Board and Staff

John Cottingham, Founder/Executive Director

John Cottingham, Founder/Executive Director

My Pisgah Story

I’m a member of an august group of former camp counselors (and others who have joined us along the way) who have gone camping, mostly in Pisgah, every October for the last 41 years. We call it the Annual Wimp Bear Hike and Woods Football Rendezvous (don’t ask), or just the “Annual.” Once, on the Annual I noticed some severe erosion of the steep trail we were hiking down (Sam Knob), and we had a discussion about how federal funding was not keeping up with the needs of the forest. That conversation planted a seed that many years later -- with forest recreational usage up, and erosion getting worse – is germinating into The Pisgah Conservancy. When I retired in 2014 (or, when they retired me following a merger), I looked for a way to contribute financially to Pisgah. I couldn’t do it. There was no “friends” group, and I was not terribly inclined to just send (another) check to the federal treasury. So, I talked to some folks who are passionate about Pisgah, and we decided to create The Pisgah Conservancy.

My father was a director of Camps Pinnacle and Falling Creek when I was a boy.  While growing up near Hendersonville, some of my fondest memories are from Pisgah.   I remember....

Experiencing near cardiac arrest when hitting the water for the first time at Sliding Rock, then competing to see who could slide the most times.

Picnicking with my family by the Davidson River.

Looking down on Looking Glass Rock from the Parkway.

Camping in the Shining Rock wilderness area as a teenager.


There were also a few experiences in the “character-building” category, such as....

Running downhill in a torrential downpour while being attacked by hornets near Cove Creek.

Spending a night in a crummy tent, with poor drainage around it (in the well-named Graveyards Fields!) in a monsoon, bordering on a hurricane.


Those memories are what make Pisgah so special to me; they make up my story.  The Pisgah Conservancy will make sure that the Pisgah Story endures forever.