2010 Great Mohican Gathering
June 18, 19, 20, 2010
Could it possibly be two years has passed already? June had arrived and with it, time for 2010 A Mohican Odyssey. Pre-Gathering shenanigans began a few days early, with a call from Lori saying the airline had lost their luggage! Was this how the Gathering was going to go this time? I hoped not!
My God, you’ve grown up!
A quick trip to visit Lori, Kyle, and Ariel revealed that the luggage had indeed been found, and the Gathering magic began. Over the next few days, Gatherers began to arrive in Mohicanland and many happy reunions were had. Jayne, Karen, Tammy, Nancy, and others arrived and began setting up Ariel’s Auction room. Later, a pre-Gathering dinner was planned, and that was a great time to visit old friends and get acquainted with the new ones too. Just the fact that the newbies didn’t run out of the restaurant screaming is a testament to their tolerance and strength of character. So they survived the dinner… let’s see what they think of the whirlwind weekend we had planned!
Friday morning we caravanned to Hooker Falls at Dupont State Forest, scene of canoes going over the falls. It was easy already to feel the Gathering magic, and so wonderful once again to see the trail of cars behind me with the Gathering flags blowing in the wind. At Hooker Falls, we were met by Dupont volunteer Chris McDonnell, who secured a couple of vehicle passes for us and assisted us throughout the day. Eric Hurley (Soldier #2) led the group to Hooker Falls and explained the canoe scene. From there, we moved our cars to Buck Forest parking area and planned for a long day in the forest. After some vague hints about the “Dupont Death March”, Eric lined up the group into a column and gave the marching orders. I giggled, wondering if the new folks thought we would have to march like this all day. Finally Eric let us walk on our own, and we made our way to Bridal Veil Falls.
At Bridal Veil Falls, what fun it is to go under the falls and look back to see the exact scene that can be seen in the movie! All we needed was torches. I never get tired of making pictures of people going under the falls. Although this isn’t the falls that Hawkeye jumps through in the movie, we were witness to a reenactment of Hawkeye’s jump by Eric’s dog, who apparently didn’t read the signs warning visitors to stay off the falls. Thankfully, the dog survived, but that wasn’t to be our only excitement at Bridal Veil. A handful of us accidentally stepped over onto the private property which borders the falls (near the “I ain’t your scout” location) and we were immediately and harshly met by a security guard who demanded of Eric, “Are you some kind of guide or something?” We were invited to make our way back to the other side of the falls, which we did, but it was fine because Eric had said all he needed to say at that point. Amazingly, none of us got a picture of the security guard, which would have been an interesting addition to Gathering scrapbooks.
I ain’t your scout
After Bridal Veil Falls, Chris suggested we stop by Lake Dense for lunch. This was something new for the Gathering, and while it is not a movie location, Lake Dense is beautiful and peaceful, and an excellent place to stop for our picnic lunch. We relaxed at the picnic tables and docks, which have recently been reconstructed by Eric’s construction class at Western Piedmont Community College. There is also another tiny lake to visit nearby, and Patrick, Karen, Eli, and others enjoyed the easy stroll to that lake as a side trip.
Chris also suggested an alternate route to High Falls, which kept us on a shady, wooded path instead of on the hot gravel road. High Falls, of course, is breathtaking, and all of the falls seemed particularly awesome this year because of abundant rainfall. After High Falls, we traveled on to Triple Falls and saw the location of the River Walk. The Triple Falls picnic shelter was soon filled with the scent of BBQ, as caterers from Hawg Wild BBQ arrived with our dinner! This had been suggested at past Gatherings as a chance to relax at Dupont and not have to rush off to another venue, and to be able to spend as much time as we wanted at the falls. It turned out to be a great idea, and the evening dinner was excellent. It was really nice to be able to socialize over dinner, then head down to the bottom of the falls if desired. The vehicle passes that Chris had secured for us were really handy at the end of a long day, and it meant getting people out of the forest and back to their cars fairly quickly.
Saturday…. What can I say about Saturday? As one Gatherer has noted, the schedule seemed to be a hodge-podge. I had juggled things around out of necessity, and tried to cram a LOT into one day, and I actually awoke at 5am worried about how it would all flow. We started with another caravan of vehicles, this time to the Manor Inn in Asheville, scene of Webb’s Headquarters and parts of Albany. Soldier #2 was on hand providing interesting details about the filming in this location. No matter how many times I hear him talk, I always learn something different; some new detail to look for in the movie, and it never gets old.
