Okay, people, here goes. There are a couple of things I need to mention before I get into this year's diary. One, many of the places we went to are repeats from last year so if I get a little redundent, I apologize. Two, I will try to keep my accounts as closely related to the movie as possible but there are so many other things that happened that are not movie related. Here we go:

June 20, 2002
"Another year passed..."

Our first day here this year is jammed packed with "adventcha". I'm going to break my first day's account into two or three installments. Our first stop this year is at Chimney Rock Park. This is where the last ten minutes or so of the movie was shot. We meet at the pavillion for breakfast, meet and great, get our packets which include program guide, name tags, and various other pertinent information we need, t-shirts, and of course, our vehicle flag. After a group shot in front of that awesome mountain, we make our way to the cliffs.

Driving up to the parking area is a winding little drive. Once we park, we enter the cool rock entrance to catch an elevator ride to the gift shop. Once again this year they are playing LOTM on their television in the shop.

We travel the Cliff Trail this year rather than the Skyline Trail. This route gives you more of a sequence of events that played in the movie. Our first location site is Groundhog Slide. This is where Hawkeye, Chingachgook, and Uncas (and Cora, though you don't see her running up the mountain) ran up the mountain side chasing after Magua and the captives. The tree that you see Uncas grab as he's coming up is pointed out to us. I take this opportunity to wrap myself around this tree for a photo op. You can see all the pics at the website:

The next location spot is Inspiration Point. This is where Cora and Hawkeye embrace after Uncas, Alice, and Magua are killed. You can see the very definite white vein running horizontally along the side of that rock. We also walk through the crevice that Chingachgook and Hawkeye run through as Uncas is being killed.

Nature's Shower Bath is next along the trail. A major portion of the chase scene was shot here. This is where Magua and Uncas fight and Uncas is killed and thrown off the mountain. It is also where Alice jumps off and takes her own life. We get a group photo here on the rock. Of course, when the movie was being shot, the fences were removed. Can't imagine doing all that rolling around on that rock without a fence. But, there were safety nets and mattresses placed just in case. A little past there is the place where Uncas hides and awaits the band of Hurons and whacks one in the face with the butt of his gun.

Continuing on, we make our way to Hickory Nut Falls. This is where Magua meets his death at the hand of Chingachgook. This is a very beautiful place. We congregate at the Falls to cool off. Rich informs us that a local television station has been following us. They have hauled themselves and all their equipment up to the Falls to get our story. They are with WLOS-13 which is Asheville's ABC affiliate. They interviewed Chris, who is from Alaska, Rich, Eric Hurley (Soldier #2), and Stan who is dressed in his buckskins along with his musket.

This is a very beautiful place once you reach the top. It's reaching the top that can really get to you. It's climbing to about 2,480 ft. You can set your own pace, which we did. Once you're there, though, the view is magnificent. It is my understanding the actors had to make the climb just as we did as well as the production crew along with all their equipment. As mentioned last year, this is why they get paid the big bucks.

Being here gives me a feeling that cannot really be described. Here, where those beautiful characters were. Here, where you saw the love a father had for his son and the love a "son" had for his brother. Here, where you feel the sorrow of a sister's fate. And, again, as I mentioned before, I cannot imagine these characters running along this trail with the footing they had. It's a bit rocky in places but there is no way I could have moved across it the way they did.

It is early afternoon when we leave and we still have two big events awaiting us.

After recovering (somewhat) from a 4th of July weekend, it is time to get back to the Gathering Diary. Before I procede, let me do a little backtracking.

At Chimney Rock Park, I mentioned Hickory Nut Falls. This is the waterfall you see behind Sachem at the Huron Village. The Huron Village is actually across the street from Chimney Rock Park. You can no longer see the location from the cliffs. This waterfall is also seen when the camera pans across the mountains and the music is playing as Magua and the Hurons are taking Alice away. Also, when you see Magua fall over dead, look in the background and you'll see Hawkeye holding some Hurons at bay with the top of the falls in view. The water Magua lands in is where the falls run down and eventually fall over the mountain.

