The Tellico Hummer Meet
September 27-29, 1996
The Upper Tellico Off Road Vehicle area consists of approximately 8000
acres located roughly (literally!) 12 miles northwest of Murphy NC....at
the very western-most tip of the state where it borders Tennessee and
Georgia, and lies deep within the lush Nantahala National Forest. It is a
high-elevation basin formed by the surrounding Unicoi Mountains, with
elevations ranging from 2500' up to 4980'. Having been heavily but
selectively logged from about 1950 untill 1969, most of the well worn
trails are the remnants of logging and skidder trails. After the logging
operations ceased the area became increasingly known for it's rugged
off-road vehicle challenges.
The U.S. Forest Service obtained the land in 1980, and recognized the fact
that off-roaders, lacking a specific place to go, are likely to find or
make other trails at random. Thus, a planned ORV area was developed,
complete with marked and graded trails and a very well done trail
map. Several of the older redundant trails are closed off for
reforestation and preservation, but none of the trails are dead end, and
many loop back into one another.
A very dense and magically lush forest
canopy covers the entire area to the point of seeming quite dark in some
areas. We got the rain forest effect at no extra charge as it rained
Friday and Saturday....sometimes at the rate of one inch per hour.
Alhough the heavy rain and associated mini flash floods did make the trails
we traveled much more interesting, and the creek fording areas
much deeper, it also limited us to the "intermediate" trails.
The "advanced" trails required a winch, mandatory underbody protection,
trail tools and plenty of hair on your ..er..uh..back. With 40+ Hummers
divided somewhat evenly into four groups of variously equipped trucks and
variously experienced drivers the four trail leaders wisely decided on
Saturday not to tackle the advanced trails. Even the brochure warned one to
expect a certain amount of body damage, as the advanced trails contained
Rubicon-sized boulder passes.
I got a late start out....alone....on Friday and ventured off
onto Trail Four in search of one of the groups. Though I did have
distant radio contact with one of the groups it was a creepy two hours
before I met them at the connector at Trails Four and Five. Ahh....the
warm sight of other humans and Hummers. I tagged along with them on
through Trail Five to complete the day. There were a couple of occasions
on Trail Five in which I would have surrendered my Master Card for an
airlift out. I now know the real reason for the airlift hooks. And I
really know first-hand the reason for the underbody protection.
Friday evening, back at the motel parking lot in Murphy and while watching
the service team from Boomershine Hummer repair some of the trail wounds I
managed to wheedle George Knight of Thompson Hummer into letting me ride
with him the next day. With a former news photography background I really
wanted the chance to photograph the event....difficult to do and also
participate without holding up the group. George brought his '95 Turbo
Diesel Wagon, silver, and with roof rack to the expedition. Though a
little bulkier than the soft tops and also running the GSA tires, George
breezed the trails without any major damage to the truck. There were a
few moments of anal retention when I smugly pictured my Hummer sitting
safely in the motel parking lot.
For me, Tellico was my first participation in a
planned off road event.....actually much more like a four-wheel-drive
'Boot Camp'. It was cold, it was wet, stressful at times, and
physically challenging....but I learned a lot about what I can do and a
lot about the amazing capabilites of a Hummer.
And, after hitting the local Wal-Mart on Friday and Saturday evening
for clean and dry clothes, boots, raincoat, umbrella, silcone
waterproofing spray, etc,...I'll know what to pack next trip.
Hope you enjoy the photos.
Several streams leading to the Tellico River provided ample fording
opportunities as seen here at a somewhat swollen and rushing Trail 5
crossing. The higher water level and muddiness also hid the rocky
bottom.....navigation by sound and feel.
This Trail 5 teeter-totter provided a wheel raising experience for
everyone....and a prime oppurtunity to leave a paint sample or a
fiberglass fragment from the left front corner...but excellent trail
spotters got everyone through.
The infamous George Knight of Thomspon Hummer in his trademark felt fedora helps spot this new red
soft top up a rock 'stairstep'. Notice the position of the white Hummer in the background to get a
feel for the height of the climb. This particular Hummer, unfortunately
didn't have underbody protection and his rocker panels and floor pans
suffered for it.
More Tellico Photos