indian ways may be limited, but his kinship with those other boy vision seekers is as natural as was the more earthbound friendship of Dakota Sons (1972).