We had 6 rigs and 7 guys travel from NC to KY this past weekend to wheel in Harlan, KY.
4 rigs headed up early on Friday. We all met at a truck stop and headed out around 9:30. After a few minutes on the road, we were driving in tight formations like the Blue Angels. Brian was pulling Ol Yeller on the trailer and he was leading the group. When it was time to pass, the back guy would pull out in the left lane, hop on the CB to tell them it was clear and the rest of the rigs would move over with him. Other than 1 deer and 1 small white car trying to break up our convoy the trip over was great. Weather was good, roads were good, scenery was great.
We rented the Little Inn of Harlan for the weekend. We arrived early in the afternoon and unpacked our bags. Then it was off to get our trail passes, check out the park, grab some lunch and hit the grocery store. We came back to the house, cooked some dogs on the grill and relaxed for a few minutes. After that we headed back over to the trails for a little night riding. We just took it weasy and stayed on the main trails. It was a beautiful evening and a good introduction to the area. None of us had ever been to Harlan before.
Around midnight 2 other rigs/guys joined us. They had been working, either for their employers or on the rigs, so they came later in the day. Jeff surprised us and joined Goose. He didn’t want Goose driving by himself with a rebuilt (sleeves, gussets, gears and brakes) and brand new rear axle (Super 88 with all new everything). The axles had been completed on Friday and the shakedown involved driving up and down a long driveway. We were all excited to see Jeff had decided to join us. Jason had to travel to Texas for work and could not join us. He was missed.
We got up Saturday, had breakfast, loaded up the Jeeps and hit the trails. The first obstacle we came to wasn’t even named. It just looked like a creek bed with some giant rocks in it. Some Hummers had gathered and were playing there. These guys were serious. H1s with dual winches, rear steer, lockers, etc. They easily had several hundred thousands of dollars in these 3 rigs. Overall, they were cool guys. Evidently, they thought all guys with Jeeps had a problem with Hummers. We convinced them otherwise. If you wheel it, you’re cool with us!
So we explored and wheeled most of the day Saturday. Then we took a break to get some pizza and we went back on the trails Saturday night.
Sunday, part of the group packed up and headed home. We had 3 rigs/guys that stayed Sunday and came home on Monday. We were back at it again on Sunday. We did Fish Fossil, Railbed and ventured up to the Helicopter Landing pad. I made an effort not to look at the map all weekend so I’m not sure what other trails we hit. We had Brian’s CJ/TJ hybrid with Dana 60s, 40″ Goodyear MTRs, Atlas and smallblock Chevy, Gooses TJ Rubicon with 8.8 rear axle, upgraded Dana 44 front, 33″ tires, and a set of big hairy balls behind the wheel and my 4 door Wrangler Rubicon with a bunch of bolt ons and 37″ BFG KM2s. It was a diverse group of rigs and driving styles. We pushed every rig and every driver and we had a blast!
We took a break in the evening and ventured into town for dinner. El Ranchito in Harlan, KY gets my recommendation. Maybe I was tired, maybe I was hungry, maybe it was the only Mexican place with 25 miles. I don’t know, but it was good! So we had dinner, went back to the house to rinse of the brakes and radiators, refill the coolers and headed back to the trails. I was whipped so i rode with Goose. We decided not to push too hard since we were out there on a Sunday night by ourselves. We came to a turn in the trail and a sign that read “Primitive Overlook”. We stopped to check it out. Words cannot describe what we saw. As we walked up to the overlook, the ground just dropped off. We were on the edge of a very steep cliff. Below us were tree tops and the clouds. There was a Super Moon this weekend so the moon was full and bright and shining on the tops of the clouds. The mountains were all around us and I’m guessing you could see for 20 or 30 miles. We just sat there for some time, taking it all in. It really was a once in a lifetime experience. Incredible!! We decided there was nothing that could top what we had just seen so we headed back to the house. On the way out we stoopped at an old mine shaft. Even though Goose claims that he is an “Appalachian-American”, he didn’t want to go in so Brian and I checked it out. It was blocked off so there wan’t much to see.
Monday we got up and headed home. The trip home was a little more exciting as Brian lost a trailer tire at about 70. Brian did a great job driving and got it safely off the road. I grabbed a jack from my Jeep, Goose got the lug wrench from his, Brian grabbed some blocks of wood and we went to work. Brian and Goose did the heavy lifting and we were back on the road in less than 10 minutes!!
Overall, we had a great time and we’re already talking about the next trip. Everyone’s rigs did great, no one broke anything significant, no one got punched, no one got injured and we all got home safely.
Brian, Stephen, Jeff, Daniel and Goose,
Thanks for a great weekend. I’ll follow you guys down any trail!