Upper Johnson Falls, Minnesota, USA by Ernesto Ruiz

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Picture Story

When I first learned of my wife’s family’s BWCA camping tradition, I made sure to make the point that I did NOT like to rough it! I didn’t want to create expectations that this air-conditioning-loving urbanite was going to turn into a carefree backwoods adventurer. It didn’t sound very appealing: you work really hard paddling and portaging all your things around, and stay at first-come-basis campsites which provide minimal facilities, while being devoured by mosquitoes. Yet now here I am, doing it.

So, what changed? I became a photographer! Suddenly I developed a newfound willingness to step outside of my comfort zone if it meant waking up to sunrise in a pristine, beautiful landscape. Not only have I survived our yearly BWCAW visits, but I’ve quickly discovered a deep fondness for the serenity of this place, which makes it feel much more remote than it is. While the BWCA is knows mostly for its beautiful and serene lakes, I was surprised to discover the beauty of this small waterfall near Clearwater Lake. Its lush surrounding frames the waterfall beautifully, and provided a perfect resting spot during a hard day of paddling!

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