In this episode, Erick and the crew find solace in the Cumberland Mountains of Northern Tennessee. They start their trip at a private off-highway vehicle outfitter called Ride Royal Blue, where they jump on some ATVs to explore the park and the area. As one of the largest wildlife refuges east of the Mississippi, Royal Blue provides unparalleled opportunity for ATVing and other off highway vehicles. From steep inclines and technical trails, to gorgeous overlooks and limitless mud holes, the crew engaged in a fair bit of safe shenanigans.
In addition to the amazing scenery of this region, history and heritage still play an important role in local culture today. Erick visits the Appalachian Arts Crafts Center to learn about traditional basket weaving and the local immigrant population that led to the development of such baskets sourced from local materials.
Next stop was an overnight stay at McCloud Mountain Restaurant and Lodge, just northeast of Lafollette, which provides some of the most unparalleled views and trails in the area. While there, Erick stepped into the kitchen to sample some of their popular breakfast options, as well as see what it takes to prepare an entire menu from scratch. From biscuits and gravy to fried molasses, Erick got his fill before heading back out into the North Cumberland Wildlife Management Area for Elk Darting.
Since native Elk have been extinct in the area since the 1860’s when they were over-hunted and displaced, the Elk restoration project that began in 2000 seeks to re-establish a native, thriving elk population. Radio collars assist in tracking males as they mate and establish territory, as well as monitor the health and progress of the re-introduced population. The Uncharted Crew were fortunate enough to be asked to assist in changing the batteries in these collars - a task that happens once every dozen or so years. It was quite an honor and an experience.
Once at North Cumberland, Erick went through a training and safety meeting to prepare for the evening’s activities. Reaching sizes upwards of 700 pounds, tracking and pursuing Elk is no small task.
Through their experiences, the crew learns how the Cumberland Mountains area is rich in the outdoors, history and heritage.