Hello my name is Glenn R. Viveiros, a.k.a. Depdog.
- Article/photo's courtesy of:
- Glenn R. Viveiros
This is my first time at writing any kind of story or publication, so please bare with me…
On October 1,2, and 3 of 1999 myself and a couple of friends (Clint Hunter (who did most of the photography) and Shawn Walker (drives a, um, er JEEP, which we did the spring over lift on.) went to Tellico OHV park. For those of you who have never heard of the park, it’s in the Natahala National Forest, just above Murphy NC.
We just happened to go on the same dates as the 13th annual Dixie Run was being run at Tellico. Tellico is the Moab/Rubicon of the South. It offers mud, great trails, and some awesome rock crawling although it’s more of the slippery granite kind than slick rock. It takes a different kind of set up here than most rock crawlers are used to. You need some wheel speed to get over some obstacles rather than super low gears, but sometimes you need them as well. You must also not be afraid of a little body damage if you run the more aggressive trails. There are jagged rocks and tree roots sticking out all over. Not to mention the errant low hanging limbs and trees that sometimes fall across the trails.
Well we were supposed to leave by noon on the 1st, but you know how that goes, last minute fabrication and fixes so that your rig is trail worthy. I had to finish my tire rack/gas can carrier on the K-5, we also had to finish making Shawn’s rear shackle mounting brackets and get them mounted, so that we could pull him from the rear if need be. It aggravates me to no end to go on a ride somewhere and be held up by somebody who got stuck by trying to do something that their rig is not set up to do and then not having a way to get unstuck when they either break or fail. Well, we finally left at about 4:30 in the afternoon and it took us about 4 hours to get to Tellico from Stockbridge GA. Taking into account we had never been there and stopping for gas and food, not to bad at all.
We arrived at Tellico via Davis Creek Road, which incidentally turns into trail 1. When trail 1 dead-ended we were at the intersection of trails 1 and 6 and the road that leads to the County Line Camp Ground. There were people everywhere, rail buggies, jeeps, hybrids (basically a 1 ton truck frame and running gear with just a mini truck cab in the middle and 44 inch tires, no need for suspension lift as there are no fenders). After looking around for a few minutes, we found some very neighborly folks who offered to let us camp beside them.
Since none of us had ever been to Tellico before, the thought of a night run was not too appealing, so we pitched camp and crashed for the night.
Around 7:30 a.m. we were up and cooking breakfast, people were all over the place making last minute repairs to their rigs and airing down tires. We aired down our own and made sure everything was tied down and away we went. Since it was the Dixie Run weekend, I knew there would be about 2 to 3 hundred people on the trails and that most of them would be headed for the NASTY STUFF, we did not want to be caught up in the traffic, not to mention we were both fairly inexperienced at this level of trails, so we opted for the more difficult trails rather than the most difficult ones. First up Saturday morning was Trail 6, rated as more difficult. About 30 feet up the trail, I high centered the rear diff. with the front tire firmly against a 2 foot tall vertical rock, no forward progress, so out came the Highlift and stuck a rock under the left rear tire, backed up and away we went. We let 2 small groups that were experienced with this trail and were on the way to a rather nasty one that branches off of it take the lead ahead of us.
The local built rigs are phenomenal, they take Jeep Cj7, Cj8, and Scouts, not to mention Blazers and Broncos, put in 1 ton and sometimes bigger running gear monster motors and hack the fenders to the max, add 44 inch Boggers or Swampers to minimum suspension lift and there you go, instant trail machine. Almost all of them have no regard for body condition; I have seen Demolition Derby winners with more straight body panels. The first group that passed us had a monster Scout and a K-5 that did not have a straight body panel on it, I was amazed that the doors opened and closed, they were both members of the Atomic City Four Wheelers from TN. Trail 6 had some rock gardens and quite a few very steep turns, not to mention some optional challenging outcrops of rocks.
