& Eileen Reynolds make the initial approach into
Lower 2's Rock Garden. Their well-equipped TJ sports
ARB's, Atlas II Transfer Case, MT Claws and had just
gotten back from the Rubicon the week before.
& Cissy Lancaster bought this '82 CJ-7 brand new
19 years ago. The Jeep was once Cissy's everyday vehicle.
This SOA "grocery getter" now sits on 4:88
dual Dana 60's, 38.5 inch bead-locked SX's, and changes
gears via an NP435 tranny.
Baucom leads the way across Fains Ford in her tricked-out
hot pink TJ. This competition-ready Jeep sees duty in
the Goodyear/Skyjacker Extreme Rock Crawling Nationals
with Cathy at the wheel. With Tera 60 high pinion axles,
ARB's, 6" RE lift and a custom JeepBox that houses
the fuel cell.
in the southern reaches of the Great Smokey Mountains, on
the North Carolina/Tennessee border, the Upper Tellico ORV
area is famous for the best 4x4 trail riding east of the Rockies.
Helicopter Pad, Guardrail, The Rock Garden, Slick Rock &
School Bus all conjure up visions of vertical walls, huge
boulders and steep hill climbs with just enough muddy rocks
to really make things interesting.
& The Off-Road Connection hosts three annual off-road
events here each year. We joined them and about 40 other folks
for a healthy dose of Southern hospitality at their recent
Summer Sizzle Trail Ride this past August. Event headquarters
were at Crawford's Camp, which is unlike any campground that
we have ever seen. This place was built with the 4x4 crowd
in mind! It's the only campground that we know of in the world
that has a completely outfitted repair shop on-site. Features
like wooded primitive and full-hookup campsites with picnic
tables, hot private showers, coin laundry machines, ice, LP
& unleaded gas, firewood and a bonfire pit are sure to
spoil the folks that are use to camping on a muddy rock along
side of the trails at Tellico.
Crawford didn't stop with just these amenities. He built a
50-yard long "Rock Garden" right smack dab in the
middle of the campground with boulders ranging from 2-4' tall.
Now you can tear up your rig in front of everyone and never
have to leave camp! Don't worry if this happens to you, though.
When we arrived on Thursday afternoon, there were already
a couple of rigs in Steve's shop getting a front axle shaft
and a drive shaft u-joint replaced due to playing on the rocks.
The shop would prove to be a popular place before the weekend
was over as folks gathered around inside to escape the rain,
down a few cold beverages and offer advice to the ones wrenching
and welding their prized posessions back together.
in the South is supposed to be hot, muggy and dry. Well, it
was hot, muggy and wet, which added a notch or two to the
already difficult trails. Out west, low gears, 36" tires
and "crawling" is the way to go. Here, a heavy right
foot, rubber in the 38.5 - 44" range and big motors launch
vehicles up the sloppy Tellico rocks in a pinball-like fashion.
Everywhere we looked we saw Dana 60's, 14 bolts and even an
unknown big axle (Eaton we think) under these rigs!
types ran the gamut from 2000 TJ's to the ever-present CJ's,
cab trucks (locally called hybrids) to an Early Bronco with
a Chevy 454 wedged under the hood. Some of the rigs looked
like they just rolled out of the paint booth, while others
were held together with "gorilla" welds (ugly, but
strong) and bailing wire. None, however, were afraid to bounce
them off the rocks and banks as they clawed their way up the
up into two groups with Dan Moore (aka The Lunatic Trail Leader)
in charge of the extreme bunch and Keith Bailey from Tellico4x4
leading the more sane riders. Dan took us straight to Trail
12, which is known as School Bus. There are two legends on
how the hill got it's name. One is that a couple of crooks
escaped from the local jail and the only vehicle that they
could find was a school bus which they drove up the mountain
as far as they could before abandoning it. The other story
is that some hunters pulled an old bus up the mountain to
use as a hunting camp. Whichever, if either were true, we'd
give the price of a new set of Boggers to watch them do it
MORE MORE! --->>>