LAND ROVER EXPEDITION AMERICA: UPDATE 1
Land Rover Expedition America is continuing its’ journey across the United States off-road. The expedition began with a successful start last week.
When Land Rover Expedition America (LREA) reaches the Pacific coast in late August, the group will have crossed 10 states, four time zones and two major mountain ranges on a series of linked trails called the Trans-America Trail.
The expedition’s start point was the Smoky Mountains last Friday afternoon, when four LR4’s rolled out of the Land Rover Experience Center at The Biltmore Estate in Asheville North Carolina.
“It’s a great place to begin - straight from the Land Rover driving school onto a succession of amazing mountain trails,” said Expedition Leader and former Camel Trophy veteran Tom Collins.
The expedition is using standard Land Rover LR4’s, fitted with factory accessory winches and roof racks. Each car is crewed by three drivers and navigators with a goal of driving 13 hours each day on average.
Swathed in low cloud, the North Carolina tracks were quickly replaced by those in Eastern Tennessee. Outside Tellico, Tennessee - the start point for motorcyclists doing the Trans-America Trail - heavy rains turned forest roads into streams and turned streams into fast-flowing currents.
Off-road motorcycle riders who gathered in Tellico were intrigued to meet the LREA crew. There is, as yet, no record of a four wheeled vehicle having successfully made the full crossing to Oregon.
To find a network of dirt trails and attempt such a trans-continental trip in the 21st Century is remarkable in itself. “In Tennessee the parts of the Trans-America Trail are increasingly being paved,” explained Collins. “Who knows how long it will be before other states do the same with their unsealed roads. This is an expedition with a shrinking environment as its challenger.”
Drivers will rotate duties regularly, and the tiring, long and challenging days mean the crews have to pace themselves. The teams will be carrying emergency supplies and team members are trained in rescue and emergency medical care. The remoteness of the route dictates that satellite phones are required.
Mississippi, Arkansas and Oklahoma are the next destinations on the second week of Land Rover Expedition America. The route runs past Clarksdale, a historic center for Blues music, and will then cross the Mississippi River.
From the South the route will emerge onto the endless horizons of the plains states. The route across Oklahoma traces the southern border of Kansas for miles.
“If it’s not clear already, the next week will show the sheer enormity of this undertaking,” added Collins. “The U.S. is a big place, never more so than when you are crossing it on dirt.”