9300 Deponie Drive, Raleigh

Venture just beneath the southern tip of Falls Lake’s lowermost finger or just north of Interstate 540, and you’ll stumble upon a scene that has surely fallen out of someone’s postapocalyptic dream: a resting mountain of trash, covered with sweeping green grass and infiltrated by exhaust pipes and waterworks. Children chime musical instruments in the nearby public park, decorated with trashcans that are playfully aggressive about waste disposal, while mountain bike trails form rings around the peak’s base.

At first, Trash Mountain seems somehow idyllic, an act of reclamation against our wasteful ways. But climb or bike to the top of the mountain and look down, and you’ll watch a stream of trucks and vans bring new garbage into a separate sorting facility. No, we haven’t fixed the systems that pimple the earth with hills of refuse; we’ve just camouflaged their results in surreal scenes of imposed tranquility.