For those of us that seek something wilder and quieter and maybe even spiritual, there are still natural places for us to go. Tucked away from the sound, light, and air pollution of the cities we come from, such places can seem almost magical. A set of wolf tracks here, a pile of moose scat there—it reminds that you are the outsider. And a grouse that flushes from under your feet makes you emit embarrassing sounds in front of your friends. If you are stirred by pristine beauty and true forest wilderness, there’s a place I want to show you: The Boundary Waters Canoe Area (BWCA) in Northern Minnesota.

In a rugged landscape, the BWCA is a giant sweep of land (one million acres) alternating between rocky hills and swamps. And of course, lakes are everywhere you look, with modest strips of land connecting them. Multi-day canoe trips with portages are the signature attraction—paddlers crossing lakes, then hiking footpaths across solid ground till they hit water again, and the process repeats.

A seesawing pattern of protection vs. exploitation has gone on since its designation as a Wilderness Area back in the 1900’s. Currently, mining projects are once again threatening the area and the new administration seems in favor of such efforts. The future is once again uncertain.

This past November a handful of adventurous journalist/photographers teamed with me to explore and document the beauty and rarity of the BWCA in an effort to help protect it. These images are from this trip, and only touch on what makes this area so special. If you’d like to get involved, visit these organizations fighting to conserve the wild: Save The Boundary Waters and Backcountry Hunters