Topic: "Chingachgook Lives"
Frodo, Legolas and Mick, the Wonder Dog, have safely returned to the Shire. This past Saturday they walked the Bald River Gorge in the Land of the Orangemen. Leaving their motorcar at the Bald River Falls in the Park of the Cherokee, they hiked from the falls upriver many miles, hoping to meet another trail which would lead them back to their starting place. Floods in the springtime however washed away a critical bridge, and the funds for repair are not as critical a need as the attempt to uncover weapons of mass destruction. The hikers returned via the same route as they used to enter the Gorge.
Filmed nearby was "The Last of the Mohicans," starring Daniel-Day Lewis. Frodo could not help but think of himself as the Deerslayer, accompanied by Uncas and Chingachgook, pursued by the evil Magua. Behind every waterfall or cascade Frodo looked for a cave wide enough to hide should Magua and his warriors suddenly emerge from the shrouded mountain laurel and rhododendron.
Mick was hesitant at first, unfamiliar as he is with a lead role on an unfamiliar trail. He held to Frodo's right, as if to keep himself between Frodo and the precipice of the trail falling steeply into the gorge. On the return trip he held firmly to the lead and stopped only to look and make sure that those who were his responsibility were accounted for. Several times, when Legolas lagged far behind, Mick would not go on until Legolas caught up and Mick could sniff his crotch to assure himself that he was as he appeared.
Legolas was deliberate, taking in both the diversity of the plant life, the incredible beauty of the river itself, and the occasional frog or salamander who wandered into view.
At one point, as the travelers tired from their all day march, Mick caught the sound of a roaring cascade, and the refreshment that whizzed by in its' course. Dimples, as big as a bathtub, had been carved into the rockfall, and many were filled with water. Mick found one to his liking, crawled in, promptly sat down, and proceeded to drink his fill. Legolas took off his shirt, dipped it in a similar pool, and squeezed the pure water down over his head. Frodo removed his shoes and socks, and dangled his feet in a cooling eddy. The water could not have been more than 50 degrees, and each of the travelers concluded it was as close to heaven as any had yet come.
It was a great day. One that humbles Hobbit and Elf, and that cements a relationship with a dog that will mark those days when there are no more outings together. Frodo is grateful for every such day.
It could have been a very bad day. Had the travelers continued on the second trail and attempted, tired as they were, to cross the roaring river at the spot where the bridge had been, tragedy would have been a likely end.
The Forest Service does what it can with what it gets. Frodo will not be surprised when he reads about the travelers who followed, and their unsuccessful crossing. Frodo guesses it is more important to extend that Halliburton contract in Rep. DeLay's Congressional District, than it is to re-build a footbridge. Who knows, the next kid that drowns there might be a Mohican?