By Caleb Peek
There’s just something about these mountains.
In Western North Carolina, mountains mean life. From Murphy to Boone and all the hills and hollows in between, the Appalachians feed us. They quench our thirst. They’re a barrier between the slow pace of mountain life and the high speed of modern society, and they’re a place of refuge when life’s problems are too much to bear. Stand on any street corner in this rural pocket of America, and look all around you. What will you see?
Where would we be without them? The town of Franklin sees thousands of tourists each year thanks to the nearby Appalachian Trail, an iconic piece of American culture that’s derived a distinctive culture of its own. The local economy thrives on mountain gear and outdoor expertise, and businesses like Blackrock Outdoor Company have expanded due to the call of the wild.
But even though these mountains are our home, humans are naturally destructive. That’s why communities like Asheville or Sylva and institutions like Western Carolina University practice sustainability, to keep the pine-dotted mountain balds and crisp, meandering streams free of human pollution. Western is even one of the top sustainable colleges in the state. As one of our writers points out, we feel that “recycling doesn’t have to be difficult.”
We care so much about our area of Appalachia because it’s embedded within all of us. You’ll see that when it burns, so does our anger. When we climb, so do our spirits. When we experience the land, we make sure to “Leave No Trace” so someone else can feel what we feel every day.
Even on Main St., the mountains are calling. We’ve gone. Will you?