Ben Weaver: Year in the Wilderness Resupply Recap

By sean higgins

Ben Weaver: Year in the Wilderness Resupply Recap

Swrve sponsored rider Ben Weaver is back with a new post recapping his recent adventure into the Boundary Waters of Northern Minnesota. Ben is an incredibly gifted singer/songwriter who has put his talents to use by raising awareness for water issues around the country via his Salsa Cycles touring bikes.

Ben’s essay is below in its entirety. It’s a great read.

I loaded my banjo, guitar and other supplies onto my bike. The roads weren’t plowed yet. Snow was falling fast, heavy and wet. Nearly five inches had already accumulated. There was no sign of it letting up. My destination was Snowbank Lake, an entry point to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in Northern Minnesota, approximately 25 miles to the North East of Ely. As I started riding into the wind, the snow flew like spears in my eyes.

My love for bicycles is immeasurable. It is my favorite way to move across the land. Bicycles are not allowed in the BWCA so once I reached the boat landing at Snowbank Lake I would be walking. I have come to understand that there are some places a bike doesn’t need to go.

Dave and Amy Freeman are living in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness for 12 months in support of the Campaign to Save the BWCA. Their aim is to raise awareness about the need to protect the Boundary Waters from the threat posed by sulfide-ore copper mining operations, from Twin Metals and others, which will pollute the pristine waters and unspoiled forests of the Boundary Waters.

Since they began their expedition in September 2015, people have brought them resupplies approximately every two weeks. This is the purpose of my trip. However, on my bike and then pulled behind me in a pulk sled across Snowbank lake, were my guitar and banjo. My resupply was going to be a little different than previous ones. I was also accompanied by Bill DeVille, a Minnesota Public radio DJ who had come along to document the resupply trip.

We began walking across the lake. After a mile or so, I heard dogs barking and off the far point of an island I could see silhouettes. Human and animal. Several yellow stakes in the ice became visible, marking the wilderness boundary. Amy was on Skis and Dave drove a small sled pulled by a three dog team.

Leaving the tip of the island behind us, the lake opened up to an abyss of white. There were moments when in any direction all you could see was white. True snow globe. We trudged the rest of the way across the lake to their camp.

For dinner we shared a pot of chill, the warm fire purring away in the wood stove at the center of the shelter. We laughed about how much better food tastes outside, after hard work and travel in challenging weather.

After dinner we gathered around the stove again in the center of their shelter. I sang songs and read them some poems. In between we talked about what makes the Boundary Waters so unique. Why we must maintain places like this on the planet where it will always be possible to hear the wind, drink water straight from the lakes, and live at the pace of the natural ecosystem.

Heading across Snowbank lake on our way back to civilization, the day stood before us, an open expanse of trees, sky, and snowscape scattered with animal tracks. There was a sense of restoration in all of our spirits. Two eagles were perched on the tattered branch of a white pine, and a third one was circling in the air above. I looked back behind me as we crossed the wilderness boundary. Dave and Amy’s camp, no longer visible, it had been absorbed back into the landscape. If you love something protect it.