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Wilderness Act

Cool, clean water

Cool, clean water

Wilderness areas protect watersheds vital to agriculture, communities and fisheries.

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Photo op

Photo op

Bill Cunningham poses members of his packrafting trip for a photo at the takeout above Meadow Creek Gorge.

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Loading up

Loading up

After a 70-mile trip through the Bob Marshall Wilderness earlier this month, Bill Cunningham loads up his pack for a shuttle ride from the trailhead.

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Morning wade

Morning wade

With his hiking boots hanging around his neck, Cunningham wades through Youngs Creek in the Bob Marshall Wilderness, followed by Erin Madison.

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Dinner with a view

Dinner with a view

After two hard days of hiking and packrafting, Cunningham takes a dinner break along the banks of Youngs Creek in the Bob Marshall Wilderness.

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Map study

Map study

Studying a topographic map and his GPS, Cunningham relaxes in a meadow below Hole in the Wall Cave. 

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Daybreak

Daybreak

The sun breaks over the rim of the mountains along the South Fork of the Sun River in the Bob Marshall Wilderness earlier this month.

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Mule deer

Mule deer

Wilderness areas are important habitat for species like this mule deer doe, as well as elk, grizzly and black bears.

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Lunch break

Lunch break

With a mustard packet in one hand and some turkey jerky in the other, Cunningham takes a break for a lunchtime snack along the Youngs Pass trail.

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Tiny boat

Tiny boat

Folded into a tiny packraft, Cunningham starts out his 56-mile float on the South Fork of the Flathead River drainage by launching on Youngs Creek with fellow packrafter Chris Solomon.

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Big Salmon Lake

Big Salmon Lake

Big Salmon Lake is the largest lake in the Bob Marshall Wilderness. Peaks from the Swan Range loom in the background.

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Wildflowers and smoke

Wildflowers and smoke

Wildflowers bloom in an avalanche chute in the Bob Marshall Wilderness as a haze of wildland fire smoke hangs over the mountain tops.

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Youngs Creek

Youngs Creek

Youngs Creek provided cool relief to Cunningham and his fellow backpackers as they trekked into the Bob Marshall Wilderness.

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Photo op

Photo op

Journalists Chris Solomon and Erin Madison snap photos of Bill Cunningham posing in front of the sign that marks the Bob Marshall Wilderness boundary.

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Wild Bill

Wild Bill

At age 71, Choteau's Bill Cunningham is still hard at work trekking into remote wilderness areas and advocating for the preservation of more wildlands. He marked his 71st birthday on a 100-mile trek in early July.

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Packraft

Packraft

Whitewater wasn't his cup of tea, but Cunningham still enjoyed a 56-mile float down the South Fork of the Flathead River in a packraft. To read more about packrafting, see today's Outdoors section.

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The Bob

The Bob

Cunningham has spent much of his life exploring remote areas of the Bob Marshall Wilderness. Here he outlines the route he took on a 100 mile trip in July. The scab on his left hand came from a fall during that outing.

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Fire talk

Fire talk

Cunningham, at right, talks about wilderness with his fellow packrafters, from left, Jared White, Erin Madison, Scott Bosse and Chris Solomon, while relaxing in camp.

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Beargrass

Beargrass

Beargrass blooms in an avalanche chute in the Bob Marshall Wilderness.

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Last leg

Last leg

The last leg of Cunningham's packrafting trip required a 3-mile hike out around whitewater in the South Fork of the Flathead River's Meadow Creek Gorge. Cunningham joked he was carrying 60 pounds of lightweight gear in his pack.

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