In case you were not aware, 3:30 AM is really to early for most human beings to function. In spite of this fact that’s what time my alarm went off on Saturday June 25th. Fortunately my excitement motivated me to crawl out of bed take a quick shower and load the jeep up with the last minute food from the fridge and clothes from the dryer. By 4:15 AM I was rolling toward Slade Kentucky on my longest overlanding adventure to date.
In September of 2013 a gentleman named Jeff posted something called the Kentucky Adventure Tour (4×4 Version) on Expedition Portal. The it’s a tour of Kentucky that includes nearly 900 miles of single lane back roads, dirt roads, and trails. In 2016 a gentleman named Travis posted a thread on ExpoPortal asking if anyone was interested in meeting up and running the trails together. Though I was unsure I would be ready, I responded that I’d be interested.
The month prior to the trip, I spent nearly every weekend in Birmingham Alabama working with my father to get my overlanding trailer ready to go on the trip. At the time my father had planned on joining, but due to a change in career he was unable to join.
Fast forward to June 25th, my trailer was hooked up and I was rolling to Kentucky for the adventure of a lifetime.
The trip to Kentucky was relatively uneventful, which I truly believe is the best type of trip when you are just trying to get somewhere.
I did get slowed down on the boarder of Tennessee and Kentucky. It seems people find their brakes when you can’t see much past your windshield.
Once I arrived at the rest area in Slade I shook a few hands and we departed almost immediately. One of the first things we came to was “The Eye of the Dragon” or Nada Tunnel. The Nada Tunnel is a 900 foot long tunnel built between 1910 and 1911. It’s just short enough that you can see daylight at the far end. I’m sure the gentleman in the FJ in front of my didn’t like me turning on my 15,000 lumen light bar for a brief second, but it sure did light the place up!
It wasn’t long after the tunnel that we found ourselves at the first downed tree. The week before our trip a series of storms passed over a large portion of Kentucky and downed a number of trees. Luckily the team from Broken Spoke Overland had a chainsaw strapped to the roof of their 4Runner. It didn’t take long to chop the tree and slide it out of the way.
During that section of trail, Broken Spoke had to pull their saw out 2 or 3 times. I’m glad someone thought to bring a saw!
For the next hour or so the trails were mild. We had occasional small trees to roll over and potholes to avoid. I was starting to wonder if all the trails would be this easy. Spoiler Alert: They weren’t!
The next serious of trails we turned off onto started getting much tighter. Being this was my first outing with my brand new trailer, I was worried about how it would do in tight spaces.
Because this section of KY received so much rain the week before our trip, the trails got quite muddy. During the next couple hours of crawling though the trails, we went through no less than a dozen water crossing, large puddles and streams. Some where deep enough to reach the sliders on my jeep. Just for reference, I’m on 35 inch tires with 2.5 inches of lift. That’s deep!
One particularly tight section of trails had walls on each side of us that reached above the top of my jeep and had approximately 1.5 to 2 feet of room on each side of my jeep. It was like diving though a drainage ditch. When the vehicles in from of me all came to a stop, and doors started opening my heart began to race. It had to be a tough obstacle, or a dead end. I wasn’t ready to back my jeep out of such a tight area! Sure enough, when I reached the front of the group I was confronted with a 4 foot drop, at a 45 degree angle to the trail we were on. I knew that as soon as the jeep started down, the trailer would side down the steep angle off the trail and flip. To say I was nervous would be a vast understatement! After walking back about 200 yards, I saw where the trail had divided and we went right. If we had stayed left, we would climb a small hill and be free. After talking it over, the two Xterra’s decided to risk the drop off, and the rest of us would back out. It took some time, but I managed to back jeep and trailer all the way down the chute and take the left passage. It was very tight, and I was impressed with how well the trailer followed the jeeps tracks. There was still a 2 foot steep decent at the other end of the trail, but it was much more mild. The trailer slid off to the right, but due to it’s low center of gravity, it didn’t roll over. By this point my confidence in my rig was growing.
After enjoying these much more exciting trails, we headed back out toward the main road and our first campsite.
With the first day of trails complete, Broken Spoke Overland was kind enough to let me back my trailer into camp with them. We sat around and enjoyed a great supper, then headed down to the water to cool off. The section of stream we choose to sit by wasn’t very deep but a little chilly. After a long hot day, it was the perfect way to relax. Around sundown we said goodnight, crawled into the RTTs and within minutes I was dreaming about the adventures still to come.