Troop 868 in Action

LAND BETWEEN THE LAKES

(Spring Break Trip:  April 9~12, 2012)
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Each year during school spring break, Troop 868 tries to take a 4 or 5-day extended trip to go and do something that's just too far away to do on a weekend outing.  This year's trip was a visit to the LAND BETWEEN THE LAKES.  LBL (as it is called locally) is a relatively narrow strip of land that runs north-south between Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley in southwestern Kentucky.  Both lakes were man-made by the construction of dams for flood control.  One project was overseen by the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) and the other by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.  The "land between the lakes" is now a national recreation area.  LBL is home to an amazing variety of wildlife, including bison (buffalo), elk, and bald eagles.

We departed Shepherdsville early on Monday morning and arrived at LBL shortly after noon.  We camped in the public campground at Lake Energy not far from the Nature Center and the ruins of an old iron-making furnace.  On Monday afternoon we visited the Nature Center.

On Tuesday, we hiked the 11-mile Canal Loop Trail that begins and ends at the north Welcome Center.  We had expected the hike to only take about 4 hours, but we had several younger scouts along who didn't walk as fast as the more experienced hikers.  This slowed us down, but everyone finished and that's what mattered most.  Seeing new scouts who have never before hiked any significant distance complete their first hike is always special and well worth the extra time required. On the drive back to our campsite, we stopped to tour the Center Furnace and learn how iron was smelted back in the mid-1800s.  We also learned how charcoal was made.

On Wednesday morning, we drove south into Tennessee to visit Civil War Fort Donelson, one of two Confederate forts that guarded the Mississippi and Tennessee Rivers against Union invasion.  Both forts fell during the war, thus opening the way for Union troops to invade the South by water and capture strategic cities such as Nashville and New Orleans.  On Wednesday afternoon we visited the 1850s Homestead, a living history museum in the form of an 1850 farm where all the interpreters are in period costume and the farm is operated using 1850s methods and technology.  We got to see fields being plowed using a draft horse and try our hand at splitting logs.

On Thursday morning we broke camp then drove through the elk and bison prairie where we were able to see a small herd of bison but didn't spot any elk on our way to the main Visitors Center.  At the Visitors Center we saw a show in the planetarium then got to look at the sun through a telescope (using a special filtered lens).  We stopped to see the remains of another iron-making furnace and also saw some more grazing bison before we started our 4-hour drive back home to Shepherdsville.

 

Dylan, Andrew, and another scout examine a display of fur pelts. Andrew catches the photographer taking his picture.
Many of the boys enjoyed a display where they could compare their "wingspan" to the wingspan of an adult bald eagle.  Toby is pictured above at left and Gavin on the right.
Scouts listened attentively to our tour guide at the Nature Center. Crossing a bridge on the Canal Loop Trail were Noah, Adrian, Gavin, Mr. Moore, and Andrew.
For their lunch on the hike, most scouts chose to make a sack lunch in camp that morning, but a few boys carried backpacking stoves and heated canned spaghetti or Beanie Weenies to have a hot meal. (L to R):  Seated next to each other on a log are Andrew, Noah, Gavin, and Adrian.
The adult patrol's campsite was typical.  The patrols had adjoining sites in the public campground. Scouts in the Falcon Patrol enjoyed a breakfast on scrambled eggs and sausage one morning.
Gavin and Noah examine a Civil War cannon overlooking the Tennessee River at Fort Donelson. Another group of scouts watches a coal barge move upriver.
Gavin tries his hand at log splitting using a steel wedge and a wooden mallet. Noah gives it a try as Dylan, Tyler, and Preston observe.