Given that Cormac McCarthy was raised in Tennessee, there is much to support the theory that the man and boy are approaching the lower stretches of the Appalachian Mountain Range, perhaps the Great Smoky Mountains which are situated on the Tennessee-North Carolina border.
Northern Lights is the popular name for the aurora borealis: naturally occurring light displays caused by charged particles interacting with the magnetic field in the Earth's upper atmosphere.
The dramatic waterfall – providing a rare moment of relief – may have been based on the Linville Falls in North Carolina, part of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Morels are edible mushrooms, with a honeycomb-like upper section. Black morels thrive in areas scorched by forest fires.