Four high school friends set out on a horseback/fishing/camping trip in the La Plata Mountains of Southwestern Colorado. Their leader is Cliff Kelley. He has agreed to take his friend Carl Edmonson, who has Asperger's Syndrome, fishing. Their mutual friends Tim and Bruce ask to join them.
Carl is lacking in how to react to social interactions, but he is a scholar and can learn languages, music and math rapidly and at advanced stages. Around the evening campfire he offhandedly tells his friends that he has read a journal in the original Spanish that a scouting party of Coronado had once advanced as far as one of the canyons of the Dolores River where they were camping. There they had been massacred by local natives. They had been carrying what was believed to be ancient Aztec treasure from from the Ancient Puebloan ruins modern archaeologists call Chaco Canyon.
As the boys advance into the canyon tributaries of the Dolores River, they begin looking for landmarks that Carl tells them the journal mentioned.
They fish for rainbow trout, pan for gold in what had once been the heart of SW Colorado 1859 gold rush country, hunt and speculate on where the Coronado scouting party might have crossed the divide into the Dolores watershed.
And all the while the spirit of Kokopelli is watching them from the slope above their final camp site!
He is not the only one watching the youthful campers. Another treasure hunter is watching and is not happy with their presence.