2004 CNC Cracker's Neck Run
September 26-26, 2004
Mountain City, TN
Thanks to everybody who came to Tennessee to play at Cracker's Neck and Callantee Off Road Parks. Thanks to you all for your patience with me leading such a big group and getting turned around. As you saw we hit most of the main trails bu there is a ton more to explore there. Finally, thanks to everybody for buying me dinner on Saturday night! Hope you guys enjoyed the food at the Daniel Boone! And Jon, I saw you take those country ham biscuits!!!
Get to Mtn. City, TN around 4:30 pm after first meeting Sean Gross and Carey ? from the Trailblazers in Wilkesboro Wal Mart parking lot. Check in at the office, set up camp, go have dinner at the Pizza Palace, then back to camp and meet Stephen Carr who is also setting up camp. We decided to go on a night run at 9pm mainly for me to check out the trails and see if I remembered all the trailheads. We have a great time but it was sooo cold for us doorless vehicles! No real excitement about the trails because we stuck to real conservative Uwharrie type stuff except if you count the fact that Sean's budget beater Toyota is maybe down to a 1/8 of a tank of gas and is smoking like it's on fire. Get back to camp at around 11:45 pm and see Jon Loughry, Keith Douglas, Carl Barclay, Carl Rasmussen, and Craig Lewis (if I forgot anybody I am sorry) setting up camp. We chat for awhile and talk excitedly about the upcoming days events.
Friday Sept 24
Up real early! Like 4 am early because of the damn roosters! If you were there you know what I am talking about! Finally go back to sleep and get up again around 7:30 am. I go into town with Stephen, grab some chow at the Hardee's and get ready to hit the trails by 9:30 am. Make sure everyone's registered at the office, signed the waivers and got their windshield sticker. We roll and hit the Vertical trail first at the Callantee park. This is a really steep up, narrow trail with loose rocks. There are sections that require some throttle because of that looseness. Everybody got through fine with maybe the exception on Sean's beater Toyota which is smoking like it's on fire and really can't be left in gear on a hill because of the lack of decent brakes. This trail is the first of many times that we have to stop because of Carl "Chainsaw" Rasmussen's woodworking skill demonstrations. We get to the top fine and then the trail guide gets confused bcause while the map shows 3 ways out there is now 5. We take the secondmost left and find out quickly that it is actually a logging trail and there is a bulldozer coming straight at us! He tells us to back up in no uncertain terms in his best Southernese so we have drive backwards to a spot where we can finally turn around. I think everybody's neck was sore after this one. Jon was talking to the driver of the coolest piece of machinery you have ever seen, a huge log skidder with 52 inch tires! He tells us to go&;down the way he came up and that he would wait for us to leave before proceeding. Thank goodness for that because I'm pretty sure he could rolled right over my balding 33inch XTerrains and not have even noticed. We get down to the fuel tank area and Keith and I offer our services to bring logs down the mountain as well.
Next up is the Welder trail, the longest trail on the Callantee side of the two parks. We stop for lunch at the beginning of the trail and Carl B shows us how an MRE bomb works. We roll through the beginning creek section of Welder with no problem and get to the optional Waterfall. The left side of this is the bypass and the rights has narrow entrance where i proceed to stall my 2.5L engine three times trying to creep through. There are lot of logs and rocks in this part of the creek where you make many side to side sweeps leading to a big rock on the driver's side and high bank on the right side. I tried over to no avail. I tried a little right to no avail. Then I went high right on the bank (Thank Keith for the spot) and let my rocker guards slide down into the rock and pivot around the rock. If you have any fear of rocker damage then this section is not for you. After that, you are now looking a 7-8 foot tall (what did we decide guys?) waterfall. The pics don't do it justice. I started up and moved over some (thanks again Keith for the spotting) and popped right on up to big cheers and watched the photograpers scatter. Next up was Sean in his beater Toyota, now smoking like one Carl's cigars, take similar lines and pops right up the waterfall then starts to bounce like crazy. All that bouncing, combined with Sean's lack of front shocks (yes that's right), made his front driveshaft separate in two at the splines. Luckily, the splines did not twist and he was able to make it up to repair the shaft after being winched by Steve's incredibly slow Milemarker winch (was that high or low speed). Chainsaw Rasmussen was up next and he had to take much different lines because of the long wheelbase of his J10 pickup. So different in fact that he lost a valve stem on his right rear tire. Luckily for him, Jon "Toolbox" Loughry had some spare stems in his K5 Blazer. He also made it up the Waterfall after that without incident except for really bent license plate.