From there, the caravan of buckskin-flagged vehicles made its way to Weaverville to find the scene of Cameron’s Cabin. I warned everyone: the road is horrendous, the hike is steep, and there’s nothing to see. Several wise Gatherers decided to wait for us in a church parking lot. Perhaps they were saving their strength for later, perhaps they were preserving the underside of their cars, whatever their reasons, they didn’t seem to suffer much in our absence. I can’t say exactly what happened at the church, but I’ve heard rumors of a potluck Fathers Day lunch…
I saw nothing…
The rest of us piled into a couple of vehicles and bounced and dragged our way up the dirt road to the gate. Once we parked and started hiking up, I couldn’t believe how the place was so much more overgrown than it had been a few weeks before, when a few of us had scouted the location. The weeds were taller than most of us but we hacked our way into the wilderness and found the clearing (in the loosest sense of the word). We looked from every angle, and tried to imagine the Cameron’s Cabin scenes, but it is very difficult given the overgrown state of the site. One *might* be able to see a familiar peak in the distance, perhaps. But we did it, and it wasn’t easy, and now it’s something we can mark off our list and say we did, and probably won’t do again.
It can be dangerous
Reunited with our church parking lot comrades, we took the short, curvy drive over the hill to the Elk Hunt area, where we swatted gnats and mosquitoes as we ate lunch. Another warning had been given to Gatherers for this trip: wear long pants. The weeds were tall here as well and poison ivy was everywhere. After Cameron’s Cabin, though, a few weeds weren’t going to stop us, and we hiked our way through the field and into the woods, where we found the rock that the elk dives over when it is shot. After that, we drove up the road to find the large rock that Chingachgook walks under when tracking the war party. Eric was brave enough to escort some Gatherers up that terrible road in his truck, which still bears battle scars from tracking the war party. Veteran Gatherers spent much time discussing certain tree and rock formations, and comparing them to screen shots printed and brought to the locations by Donna. Thanks, Donna!
As if by miracle, it seemed we were on schedule for the day. Even construction traffic delays didn’t disrupt the flow of the day, and we arrived back to the hotel in plenty of time for raffle tickets to be sold by Patrick and Tammy, and bids to be placed for Ariel’s Auction. We were very lucky to have so many generous donations from Gatherers and past-Gatherers alike (thanks Kay and Bookworm!). Competitive bidding took place, and it was fun to try and outbid one another. Finally Jayne and Karen called the auction time, and bids were collected. The rather small group of people raised a generous sum of close to $700 for Ariel! It has been such a pleasure to have Ariel and her family in attendance these past two Gatherings, and they have truly become part of the Gathering family and it was good to continue the tradition of Ariel’s Auction.
Next came the raffles, and I have never laughed so hard during a raffle before. Patrick and Tammy make an excellent raffle team, but Ariel frequently interrupted by saying, “Not today, Eric. Not today.” Phil couldn’t believe that none of his raffle tickets seemed to be winners, so we taught Ariel to say, “Not today, Phil, not today.” Phil is a good sport though, and eventually wound up with a raffle prize or two.
Soon after, the pizza arrived and everyone had a good time laughing and talking over dinner. Right on schedule, we left for the movie theater, which was a new venue for the Gatherings. Located in Canton, NC, the Colonial Theater is beautifully restored. There, we were treated to Sierra Hurley wearing her father’s British soldier uniform and marching, no, not quite marching… bouncing down the aisle to the front of the theater where her dad explained the various parts of the uniform. We were also joined at the theater by Merwin Gross, who had been our host in the past at Blue Ridge Motion Pictures Studio. Mr. Gross told us about his current project and hinted at some possible involvement in a future (?) Gathering. John Harkins also arrived at the theater, and we were glad he could join us for that. Nancy treated us once again to the Mohican Master spoof before the movie, then it was show time! At Eric’s request, the movie was shown with closed captioning, and some of the typed material gave us something new to laugh at the next day on the trail, when we were (panting) quite a bit.
