A semi-autobiographical work, The Dharma Bums focuses on the adventures of Ray Smith, an up and coming writer who is also a Buddhist and a mountain climber. Throughout the novel, Smith searches for enlightenment and attempts to live a simpler life. He meets the poet Japhy Ryder. The two divide their time between major parties at Ryder's shack and spending time in nature, climbing Matterhorn and hiking the coast. At the end, Ryder heads to a monastery while Smith prepares to spend the summer on Desolation Peak.