This edition: Deserts
Ray Mears looks at how the landscapes of America’s five great deserts challenged the westward push of the early pioneers.
As Ray travels through the cold high mountain Great Basin desert, and the hot Sonora desert of Southern Arizona, he discovers how their hostile geography and rich geology shaped the stories of fortune-hunting and lawlessness in the Wild West, and were the setting for the last wars between the US Army and the Apache warrior tribes.
Ray’s journey begins in Monument Valley whose dramatic desert landscape has become synonymous with the Wild West years. He explores how plants and animals survive in this waterless climate and how the Navajo Indian people adapted to the conditions. In Tucson he meets up with desert coroner, Bruce Anderson, who show him how the desert still kills people today. He explores how the Apache adapted their warfare methods to the desert, and how the US Cavalry struggled in the hot arid landscape. In Tombstone he gets to grips with the myths around law-makers and lawlessness and how it flourished in the remote desert regions of the Old West. He discovers how this forbidding landscape was the perfect refuge for bandits and pursues the outlaw trail to Butch Cassidy’s hideout at Robber’s Roost. His journey ends with the story of Geronimo’s surrender which marked the end of the Indian Wars, and of the Old West.