Three summers ago university students Dianne McKinley and her boyfriend, Clinton Hanson, hike a section of the Pacific Crest Trail. When they reach the Red’s Meadow Resort below Mammoth Mountain, they shower, eat hamburgers with fries and chocolate shakes, and then make camp next to Sotcher Lake a short hike north of the resort.
The lovers argue. Dianne continues the hike alone the next morning and disappears.
Last summer best friends Whitney Granger and Nancy Wakefield hike the Trail into Red’s Meadow. They meet Whitney’s father, wealthy Los Angeles businessman, John Granger, who treats them to a weekend in the expensive resort.
As Whitney and Nancy resume their trek, an armed man blocks the Trail. He shoots Nancy in the face and forces Whitney to hike to his waiting Jeep in the resort parking area.
John Granger hires the best investigators money can buy to find his only daughter. They work through the fall and winter but find no evidence. When Forest Ranger Robert Dawson mentions private investigator Dan Ballantine to Granger, he insists on a meeting.
Ballantine expresses doubt he could add anything to the investigation. When Granger asks Dan how he felt when his son, Danny, Jr., was kidnapped several years earlier, Ballantine agrees to review the file. When he finds a thin clue everyone missed, he joins the search for Whitney.