After countless technical issues – a catastrophic water loss, faulty equipment, and broken vehicles, among other things – the tree planters put their first trees of the 2013 season in the ground.
The contract is a somewhat unusual one. Massive forest fires devastated large areas of northern Alberta in previous years, and the planters have been tasked to reforest the area. The blocks are covered by the charred remains of burnt trees, which weave together and make moving through the land a sharp and dirty nightmare. The planters are constantly getting poked in the eyes by the skeletal trees, and they are coated in ash and charcoal from constantly rubbing against the blackened branches. The moving is very slow, frustrating, and often painful. The temperatures soar to unseasonable highs and many planters, unused to the elements so early in the season, are incapacitated by heat stroke and exhaustion. To make matters worse, a stomach virus spreads through the camp and many of the planters miss days of work as they are crippled with diarrhea and nausea.
Despite the adverse situation, the planters in the camp are mostly experienced ones, and morale remains high. People are starting to make money, which is what tree planting is ultimately about.