Thanks again to Chainsaw for his woodcutting skills and to everyone else who helped clear the Vertical and Welder trails from all the storm debris. After Welder down the Blue trail to camp and a much deserved beverages. Everyone else starts rolling in around 7:30 pm and later in preparation for the next day with the exception of Jose Villareal who couldn't figure how to get his Jeep Caddy started and didn't arrive till like 3am and was awakened by the roosters an hour later. Also thanks to Scott for bringing my wife up to TN.
Saturday Sept 25
Get up to the sound of roosters and now dogs barking at the roosters and get everyone organized and rolling by 9:30 am. I had decided that day before to take everybody to Cracker's Neck and play there. It's about 6 miles from the Callantee campground and our group is now up to 12? vehicles. We tackle Playstation 2 and the rockgarden to get everyone warmed up and come down the mountain through a creekbed downhill this time. Once again thanks to Carl R for cutting down trees and everyone else for clearing them as well. Sean was with me after deciding his smoking Toyota was to pretty to continue and leaving it at camp. We ride to the Waterfall trail and stop for lunch right before it starts to get interesting. I hear on the CB a request to move up farther because some of us are stopped in a creek. That was my intention Dustin! We make it through one at time through the crevices and rocks that like to lean you over to your side all the while fighting the water lube coming down at you. We make it through fine with the exception of my side marker indicator light, which decided to pop out after meeting with Mr. Left Bank, and Jose's front locker crapping out right when he needed it. We roll on through after some time and get to the real big Rockgarden which I helped cut down this May in preparation for the SFWDA summer convention this past June. I make farther than I have ever have before followed by Chainsaw and Scott Roberts. Scott does awesome and makes it through much of it with no problem. Who says All Terrains don't work off road? We make it to top and after much discussion about where to go (because the trail guide got confused again) we make it down to the bottom of the mountain and turn on to the Big Wheels trail. This is a short sometimes slick up hill trail which used to not be connected after the last hill climb but now is. I found out after Sean and I went up the hill which is very steep and full of turns. We get everyone turned around midway through the trail back down again. There is a great section called the Hill of a Thousand Marbles which a few of us bypassed to watch. Scott again made a great case for All Terrain tires along with Mike Care who made it look easy. Dustin, the fourwheeling veteran of the group, showed what a Rubicon on 32's was capable of with some beautiful driving. Later on that night though, Dustin figured out that he bent his tie rod in and didn't wheel Sunday. This was one of two trails that we did not complete as a group. Got everyone back together for a group photo on the big berm in the parking lot, off to camp to clean up for dinner at the Daniel Boone Inn Restaurant back in Boone. I'll just say that all complaints about going all that way for dinner were squashed by the second bite of the first country ham biscuit.
Sunday Sept 26
A small group was left today, only six vehicles around to tackle the Little Tellico trail. This is actually the shortest trail in the Park but probably the gnarliest. It reminds a lot of Lower 2 at Tellico but but not so namy really big rocks. It turned out to be very washed out due to the past few weeks of rain and proved to be the second trail which we did not complete as a group. Only Chainsaw and I finished the trail. After some great spotting by my wife Jennifer, I was able to traverse the big rock in the middle of the trail. Carl was able to after the CNC 4x4 road building team stacked a bunch of rocks around the big one to assist Carl. We finished of the day by playing in some mud holes at the end of the orange and lavender trails.
All in all a great trip with great weather and a whole bunch of really cool people. Thanks again to everybody for making it fun! Can't wait to go back up there!