We took trail 6 to the intersection of trails 6,4, and 7. Trail 7 is called (I don’t know why) the Peckerwood Connector by the locals. When we got to the intersection it had a short, sharp downhill with a 90-degree turn to go to trail 4 or go left to trail 7. We opted to check out 7, about 300 yards into the trail you have to get by a blown down tree (not much room between the top and the tree) then after another 200 yards is a bridge that crosses a creek. This bridge looked very rickety to say the least, but hey, Shawn was in the lead in the Jeep now, heck give it a shot man. He was across as fast as he could go. Once on the other side he called me on the radio and told me I might want to walk over here first.
Once on the other side and around the corner, traffic jam, all the people that we had let pass us earlier in the trail were lined up on top of a pretty nasty rock garden that was going up hill and doglegged, first left then right. Once we got past the second dogleg we found the problem. Right in front of us was a 4 foot vertical rock and mud wall, and you could not hit it at a straight on approach, no matter how much maneuvering you did, your passenger tire was going to make contact first, not to mention the incline of the trail we were on to boot. At the bottom of the ledge was a Toyota Fj60 Land Cruiser, he had Dana 60’s front and rear with 35 inch tall Super Swampers, he had broken his left rear axle shaft and blown the bead on that tire. The trail leaders had the rig secured with a winch cable and were using a high lift to get the tire off the ground to air it back up. Another Jeep then drove down the trail so that they could use his air compressor to air up the offending tire. Once this was done, he backed up the trail; the trail leader just shook his head and said, "It takes a bad man to back up Peckerwood".
Shortly after that we turned around and headed back as they had some more problems and Shawn did not want to take the chance on damaging his Jeep, he had no rocker protectors. We came back to the trail intersection and went down Trail 4. After finishing trail 4, we left the OHV area to go to the Dixie Run Camp Ground so that we could take a look at the vendors that were set up. On Sunday, we got up a little earlier, so that we could get on the trails before most of the traffic. Coming out of trail 4 on Saturday, we were leading a few broken rigs and ran into awful traffic. Everybody should have the experience of putting a K-5 and another full size K-10 past each other on a trail made for a Jeep, to say it was harrowing did not do it justice. You have to see how high up on the mountainside you are on some of these trails to believe it; pictures do not do it justice. First on the agenda was Trail 5, a short but nasty little trail with a creek crossing and some nasty rock ledges. Granite is very slippery with wet, muddy tires. All the way up the trail at each obstacle you come to you can see where the trees have taken revenge on body panels. At the creek crossing I slipped off a large rock and landed on my rear diff and drive shaft. Neither tire was touching so out came the snatch strap and after pulling it about 2 inches to get a tire to touch I drove out of it.
Next up was a small rock garden and then a 2 foot high rock ledge that sloped to the left with a couple of trees to either keep you from going over the edge and plummeting down a 100 foot high cliff, or to eat your fender, door, or quarter panel, depending on how you look at it. We made it up and over without incident and Trail 5 then hit trail 4, you can go to the right and out towards trail 1 or to the left and towards trail 8 and the Peckerwood Connector, we went left.
The first major obstacle you come to is Fains Fjord, have no idea where the name came from or even if I am spelling it right. It is a creek crossing that has a 2 to 3 foot high vertical wall to climb, depending on how many rocks you can stack, once on top you can go to the right (the easy way) or hard left and up another steep rock stair type ledge, guess which way I went! On the way out the day before a First Generation Bronco had destroyed his rear drive shaft as well as crushed a rear suspension block climbing the same ledge, I on the other hand had no problems, as a matter of fact I had to back around the easy way and climb it again to get it on video, cause my camera man went running for his life the first time (I was no where near him Honest).
After that, we took a quiet ride through the rest of Trail 4, and then up to Trail 7 again. I was going to winch up it and then back down. As we got around the dog leg that leads up to the ledge, there were about 5 A.T.V’s on the trail with one that had broken a winch cable and rolled down the ledge, nobody was hurt thank the lord, but a Polaris 4 wheeler was history. It started to rain a little and as I did not want to be here when it rains, we high tailed it out of there and went back down Trail 6 and back to the campground area. That was the end of our ride for this trip and we headed home.
Hope you enjoy the pics as much as I did and I hope that my narrating was not too awful.
See Ya on the Trail… Glenn