By Dawn Gilchrist-Young
(Editor’s note: Writer Dawn Gilchrist-Young is conducting a series of interviews with mountain natives to gauge their reaction to changes taking place in the region and their memories of the past. These stories will appear intermittently in The Smoky Mountain News.)
When you head up Alarka from N.C. 19/74, you see a microcosm of western North Carolina — old home places with mountain pastures, high end real estate development signs every quarter mile, and enough trash to discourage even the most dedicated “Adopt-a-Highway“ group. Like the rest of the region, upper Alarka is a combination of stunning natural beauty, abject disregard for litter laws, and unbridled greed.