William Linville was killed in 1766 by the Shawnee in the beautiful forested gorge that now bears his name; it was a brutal end to a hard life. Linville, like his friend Daniel Boone, was a ‘long hunter’, travelling in a small party for months at a time deep into uncharted forests to trap and snare wild mammals for profit. Some were also employed to explore and to enable the gradual western spread of settlements. Such forays often brought unwelcome competition and conflict with native tribes and was thus a high risk, high reward occupation.
Today, the forests and cliffs along the Linville gorge are easy to admire from outlooks and well-marked trails. The surrounding settlements are largely given over to cater for tourists and retirees. The wilderness may no longer be wild but it is breathtaking.
From Wiseman’s view there are hawks and vultures flying by and warblers and woodpeckers calling in the forest below. hereabouts. The forest plants include a wide range species that enjoy the deep shade; many are yet to flower but the Silene virginica is vibrant red and unmistakable.
On the top of Hawksbill mountain the vegetation is an evergreen scrub; lizards hunt on the bare rocks and cedar waxwings and eastern towhees sit high on perches.
The rain falls incessantly and the misty forest becomes bright from the reflected light on the foliage. The view from the various lookouts on the Blue Ridge Parkway is obscured by low cloud. A few days of sun and one of incessant rain is not enough to scratch the surface of the rich wildlife hereabouts.