[Event Report] 2019 Smoky Mountain Overland Rally (Cosby, TN)

I was finally able to make it to Tennessee for the Smoky Mountain Overland Rally (SMOR).  This is an event I have been wanting to make since it’s inaugural event but there always seemed to be a conflict.

Home, for the weekend at least, just outside Great Smoky Mountain National Park.
It’s good to be out camping again.

Read on for my brief review of last week’s 2019 Smoky Mountain Overland Rally…

Southbound and Down

Full tank of gas and a full belly make for a good start of any road trip.
It’s not an LS powered LJ, but she’ll do the trick. 
According to GPS it’d be a pretty straight shot down I-81 for me.
Even though the weather was nice, I opted for a detour on the way down.
First stop was lunch in Bedford with the gang from Blue Ridge Overland Gear.
Can’t go wrong with a plate from Azul.
Second stop was Cabela’s.
Someone (who shall remain nameless) forgot his rain gear.

Small but Mighty

An alternate name for SMOR would be the “Small but Mighty Overland Rally.”  It was hands down the smallest overland rally I’ve been to to-date, but you know what? That’s one of the things that made it great. Despite its diminutive size, the event had a lot to offer.

Camping with a view.

Welcome meeting.

The first great offering at SMOR 2019 was the main reason I was there: the classes.  There were multiple sessions Friday evening as well as Saturday morning.  The topics covered the spectrum of overland adventure skills essential for all experience levels.

One of the classes I offered at this year’s SMOR was my “Tire Pressure Management” workshop.
Thanks to ARB USA, Blue Ridge Overland Gear, and J.T. Brooks Tire Deflators for their support.

Review: ARB Maximum Performance Portable Air Supply
Article: Tire Pressure Mangagement

Another offering that made SMOR so much fun was the ability to run trails not only in the nearby National Forest, but onsite as well.  Hosted at Deep Holler Off-Road Park, the web of trails on the property offer a lot of opportunities for rigs of all shapes and sizes.  The advantage of private onsite trails gives this event a one-up on many other events that only have access to public trails offsite.  Also onsite was a small obstacle course style trail which was great form some behind the wheel training for more advanced drivers.

Since I was rocking the Liberty for the weekend, I opted to play passenger for one of the trail rides.
Thanks to Trail Guide Derrick from Southern Xpeditions for letting me ride along.

Not uncommon to find downed trees blocking the trails this time of year.
After a little work with a Warn winch and some recovery gear the tree was out of the way.

A little hill-climb action.

Another trail; another down tree; another opportunity to work the winch.
Notice the use of the snatch block to move the tree off to the side of the trail.

A view from the top of the main hill.
Well worth the ride.

The final piece that made SMOR great was the people.  Between the attendees, instructors, vendors, and staff everyone at the event seemed to have a great time.  There was a enough room for campers to spread out into small pockets of mini-camps.  There was also a central fire-pit for people to congregate around each night.

Everyone braved the wind and rain for sunday afternoon’s raffle.
SMOR provided a grilled lunch and organized a range of prices from small to large prizes.
Title sponsors Dometic had the most conveted prize offering up a dual-zone fridge.
CVT also offered up a roof-top-tent.
I won a hat ~ yay!

Conclusion

All in all I had a great time at this year’s Smoky Mountain Overland Rally.  It’s an event I’d love to attend again next year if my schedule allows it.  I also think anyone on the east coast should make the the trip at least once.  The Smoky Mountains are an amazing area was tons to explore above and beyond the rally itself.  For that reason when I make my next trip down I will be budgeting an extra day or two before and/or after the event to do some more local exploring.

Ended up taking a detour on the way home.
Interstate 81 was fully blocked which gave me an opportunity to jump on the Blue Ridge Parkway.