Sunday, June 17, 2001
Our day began with breakfast provided with our Chimney Rock Park (CRP) package. It was delicious and it was at the reserved pavillion they had for us. After breakfast many of us loaded up in shuttles which took us to the entrance of the Chimney Rock. We took the elevator up which unloaded us at the gift shop. There is a very nice LOTM display. There were photos on the wall and the movie was playing on the television.
This, to me, was by far the most strenuous day. The climb up is grueling, but you could take your time and rest along the way. Some went in groups and others went individually, which was fine because we all eventually met up again somewhere along the trail.
The view is magnificent. You can see a beautiful view of Lake Lure and the town of Chimney Rock. Of course, you are also surrounded by those beautiful mountains. Across the way we were able to pick out where the Huron Village was. It is completely gone now but you could tell where trees had been cleared on the mountainside.
CRP also packed sack lunches for us. At the top of Hickory Nut Falls is where we decide to stop and eat. Now you see this waterfall behind the Sachem at the Huron Village. When you watch the movie again, at the very top of the falls and back into the woods a little ways is where we ate. We spread out on rocks, ate, and took off our shoes to let our feel cool off in that COLD mountain water. Very refreshing!
Right below where we ate, on that sort of flat rock area is where Magua met his demise. When he falls over dead, look in the background and you will see the water coming down and other Hurons standing by. This is also where Hawkeye and Chingachgook come running out of the shrubs and Hawkeye shoots one Huron and holds the other one at bay while Chingachgook takes care of Magua.
At Nature's Showerbath and long the Cliff Trail is where the bulk of the last twenty minutes of the film is shot. We see the rock that Uncas and Magua roll around on before Uncas is killed. And let me tell you, it ain't very big. It is also the rock that Alice falls from. A mattress was lain down on another, flat rock below this one for her to fall on. And of course there were safety nets all around should the worse happen. All of the safety fences and guard rails were removed. People, this is a long way up and a long way down. I guess that's why they get paid the big bucks.
At Inspiration Point is where Hawkeye and Cora embrace after all this mayhem. You can see that white horizontal line across the rock behind them.
At Groundhog Slide is where our Mohican friends are seen running up the mountainside to follow Magua and co. Safety nets were also set up along the way here for them. This is also the rock you see Uncas slide down when Magua kills him.
We see the rock that Uncas is standing behind before he comes out and whacks the Huron in the face. We see the small cave-like area that Chingachgook and Hawkeye come from when they realize Uncas is in trouble. And all along this area is where all the chase scenes took place. I am amazed at how these men could run with reckless abandon here because there is so much rock. We were taking care of our footing and we were walking. Oh yeah, that's why they get paid the big bucks.
This place looks exactly the way it looks in the movie. I couldn't believe I was there, walking the same footsteps. Most of the day was spent here but we are scheduled to have supper back at the pavillion at 5:00 so we make our way back down. The food was wonderful. We rested a bit and visited with each other, took pictures, and just enjoyed the time.
That night, back at our lodging place, a raffle and auction was held. Wes Studi participated in this. He was most generous in that he took the time to let us take his picture with us (EACH of us!) and sign autographs. And did you know he has a band? Well, he does and it's very good. He had CD's there as well as some photos his wife brought to sell.
This is our last night here. Some of us decided to venture over to the Tiki Bar and indulge. I suppose we wanted to make it last as long as possible. It was a wonderful time. I hope those of you who want to come can do so. You will be glad you did.
Entry # Last
What started out as love for a movie and lust for a longhunter woodsman clad in buckskin and breechclout became a time in my life that was more deeply stirring to my blood than any imagining could possibly have been.
The Great Spirit and Maker of all Life spread before my eyes the majesty of His work. What an artist He is. I saw the heights and depths of the strokes of His paintbrush. I saw strength in falling and rushing water. I saw streams of sunlight dance through His forests.
He allowed voices, strings, and the sound of the pipe to tickle my ears. The sound of water and the quiet of the woods. Greetings from strangers who, after a few days and a bit, were not strangers.
From the cup of a French trader, pure mountain water swam across my tongue. Food prepared with love by so many was spread before me. And a mysterious amber liquid as well as another liquid of which the recipe remains secret was shared around the camp of a Scottish clan.
Warm hugs and handshakes welcomed me. I felt a tree branch helping me climb to the top of the world as well as a strong hand along the way. Cold mountain water cooled my feet.
Voices of laughter and song were there. Lines quoted from a favorite movie were forever being said. Stories were told, stories were heard, and stories were shared.
The fragrance of clean, fresh air were breathed. Woodsmoke and campfire aromas wafted through an encampment. The scent of buckskin encircled my nose. The smells of balsam fir, sweet grass, sage, and cedar tied in bundles now grace my home.
One who is often portrayed as savage came unarmed and in peace baring his wife and son along the way. Beads and strong whiskey, mirrors, tools, clothes...everything was inside and we took everything. So many things were done and no one was spared from the fun. It was indeed an adventcha. We all survived and the worst did not happen.
So, to all of you who are thinking about making this trek headed to Fort William Henry and beyond, though you are strangers, you cannot be left behind. Your friends will think you are indeed a breed apart and make no sense when you tell them what you're doing. Do try to make them understand you. Push hard and good luck.
I came away forever changed. The Gathering is so much more than traveling hundreds of miles to see a movie. Many new paths were crossed and lifelong friends were made. I shall never forget this.
P.S. I still lust for that longhunter woodsman. :)