Boone, N.C. | Travel | Smithsonian
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Boone, N.C.

Living in the wilderness

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It must have been the spirits of Daniel Boone and his fellow wilderness seekers, tired of the encroaching evidence of humans and their trappings, who drew me to this hard to reach town over 3,000 feet above sea level, where large areas of rugged country are humped up on the forested backs of the Appalachian Mountains.

Getting to the town of Boone, North Carolina is a steep upward climb from any direction. Every curve (and there are many) opens up a new picture, either sheer rock with layers of eons or a drop that leads to distant ranges of mountains, green into purple into blue. On some days, wisps of clouds lay on the tops of trees below. Even when you get to the town itself, it is evident that nature is still trying to creep in and surround Boone. Streets that branch off the main ones often only go so far and stop or circle back down as if the town is a bowl. The variety of trees and plants makes for an unending color show, spring beginnings to the final blaze in the fall.

Although I am sure the wildlife is not as prolific as in the past, from my windows and deck, I watch raccoons, skunks, rabbits, and hawks. On hikes through rocky coves, past waterfalls, and up steep trails, I have unwittingly disturbed kinks, frogs, snakes, and turtles. It is not uncommon for a deer or two to be seen walking around town. There are always numerous bear sightings, even in a downtown parking lot. I'm still waiting to be there for that.

I cannot know, except through books, what early scouts and settlers would have seen here, but living on the edge of these wisely protected lands gives me a tiny taste of wilderness. I consider it a gift and hope it remains so.

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