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Unread 10-26-2011, 11:09 AM   #1
awillard69
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Gateway to the Cumberlands Jeep Jamboree 2011

Once again, I attended this event in Williamsburg Kentucky.

This year, the weather played a part by raining for the few days prior to the start of the event. I encountered rain pretty much all the way down from Streamwood IL as the weather system pretty much just sat over the midwest. The rain system moved on out about the time registration began leaving the area wet.

I headed over to the inspection and trail sign up. There I met up with participants I've met over the years and we exchanged brief updates and enjoyed the food - burgers, dogs and Blue Grass music.

Since it had been raining for the past several days, the trails would be muddy, slick and any water crossings would be deeper than typical.

For day one, I chose the Commando trail, normally rated 5/6, but a bit higher (solid 6) due to the soggy conditions, the weather was clear, breezy and a high in the 60's. This trail weaves back and forth between Kentucky and Tennessee. The conditions were not as bad as it was a few years back where it was raining during the event - the mountains do drain quickly. I ran this trail near the tail end of the line of Jeeps.



Here we are, scoping the first obstacle. The trail has some small challenges (wet conditions) in the very beginning, but this one is where it really starts. The climb is fairly steep with many ledges and the leaf cover with moist soil means traction will be a challenge for all but the very first to climb.

The trail guide made it up with little difficulty, as did several others. But as the trail became rutted and hole'd, it became ever more difficult - traction was hard to come by and it required copius throttle.

One Jeeper with 35's and a new locker was flogging it up the climb and making progress when he began to hop. He stayed in the gas until... well, you guessed it - SNAP! (Sorry, no pictures, but you've seen this before) We used his winch to lower his rig down the hill and on to some flat ground. We jacked up his rig, pushed in the axle, and lashed 4" tree to hold it all in - then called for recovery while we went on.

The conditions on this first real climb were such that from this point forward each Jeep climbed as far up as they could safely go on one or two attempts, then it was strap time. Often 2-3 straps and 2 Jeeps to reach and pull each rig over the crest. Just so you know, by this time the conditions were very slick, so even a more aggressively built rig had to be pulled up. This was easier than having to recover another broken rig.







We proceded to the narrow portion of the trail, basically a narrow two-track trail down amongst some trees with tight conditions, off camber obstacles and slick conditions. In the bottom of the valley there is a rock ledge to climb up and proceed up towards the lunch spot. Walking up to see it was a challenge as conditions were slick and places to walk few. I made the walk to see that one participant had tried to climb the ledge only to have slid off and down hill. Attempts to self recover the Jeep managed to work further and further down hill where it came to rest on mostly flat ground. The guides and fellow Jeepers began piling rocks and timber under the tires as the driver made several attempts to get it up the hill from there. (Again, sorry, no pics)

We lunched on the trail at the scenic overlook, I've posted those pictures in other event posts so I didn't take any more this time.

We proceded on after lunch, climbing the mountains on heavily rutted and slick trails. The sun was drying up the trail and it was a bit easier to navigate but you still needed to pay attention. I lapsed in this while navigating some ruts and fell off, only to end up turtled - one limitation of 30's. A quick tug and I was on my way.



We ended the day at the land owners barn, a locally renowned "business man", and several participants showed "interest".

Finally, the road back to base and dinner.

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Unread 10-26-2011, 11:11 AM   #2
awillard69
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For day two, I selected Bridge Rock, normally a 5/6, but the conditions were more like 6/7. The weather was to be clear and sunny, with temps in the 70's. This trail also meanders the Kentucky/Tennessee border all along its route. I was in the middle of the line for this trail.




Morning fog as we set off for the town of Jellico TN.




This trail starts off with an obstacle not 20 yards from the paved road, a nice climb over a wet hump of rock.... and only continues up a climb that is probably fine in dry conditions, but with it wet and churned up from day one, it was much throttle control and maintaining momentum.




After the climb, we encounter a ravine that must be crossed. Without lockers this requires a bit of momentum - this was a recurring theme of the day, too.







The views from the ridge were spectacular and any pictures don't really capture what's in my memory.
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Unread 10-26-2011, 11:13 AM   #3
awillard69
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Still before lunch, the trail makes a climb where you must pass between two large rocks going up hill. I passed my camera to the Jeep ahead of me so they could document my passage, one problem with solo trips. Don't let the angle fool you, it is uphill all the way and slippery. My "Little Jeep that could" made it through almost too easily. Not having larger tires and lift meant I neatly tucked in without even slowing down.



You can see how a different rig makes it look.

We stopped at the trails namesake location, Bridge Rock, for lunch. This is a very nice location for a lunch break and worth seeing on this event.




After lunch, we proceded down the mountain into a creek. The creek was not deep, and had many narrow passages between huge rocks. My camera was acting up for most of this section, so my pics are sparse... but my memories are plentiful, and this is a nice and scenic drive. Again, due to the narrow conditions, higher build rigs had to maneuver carefully to avoid damage to their tops... but not me!






We climbed out of the creek and went on up the mountain again. It was a bit of a white knuckle climb as the trail is strewn with rocks, leaves and generally wet conditions. Steady throttle and momentum were key, again open axles presented challenges.





We ended up at the final section of the trail, a river crossing and scenic route. They group from day one never made it to this point due to their slow progress. When we arrived, however, the river was still too high for the group to safely maneuver. Yes, my TJ is small but I was not the only one who was not "up in the air".

We turned around and went back top the main road, back through Jellico and back to base for a Jeep wash and dinner.

At dinner, one female Jeeper wrote a song on the trail (Commando) about the event and actually sung it during dinner. What a unique treat that was. Maybe somebody posted it to YouTube.

Overall, this was a very enjoyable event for me. I commented repeatedly about how the conditions, while wet, were pretty much perfect. Had it been dry, the challenges would have been fewer. It was not so wet that it was so tough that you don't make any progress. Clear skies and nice sunshine made for a very nice adventure.

This event is definitely on my 'do again' list.
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Unread 10-26-2011, 08:06 PM   #4
Jeffro06
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Very nice.

These events look like fun, I should try one some day.
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Unread 10-27-2011, 05:53 AM   #5
awillard69
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This is a good, well run event. You should consider it.
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Unread 10-27-2011, 10:33 AM   #6
awillard69
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Here's the link to the song as performed... enjoy

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Unread 10-27-2011, 11:41 AM   #7
wdw
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Anthony it was a pleasure to run two days with you. Very nice pictures. I do not think a lifted jeep had anything to do with the trails. I was up front both days and seen big Jeeps have trouble, than you came along and showed them up.

I had a great time and always nice to see friends I have made on the Jamborees.
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Unread 11-01-2011, 09:19 PM   #8
footypaul
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Glad you enjoyed your visit to our neck of the woods. I've never made it down to this particular area. But the whole Cumberland Plateau is beautiful in the fall.
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Unread 11-02-2011, 07:34 AM   #9
awillard69
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Quote:
Originally Posted by footypaul View Post
... the whole Cumberland Plateau is beautiful in the fall.
That is indeed a fact. This year it was in perfect color.
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