At Nature's Shower Bath, where Alice jumps, in the movie you'll see the water from that. You might have thought it was rain but it's the little trickle of water coming off the mountain at this point. The rainfall has been lower than normal so this year there was no water coming off the mountain at this location.

...continued...still Thursday, June 20, 2002

"Help ourselves to a few horns from your powder stores...and some food..."

Once we leave Chimney Rock Park, we gather up and caravan over to the French Broad Muzzleloading Society. These men took a day off work to be with us. Some of the Gatherers own their own muzzleloader and are very experienced in shooting them. Others were not but the members of this group were so gracious to teach. The shooting range was covered where you load your gun and it was quite spacious. There were targets set up at 25, 50, and 100 yards plus some novelty targets...i.e. tricorn hats on sticks, frying pan hanging on a frame, and some balloons. One of our Gatherers made a target from Duncan's image once Hawkeye had shot him while on the stake. It was a good one. My husband enjoyed this very much and so did I, although I didn't try it. Next time I will. There was also a tomahawk throw. This was probably something I could have done, but I didn't give it a try either. Next time I will. We also had a footrace. This I *did* try and probably shouldn't have. I always thought that working out and being in some kind of shape was enough but today I learned that sometimes they are not. It was fun, though. We had to cross a little trickle of a creek, run uphill slightly, run around some trees, dodge cow paddies, and come back across another little ditch. I don't know that I'll do this one again because it wasn't long after that I developed a tremendous migraine headache. (OH NO! NOT THAT!) We hung around here a little while longer for the prizes to be given out. For the blackpowder shoot there was some fine French brandy and another item I can't recall, for the hawk throw there was a woven wampum necklace/hatband plus some French brandy, and for the footrace there was a handmade copper gorget (similar to Magua's) and more French brandy. This was a lot of fun as well as educational.

We say our good-bye's and thank-you's and make our way to the Spirits on the River Restaurant. This is in the Asheville area along side the Swannanoa River. It is a very unusual looking place from the side of the road...almost shack-looking. It is a Native American restaurant. By this time, my head is not feeling very well and I'm beginning to feel a little sick to my stomach, but I am determined to see this through. Don't ask me how my dinner was because I couldn't eat it. We ordered the Raven's Reward Wild Meat Sampler which included buffalo, alligator, rattlesnake, and pheasant. I nibbled a little on that and it had a great taste. My husband had the crab-stuffed broiled trout, squash, maize salad, and wild rice along with herbal tea. For dessert he had the fry bread with strawberries and ice cream. He said it all was to die for. So sorry I couldn't eat mine. We were seated outdoors on the deck which is right beside the river. A lot of atmosphere.

We had some wonderful entertainment. Some dancers and performers from the Cherokee Reservation came over to perform for us. They were amazing. One of the hoop dancers performed using 15 hoops. Their costumes were very colorful and they did some of their traditional dances including the butterfly dance.

But the main attraction was Bill Miller. He is from the Stockbridge-Munsee Mohican Reservation in Wisconsin. He is very well known among the Native population and has won music awards. He is a very talented musician. He sings, plays the guitar, flute, and the mouth harp. He has a wonderful story to tell about his life. He plays to sold out audiences in huge venues but tonight, we had him in a very intimate setting and he gave us a lot. I would say that altogether he played and entertained for about 3 hours. It was absolutely wonderful...I just wished I had felt better.

Once the concert ended and everyone had eaten their dinner, it was time to get back to the hotel. I left this concert with a lot of wonder for the Native people. They truly love this land and all that it has to offer. They have been treated cruelly by the white man, but they are still here...they've survived.

At this point, I'm beginning to wonder if I'm going to be able to make tomorrow's adventcha. I must get some sleep for the day ahead is one I'm looking forward to...