Just out of junior high school, Joe and his friend Crowbar are hired by Joe's uncle (Joe lives with him in a trailer) to run a dead man's ashes down a dangerous stretch of the Colorado River, traveling by night to avoid Park Service patrols, and to dump the urn of ashes overboard at Lava Falls. (Crowbar is of American Indian ancestry and Joe an undifferentiated white, and George makes a point of the boys not making a point of it.) But in the dumping process the boys' inflatable raft is wrecked, and after a wild ride down the falls they start climbing the cliff walls with an idea of heading for the Havasupai village they know to be somewhere about. A younger, speechless "Wild Boy" they run into shows them the way to food and water in return for Joe's show of affection; Joe and Crowbar hope the boy can show them to the village once Joe teaches him enough words, but there are setbacks due to Crowbar's impatient attempts to make a slave of the kid. After the three have lived for a while in a mini-village of their own, the wild boy does lead the others to the Supai, where he will stay with the village teacher and complete the civilizing process he is now eager to learn. Joe's uncle turns out to be a crook, indifferent to the boys' safety and concerned only with the urn--which, unsurprisingly, contained money and not dead Roland after all. George does better with the survival story and the feral child than with the dumb scheme that sets the trip in motion, but the relationships among the three boys conforms too patly to the author's own scheme, and this has none of the moving qualities of My Side of the Mountain or Julie of the Wolves.