Travel Diary: Fort William-Henry and Lake George Part II

    Hi, everyone,

    Photos are starting to trickle in, and I have enough to do another post about our trip to Fort William-Henry and Lake George.

    Just to recap... We set out from Rogers Island early on Saturday morning and drove northeast to the southern end of Lake George. Eileen Hannay, manager of the Rogers Island Visitor Center, was kind enough to drive — a good thing, given that we had absolutely no idea where we were going and roads in Upstate New York can be very confusing.

    We'd been driving for perhaps twenty minutes, when Eileen pulled over and took us on a little hike down a trail into the forest to what turned out to be the site of what's known as The Bloody Morning Scout, one of the early skirmishes/battles of the war. On the morning of Sept. 8, 1755, British and Provincial troops with Mohawk allies under William Johnson were ambushed by French and Ephraim Williams was killed. The British claimed victory and went on to build Fort William-Henry.

    There's a monument to Williams, who bequeathed his wealth to higher education, resulting in the building of what is Williams College. I don't have my mother's photos of the monument yet, but what I do have is a photograph of a young redcoat named Benjamin on guard against another ambush.

    Yes, he was really getting into that tricorne and the wooden replica musket...

    Then we visited Fort William-Henry, the site of a disastrous British defeat at the hands of the Marquis de Montcalm. Along the route we drove through the area of the post-defeat massacre, where Indian allies of the French, deprived by Montcalm of the spoils of their victory, attacked the retreating British and killed some folk (depicted in Last of the Mohicans and unfairly pinned on Montcalm, who had actually tried to permit the survivors of the battle to retreat with their possessions and dignity intact).

    Don't yet have photos of that either...

    But here's a shot from Fort William-Henry showing actual bricks from the original fort. There's very little from the fort that's original now.

    After that, as you already know, we went on a boat tour of Lake George with Mike Terenzetti. It was freezing cold, and I ended up being drenched from head to foot by a big wave that hit the boat just at the right angle to send a huge plume of water over the prow onto both me and Eileen.

    Here's another view of the 18th Century, the world of the Rangers.

    Now, I'm from Colorado. In Colorado, we hike. A lot. Add that to the fact that I wanted to get as close to Iain, Morgan, Connor and the men as I possibly could, and you know I wanted to go ashore and hike around in the forest — hike with my Rangers, as Debbie H put it.

    So, Mike, who is very familiar with this area and does a lot of hiking and climbing in these mountains, took the boat in to shore and helped us all out. He understood completely that I wanted as much firsthand experience with the area as I could get in four hours. I was still absolutely drenched from my socks to my behind by that wave. My hair had mostly dried by then.

    Hiking in wet jeans in a piercing cold wind is not particularly fun, but I was able to ignore the discomfort because the area we were hiking through was so breathtakingly lovely. Red maples. Acorns on the ground. Tall oaks with golden leaves. Deep, thick forest. Dark earth. Green hemlock.

    We hiked along under Mike's guidance, with Ben scouting for us and then alternatively ambushing us. He was really into the spirit of the place, that's for sure. Then we heard the sound of water, and there before us the forest opened to reveal a stunningly beautiful waterfall. It's called Shelving Falls.

    Now, Mike hasn't read a thing I've written. He and I haven't talked about the plot of Untamed at all, apart from certain historical aspects. He just knew this waterfall was there and thought we might find it pretty. Of course, we thought it was absolutely lovely.

    Then he started talking about it. It seems that near the top (to the viewer's left behind and to the left of the farthest-left waterfall) is a little basin that the water has eroded in the stone. It fills up with water when the river is running high, and then the water stays in it. The stone warms it, he says, and it's almost like a little natural bathtub. Kids play in it. People splash in it.

    Standing there, listening to him, I got goose bumps. Which very quickly came close to tears.

    Somehow, it seemed to me, he had brought us to the special place where Morgan and Amalie... Well, I don't want to spoil it for anyone. Those of you who've read the story know what I'm getting at. I was blown away. Standing there with Lake George below us, the silent forest standing tall and thick around us, and this little waterfall splashing down over rocks, I felt so close to my characters — so close — and yet I knew my time there was almost over. Once we got back to the boat we would head south again, and this place would fall farther and farther behind us. I picked up a few acorns and tucked them in my pocket as a remembrance of this place. *sniff*

    Here's a photo Mike took of my mother, me, Ben and the lovely Eileen Hannay, who gave so generously of her time, sharing her expertise with us. You can tell I haven't been getting more than four hours of sleep a night on this trip. The bags under my eyes had to be checked at the airport.

    We stayed at the falls for a short period of time, then started the hike back. Mike had told us that a large boulder we'd seen was split down the center. From where we passed it, one couldn't tell the rock was split. But knowing this gave me an idea.

    As we started to pass it, I called to Benjy, "They're after us, Ben! Hurry!"

    Then I took off running as fast as I could up the leafy, rocky hillside, dodging trees and doing my best to run like my life depended on it.

    Ben, who'd pretty much been "in character" the entire time, didn't need an explanation. He ran up the hill after me, followed me into the split rock and told me to get behind him. So here's a moment of mother/son foolery, captured on film by Eileen:

    From there, it was back to the boat for a trip up through the narrows and then back to the marina.

    Here I am, finally mostly dry again (except for my butt, which stayed wet for the rest of the day because I kept sitting on it). My hair has been drenched and windblown. This would not work for a hair-product advertisement!

    Ben is sitting behind me, so you can only see his legs. I'm talking with Mike, who was full of information on this region from where the rattlesnakes are to who owns which house. We saw Kevin Costner's new place and I had a strong urge to shout, "Chumani tutanka obwaci!" (Dances with Wolves in Lakotiye) but I managed to control myself.

    There are more fun/silly photos to come...

    And now for something different: Those of you who want bookmarks for Untamed, just mail a stamped self-addressed enveloped to my P.O. Box: Pamela Clare, PO Box 1582, Longmont, CO 80502. I'll sign the bookmarks and get them in the mail back to you.

    Not too long before Untamed is out! I can't wait to share Morgan's story with you all...

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