Recently retired from a career as an academic, Hal Robertson has become increasingly disenchanted with the values that have emerged in American society over the past few decades and is seriously considering a move to Europe to live out the coming years. A gnawing uncertainty, however, compels him to ponder this inclination during a week of backpacking in Washington's North Cascades. There, as he wanders through the magnificent Pasayten Wilderness of the Okagan National Forest, he contemplates his impressions of life in Western Europe and his discontents with contemporary America. A consideration of the pervasive influence of Corporate America, competition as a divisive influence in American society, and consumerism as the new American religion leads him to examine the role of religion itself and that of science as its perpetual foil. This propels him toward an exploration of cosmology, the nature of human consciousness, and the meaning of artistic creativity as a defining characteristic of human beings that simply defies any materialistic, reductionist explanation. Finally, he reviews his own values according to what experience and observation have taught him and leaves the wilderness kwing t only what he will do, but what he must do.
Craig H. Bennett is a retired college professor with degrees from Ursinus College and the Johns Hopkins University. He has also been, at various times in his life, a professional musician and an on-camera and voice-over performer. In 1984 he participated in an expedition into the dry tropical wilderness of northeastern Brazil in search of the ruins designated by Col. Percival H. Fawcett as Raposo's city. He has traveled widely in the countries of Western Europe and has visited Romania, the former Soviet Union, and Brazil. A number of hiking excursions in the Alps and a backpacking trip in the North Cascades provided him with the narrative background against which his character sifts through a wide variety of ideas and impressions before reaching his decision.