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July 8 ~ 11, 1999
Monteagle, TN
Sponsored by Tennessee Land Rover Association, Tennessee Off-Road, Land Rover Nashville

Trip Report & Photo Album published on the web in 1999

Camp Rover is a premier program dedicated to enhancing and promoting off-road driving tactics and skills. It is open to Land Rover owners and guests from across the country. It is a three-day program structured to teach vehicle preparation, driving, recovery and extrication techniques to drivers of varying skill levels, vehicle types and off-road interests. At Camp Rover, campers will be exposed to the ultimate off-road experience. Camp Rover features off-road instruction by some of the nations leading driving instructors and former Camel Trophy drivers, as well as, guided trail rides over hundreds of miles of trails in the scenic setting of the East Tennessee mountains, which offers some of the best off-road trails in the country. Camp Rover is designed to offer challenges for varying levels of driving skills — from beginners to veterans. And for all Lands Rover vehicles— from old Series, Discovery, Defender and Range Rovers.

Camp Rover is not just another event where owners come together and hear about the vehicle or drive a small skills course. It is truly an opportunity to learn about your vehicle — its capabilities and limitations, and how to prepare for and drive off-road by professional instructors. Campers will have the opportunity to interact one-on-one with instructors. Instruction will be given in a group setting and on a capabilities course to teach various techniques that will then be utilized driving various off-road trails. Instructors will also participate in the trail rides providing one-on-one instruction along the trails. Camp Rover ’99s lead instructor is Bill Burke, owner of 4-Wheeling America and former Camel Trophy Driver. Bill is considered one of the country’s leading instructors on off-road driving and recovery techniques.

There will also be a specially designed capabilities course set up to demonstrate various off-road situations, thereby letting you practice various driving and extrication techniques. It will also demonstrate where various vehicles accessories like suspension enhancements or winches are appropriate. The course will be staffed with counselors on Friday and Saturday during the day.

Well I must say it was GREAT....
Mimi and I left Houston Wednesday late afternoon (7/07/99) flat towing our D-90 with our Dodge Cummins to Moteagle, TN (near Chattanooga). We arrived Thursday evening and the weather was on our side no rain and cool and muggy. Soon as we pulled in the Smokehouse Inn (Best Western) Chris Velardi drove in behind us. Mimi and I being so excited to see some old friends we quickly checked in & changed our D-90 tires out with the help of Chris "V".

There was a impromptu night run so Chris, Mimi and I joined with a handful of other well set up D-90's and a Disco. It was a dirt road trail that seemed like it lasted for miles, very scenic because it was a old Railroad in the late 1800"s. Though dark we could easily see the trail cut out on both sides of the rock hill side (knowing that it was dug out by hand before the industrial revolution made it more enjoyable). We then drove up and down some hill sides & there were several spots that were a stair step.  Then we came across a long continuous mud hole, Dan N and his very well equipped yellow D-90 (The only thing different from Dan's and Greg with Safari Gard is Greg's has a decal on the door) drove through first with front and rear locked he made it look as easy a Hummer driving in the sand in Saudi. I drove behind him and realized the mud hole was a challenge especially at the end where a sharp left turn up the bank and avoiding a protruding rock to get out. The mud hole was so deep that if we would have got stuck there that mud and water would engulf the rear of the D-90. Chris "V" then showed us how to make those True Trac's shine while going thru and exiting the pit. After seeing the actual size and how messy, the others went around. We headed back to the Hotel around 1 AM.

The next morning after some breakfast and a car wash to expose the yellow again, Mimi and I saw how much time and effort Dan Nutkis and The Tennessee Land Rover Association, Tennessee Off-Road and Land Rover of Nashville put into the event. After signing in Mimi and I had to get the Rover inspected by a LR of Nashville service tech. Though I opened my hood for inspection, He stared at our orange bead locks for a while then circled #5 on our window tag. and instructed to drive the trials course behind the Hotel. I was assisted on the well set up course by a long time friend of Bill Burke Ray S.

The course was made during the week with heavy equipment and by Bill Burke, Tom Collins, and Ken Cameron (96 Camel Trophy participant). And Ray Stapell, After a watching and listening the instructional demos about winching put on by Tom C, and what spare parts to carry for off road by Bill B, the group ate a wonderful buffet style lunch at the Smokehouse conference room.

Then we grouped up with others to ride on the level 5 trail lead by Dan Nutkis and in our group was Bill Burke and Ken Cameron. The first trail obstacle was a long rocky stair step down 1700 feet. Once on the bottom we drove through the river bed and came to a large bolder about 3 ft tall the trail was narrow enough to clear but Dan drove over then I did after that we drove forward and parked to watch other try the challenge but by this time the terrain was overwhelming with obstacle and ever other vehicle of the 13 there in the group was spotting each other. Chris "V" tried the large boulder and some how got hung up and while wincing the cable snapped loose because the clutch was not properly engaged. Luckily no one was hurt, but so comical it could have made Bill B's, Unstuck video bloopers. At this time the group was strung out far enough and so I followed Dan N to "Double Winch Hill". The hill looked impossible being wet as it was. First there is a large of camber solid rock to climb then a steep almost vertical climb to the top which then intersects to the bypass trail that was also steep, off camber & muddy. I watched Dan try the first part of "Double Winch Hill". It was a good attempt but he winched to the 2nd part then it was pure dig in Super Swamper supercharged horsepower to the top half. In fact Dan was completely air-borne on top. I then tried to get up the first half but no luck it was too slippery and with no winch on our D-90 Mimi and I gave up and took the by-pass. About this time we found out Chris "V" went through a optional mud hole and blew a tire while being winched out. Then for no reason the engine quit running. Since there were several challenges going on, winching up both sides of the hill. Jim & Kyle from MO, and many others and I tried every way possible to assist the Land Rover technicians diagnosing Chris's D-90 to get it running. They checked very thoroughly over the electric's after verifying there was fuel pressure on the injector tube. But coming to the conclusion it must be the ECU. It was time for Chris to be towed back to camp while others continue the trail. It was getting late and we now had to progress up +1000 feet before it got dark. The hill was a long rutted muddy that was steep in some areas. Dan and Jim progressed up By winching up. since I had no winch I drove as far as I could at a higher speed than normal to overcome the obstacles I went up to a point when I lost all momentum then realized the ARB compressor was turned off. I was then strapped up by 3 long 30 ft straps. 4 of us progressed up the hill further then waited for the others. It was dark and the frogs made music in the night. Bill Burke assisted in winching each and every Rover up. But by this time 4 of us were on the main road, we waited then went to the lake front resort to eat dinner in which when we arrived it was very late and the food was warm and delicious, Rolling Rock beer never tasted so good.

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