Wilderness Perspectives

Boisterously Quiet Beauty

Dec 1, 2021
Kristen Neumann
Boisterously Quiet Beauty
Misty Boundary Waters

As an English major, I tend to be full of big words (and of myself), but I have always found the Boundary Waters to be a place that is utterly indescribable. Since I was five years old, the Boundary Waters has been a sacred safe haven for me. I have been on 14 different trips since then, all with different intentions. Due to the vastness of the Boundary Waters, visitors are able to go on a lifetime of trips; all with different intentions. Some trips have been done with the intent to cover as much area as possible, like our Little Indian Sioux Loop trip. Others have been to catch as many fish as possible. Still others have been purely for relaxation purposes and to take as many gorgeous pictures as we could. However, I most significantly view the Boundary Waters as a sacred place of protection and peace for all who enter. It offers a break from our civilized reality and gives its visitors a glimpse into the wild, uninhibited, unadulterated beauty of the wilderness. If we take a moment to stop and think about the true impact of this experience, we can see that this place deserves our lifelong protection. Everything that it currently exists as is more valuable than any monetary rewards that a mine could potentially offer.  

I recently had the opportunity to take Environmental Ethics at college. During this course, we spent a lot of time discussing the intrinsic value of nature. Why is it worthwhile? I have concluded that all of the wild places we have left on this Earth have extreme intrinsic value just based on their existence. They don’t need to have monetary value to be “valuable.” Our forests and wild places are disappearing at an alarming rate because we value profit over nature. This is wrong. We need to keep our wild places, wild.  

Recently, I went on a powerful trip to Lac La Croix with a roommate. At the end of the trip, before picking up the canoe for the final portage, I turned and looked at the woods and water in all of its boisterously quiet beauty. The beautiful paradox of the wilderness; its beauty is so quiet it’s almost deafening. As I willed my eyes to stop watering, I said silently, “Thank you. I’ll be back very soon.” 


A week after returning to “real life,” my roommate sent me a text that simply said, “Do you ever just think about the Boundary Waters and cry?” My answer was easy; of course I do. There are no proper words to begin to describe the emotions that the Boundary Waters evokes. For many, it is a solitude; a home that is so special it is only visited occasionally. Many promise to be “lifers” but the honest truth is that life is tricky and doesn’t always honor promises. Families change, kids grow up, and parents grow older and separate. Our lives are in constant motion, and you never truly know when “next time” will be. 

However, our fight isn’t for the “next time.” Our fight needs to be ensuring that there will always be the possibility of a “next time.”