Dr. Simon Davies - or Sim, as he prefers to be called - is an ecologist studying the impact of the agrochemical industry on purportedly pristine environments. He has been awarded a small grant to perform field research in the California Sierras. Along with his young aide, Lorenzo, and guided by two backcountry horsemen, Barry and Julian, he'll venture into the forest in search for knowledge.
"A tall, but slender pine visibly swayed from little breeze, which, along with an oddly satisfying creaking sound, convinced Sim the tree was due to fall soon. How soon is soon relative to the life of a tree? Sim asked himself. Is it a few hours, or it could it be years? Would a tree creak like that if it still had years to stand? He knew he couldn’t answer these questions, but he wasn’t going to bother looking up an answer. He felt that there was an inexplicable sort of satisfaction that came with not having the answers."