Thursday, June 14, 2001
"Tiring, isn't it? But that's the lay of the land."
After a very short night's sleep (another story for another time), we make our way from Chimney Rock to Linville Falls. Some had a shorter night than we did in that they arrrived at the opening and closing vistas of the movie for sunrise. Once we've "made love to our faces", we leave for Table Rock which is the last scene of the movie.
This is a VERY strenuous trek up the mountain. Stopping along the way to view the gorgeous scenery, we work our way upward with a steady pace. I asked how our actor friends made this journey and was told they walked up just as we were doing. It was not hard to imagine Daniel doing this (you know the method actor and all) or even Russell Means, but I found it hard to believe Madeliene Stowe did. She did though, because there was no flat place to land a helicopter. Once we reached "the top of the world" it was awesome. Yes, we stood where he stood and saw the same mountain range. In the scene where Chingachgook says "...I, the last of the Mohicans," and you see this small pine tree behind Hawkeye, well that little tree is there only it had been a victim of a forest fire this past fall. All the white rocks you see, everything is there. We stay here for a good while and visit and are just in awe of where we are. Some were even moved to tears. After our stay, we make our way back down. I am so glad I was here. I shall never see this scene through the same eyes again, though. I knew this was a very physical movie, but until today, I didn't realize just how much so.
June 14, 2001...day 1 continued
"We must stop soon. Women are tired."
Ah...the George Road.
Once we make our way from Table Rock, have lunch, and rest a bit, we drive to Linville Falls. At the entrance to the park there are several displays of the waterfalls here at which point our leader tells us a little of the movie magic. You know the scene that shows our Mohican friends and company on the left side of the screen, way up high, entering a waterfall? Nope! They are actually walking on a rock ledge that's pretty low to the ground and then the high falls is spliced next to this to make it look like they are walking into the falls. If you'll notice next time you watch this, the water looks a little fuzzy. Sorry, if I spoiled that for you.
Anyway, the first portion of this segment takes us to the George Road where the ambush takes place. Soldier #2 is among us and he has a lot of ensight about what took place here since he was in these scenes. He shows where the characters were at various points. He shows us where Hawkeye was standing (DNA) when he sees Magua aiming at Cora and slowly takes Killdeer and twirls it around to shoot. Of course, that tree that is almost horizontal is right there. To me it seemed much larger in real life than on screen. The marching and militia drills were very intense. They also put the canoes in here. Soldier #2 tells us that the canoe Madeliene Stowe is in turns over (more than once)and she had a caniption fit thinking she was going to drown (in one foot of water).
Once we walk from this area, we go to the waterfall. This is not a high waterfall at all. This is where they get out of the canoes and send them over. It is really beautiful here and the rock ledge that the characters walk across that I mentioned earlier is here (more DNA).
We leave here and walk back on the George Road and further back still where the very beginning scene of this takes place. The stump that they pass by as Magua tells Duncan (in native tongue) what he thinks of him and his lazy women is there, although in nine years time it has begun to deteriorate somewhat.
Let me leave you to digest this for a while. The day is still not over for us. Next stop...Fort William Henry.
...to be continued...
Thursday, June 14, 2001
"We'll take you as far as the fort."
As we leave Linville Park, we are caught in somewhat of a nature ambush...a huge thunderstorm. But we safely make our way to our vehicles and head to Lake James, sight of Fort William Henry.
The area where the fort was built was completely stripped of its trees, power lines, everything so the fort could be built. It was quite massive but is no longer there. The only thing left is the foundation. The power lines have been replaced and seedlings were planted to replace the trees. It's amazing how much a pine tree will grow in ten years.
Now, I am really embarrased to admit this. As many times as I've watched this movie I always thought that the fort was on that island. I suppose it's because when the cannons are fired my eyes were drawn to that light which shows the island. I was informed differently. It was actually on the hill on the other side of the fort. It is a pretty steep climb up to the top. Between the lake and the fort is a parking lot, which was covered with sand and other types of ground cover so it created the illusion you came straight from the canoe, onto land, and up the land to the fort.
The thinned out area on the island you see the cannon fire through was deliberately thinned out for that effect.
Lake James was where the canoe chase took place. Around from the area of the fort we are taken to the spot where you see Hawkeye and others running from Massacre Valley to the bank that is somewhat orange-red before they get into the canoes. It looks exactly the same except for a little erosion on the bank area. Soldier #2 told us that it took several takes to get the shot where you see Uncas get into Duncan's canoe after Hawkeye says, "Head for the river!" Someone asked about the speed at which these canoes seemed to be traveling. Soldier #2 told us they had trolling motors on them. (Not so impressive, now, is it?)
Across the lake we saw the point where Magua and Montcalm had their discussion at night before the attack at Massacre Valley.
This is a beautiful area. Our first day has ended. We are now headed back to our lodging post, which is about an hour away. We must rest because tomorrow we hunt elk and track a war party.