After all my worrying about the crazy mixed up schedule for Saturday, it really couldn’t have gone any smoother, thanks to everyone’s cooperation and easy-going attitudes. What a wonderful group of Gatherers!
But wait! There’s more! Two hours(maybe)of sleep later, it was time to get up for the sunrise. Are we crazy?? Yep. April was a good companion and kept me going during the long, tiring weekend, and the sunrise was no exception. A shorter caravan of cars wound its way around the curves of the Blue Ridge Parkway in the dark. We arrived at Green Knob Overlook in time to see rosy-fingered dawn creep over the hills. Another beautiful sunrise, then off to breakfast at Famous Louise’s Rock House Restaurant. We have stayed with the original schedule as sort forth by Rich in earlier Gatherings as there seems no way to rearrange it. After breakfast, it was time for Table Rock and the top of the world.
This is another place where the Gathering split up. Diana (Gadget Girl) had scouted a scenic vista from Wiseman’s View, which offers sweeping views of Linville Gorge and even Table Rock and the Chimneys with very little hiking. By this point, some Gatherers agreed that sounded like a good idea, so Diana was their guide for that advencha. Once again, I can’t say what happened, but it sounds to me like they not only visited Wiseman’s View but also Grandfather Mountain, Brown Mountain Beach, Wilson Creek, and possibly Paris, Rome, and the Australian outback as well that morning. Diana, you are amazing!
The rest of us made the long, hot, tiring journey to the top of the world, cameras clicking all the time. We managed some group pictures on the rock before heading back toward the parking lot. Uhoh! Another mishap? No, not really. Spanky, a new Gatherer who hikes at warp speed (now known as Spanky Speed), had just gotten ahead of us and left us in the dust. Not to worry, after we caught up to him, he saved the day for some young men at the bottom of the road who needed a battery jump. I think they would still be sitting there trying to figure it out if Spanky hadn’t helped them! Spanky, you and Debbie are fun, interesting people, and sure livened things up at this Gathering.
Those men will be found…
Believe it or not, on the third day of the Gathering at lunch we were joined by brand new Gatherers Greg and Christina, who found out about the Gathering only a couple of weeks before and could only join us for a few hours. They seemed to enjoy the photo albums and scrapbooks and hearing all the laughter and camaraderie of this wonderful group. They also joined us after lunch for our trip to Linville Falls. As usual, Eric entertained us with his many stories of what took place during the filming there.
It’s always difficult, and perhaps a bit unfair, to try to pinpoint a favorite Gathering moment. There are so many wonderful people and wonderful moments, but one stands out in my mind. As the group wearily made its way on the Linville Falls trail across the bridge, new Gatherer Maura gasped when she looked up and saw the Magua leaning tree. Seeing her excitement at recognizing the tree made me remember why we do this, and it gave me the energy to keep going. Thanks, Maura and Joe, for your enthusiasm and freshness, and for being such good sports throughout the Gathering.
If there can be a second place for favorite moment, it would have to be a short time later at the same location, when we witnessed Ariel hiking along with us on the trail at Linville. With the assistance of her mother Lori, her brother Kyle, and April, Ariel hiked, laughed, joked and sang her way along the Linville Falls trail. What an incredible experience!
Finally, we were off to Lake James, where we saw locations relating to the fort just as the sun began to set. What a long, tiring day, then suddenly it was time to say goodbye, and I wasn’t quite ready. It’s so hard to realize that another Gathering is over! More than 30 people from 12 states and Canada, and each of you helped make this Gathering a great one! We were blessed with perfect weather and a wonderful, fun group of people for the weekend. Sarah… your encouragement, ideas, support, and Program Guide are priceless, and it was a pleasure meeting Ernie. Fitz, it’s always nice to have you around and I appreciate your support as well. The two Debbie Webbs, what sweet ladies! Phil and Karen: thank you for keeping me laughing. And Saint Nancy, all you do is greatly appreciated. Others I have already mentioned for their various contributions, and if I skipped anyone I apologize. Know that each and every one of you played a part in making this Mohican Gathering special and creating the magic, and you each hold a special place in my heart.
Until next time (?), Happy Trails!
... Stephanie ... late June, 2010
Photos courtesy of Stephanie Morrow and Tammy Buckner
Photos courtesy of Stephanie Morrow and Tammy Buckner
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GREAT MOHICAN GATHERING OF 1998