Cowan in February

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     The day started early – too early. We left the house at 5:30 am & got to Monteagle a little before 7:30. There was already a large crowd gathered behind the Smokehouse, and there would be more already down in Cowan. After about fifteen minutes, we got in line & headed down the mountain to Cowan, where we were to meet the rest of the group.

     There was some delay in getting started, mainly due to the large turnout we had. Although a large group was expected, between the 3 clubs in attendance as well as a few others we had close to 40 vehicles. It was decided to split into 3 groups to get things moving a little easier. One group was to head off up the Goat Track and hit a few obstacles along the way. The other two groups would stagger & hit the trail we had scheduled to run. The plan was to eventually meet up at the Tunnel climb and play there before calling it a day.

     I was in the second group to hit the main trail. Right from the start it seemed we were plagued with little gremlins. On the first real obstacle my starter went on strike, making me take a few minutes of rest. Eventually it hit again, and I was able to make it up and out of the way. Louie was next and had a bit of a time with it when one of the front hubs decided to not stay locked. He was able to winch forward and out of the way also, and had the hub replaced in less than ten minutes. After this each vehicle continued to attempt the obstacle, with some of the more stock vehicles having a pretty rough time.

     With such a large number of vehicles in our group, it was hard to keep up with what was going on in the back of the line. Intermittent CB transmissions let us know when everyone was caught up & the front could start moving again. We hit a few more minor obstacles along the way, but the day was pretty uneventful until we came to the Bald Spot.

     There is a steep rock face climb at the bottom that that scary in a short wheel base vehicle. About half of the group chose to play on this on the way up to the climb up the Bald Spot. Several vehicles put on a show here, with David Lepp trying hard to repeat the now-famous Tellico roll. He was able to maneuver his way out of the situation and climb the hill with a little of the skinny pedal. Brian Boyd put on a show of power in his Willys pickup, clawing his way up the difficult right hand side. At the top he tried very hard to run over me and his video camera while I was taping, but I managed to jump back and out of the way. Brian – when you say you are going to the right, stay to the right!

     Jimmy P also attempted to roll on this little climb. It was pretty scary seeing a big purple Ramcharger on 44’s get sideways like that. I was almost sure it was going to roll, but a little work and he took a side line up and over. Several others attempted the climb, with some walking right up and others having to dig for the right line.

     This is where we met up with the other group, and we all headed off towards the Tunnel. This was a pretty uneventful section, mostly downhill and not too difficult. Once we were at the bottom, we switched over and took a more difficult trail up to the Tunnel, one that I had never been on. A few tried the first climb at the bottom, but it was too much. David Lepp shattered a nerf bar – something I didn’t know could happen. Louie tore a step off while winching at the same spot. Brian in his Hummer was the last to try it, and had to turn around near the top or face major body damage. There was one more ledge on the trail, and Ed Lester in "The Toyota formerly known as Chucks" made a good climb here. On the bypass I attempted a washout without any luck, while Doug in his newly refined TJ made quick work of it.

     Once we all made it to the Tunnel, it was time to sit back and watch some of the vehicles attempt the climb. I think almost everyone who tried made it, but they all had at least 33’s and F&R lockers. This climb is not easy by any means – it is about 100 yards long, straight up a hillside with basketball and larger size boulders all along the way. Did I mention the numerous ledges along the way? Did I mention the spring at the bottom that feeds a muddy area to get your tires nice and gummed up just before you start the climb? Fun…

     After watching a few vehicles make the climb, some of us decided it was time to eat, so we said out good-byes and headed towards Waffle House. We may have thought our day was over, but we were wrong. Even on the graded Goat Track we had Sweeney’s truck blow a tire and Mulch Boy killed a rear pinion yoke & U joint. Sweeney’s tire was the most fun, as we got lessons in using an accelerant to blow the bead back on. Much to our dismay, a cut from the blowout could not take the pressure and gave way. On went the spare & we were ready to roll. Still, flames and loud booms were an exciting thing to witness. Mulch Boy pulled the driveshaft after his accident and drove his YJ to the Smokehouse in front wheel drive –not fun with a Detroit up there. He had a trailer ride home, so it was not that big of a problem. After some waffles and bacon, and a little push in the parking lot (remember my stubborn starter?) Kate and I were on our way home.


Here are a few pictures from the other group that we met back up with at the Tunnel.

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This page last modified 07/10/03

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