For their November campout, the scouts of Troop 422 were treated to an unusual experience, as they camped at the Royal Blue Wildlife Management Area in East Tennessee. From a viewing tower near their campsite, the scouts were able to watch elk that have been reintroduced into the mountains of East Tennessee in the last several years. Although the weather was chilly atop the mountain, the scouts had an incredible time.
Royal Blue proved to be worthy of the long drive. Arriving late Friday night, the scouts quickly setup camp in the dark, but admiring the clear skies kept most awake til well after midnight. Constellations, planets and even shooting stars were noted.
Their short night was interrupted very early as they arose to a hushed predawn hike to the mountain top using the moon to light their way. They used a thermal imaging scope to view elk in nearly total darkness. Finally the sun rose majestically offering warmth to a chilled troop. The elk were awesome. Coyotes played amongst them.
Returning to camp the scouts prepared hot breakfasts by Patrol ranging from blackened eggs to the world’s biggest pancake. Daytime activities included PWD type downhill racing on shovels, knot tying, direction finding, and individual wildlife appreciation time. As SPL, Russ guided the troop in the Patrol method and later as Chaplain, he conducted the devotional on the mountaintop elk observation platform. As they hiked back, the troop cleaned the well-used trail in appreciation for this unique wilderness.