We are the person who gets off work early and heads straight for a waterfall.
We are the parent who brings their kid to a waterfall so both of them can play in the water.
We are the photographer who already has a dozen photos of a waterfall, yet returns to get just the right shot.
We are the kid looking for salamanders who starts frowning when mom and dad says they must go back.
We are the person who can’t contain their excitement when seeing a waterfall for the first time.
Waterfall Keepers of North Carolina is not a board of directors and staff. We are a community of waterfall lovers across North Carolina and elsewhere, all dedicated to the wellbeing of waterfalls and waterfallers. With that said, somebody must step away from the spray long enough to keep things running.
This is us:
Executive Director & Founder
I’m a naturalist, writer, teacher, and photographer who has had a lifelong love affair with nature and the outdoors. Some 35 years ago, I started channeling that obsession to photography, and since then, I’ve authored nine books, led photo tours all over the world, taught seminars and workshops, and given countless programs about photography and the outdoors. My mother, Phoebe Lorretta Adams, instilled the love of waterfalls in me at an early age and she inspired my first book, North Carolina Waterfalls, published in 1994. Since that time, waterfalls, particularly North Carolina waterfalls, have been a constant part of my life. I’ve always tried to be a good steward for the waterfalls, but with the explosion of people visiting them in these social media times, I feel that more needs to be done, not just by me, but from waterfall lovers across the state. That’s why I created Waterfall Keepers Of North Carolina. It’s time for me to give something back to the waterfalls that have so enriched my life. I live in the splendid mountains of western North Carolina with wife, Patricia, our mischievous cats, Lucy and Titan, a bunch of groundhogs that have dens all over the place, eight chickens, a couple of deer that come into the yard and eat our apples, I don’t know how many rabbits, and at any given time, raccoons, foxes, coyotes, opossums, and countless birds. Also, we have some really cool slime molds that grow in our mulch.
Associate Director & Cofounder
I am a North Carolina native who grew up at the beach and visited the mountains every year. After earning my Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematics at the University of North Carolina in Wilmington, I followed my heart to Asheville. After a couple of years, another adventure took me to California, where I earned my Master of Arts degree in Mathematics at San Diego State University. That’s also where my passion for waterfalls began. In 2014, I returned to the coast of North Carolina, but found myself constantly running to the mountains, seeking out waterfalls and camping every other weekend. It wasn’t long before I relocated once again, this time to Hendersonville in western North Carolina, where you will now find me creek-walking to waterfalls and on the trails with a trash bag in hand. Nothing makes me happier than approaching a waterfall for the first time and taking it all in. I usually wade right in the pool and soak up the beauty. I love to take my time and see all the things around me and learn all I can while in the woods. I teach mathematics part-time and homeschool my son. We spend a lot of time on trails, in creeks, and in the woods learning about critters, wildlife, vegetation, and safety. My passion for waterfalls and education, my desire to help the environment, and my love for teaching children and sharing the natural world with them made it a no-brainer for me to help organize and direct Waterfall Keepers Of North Carolina. I’m so excited to utilize my passions and skills to benefit North Carolina’s waterfalls and the people who visit them, especially the kiddos!
I grew up in both Michigan and North Carolina: two places filled with abundant natural, wild beauty. From a young age, my family instilled in me the responsibility to love and care for nature. I began my higher education at Brevard College, where I learned many lifelong lessons about environmental conservation and stewardship while studying in the shadow of Pisgah National Forest. I hold a bachelor’s degree in English Education and a master’s degree in English/Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages and am currently working on a master’s degree in Appalachian Studies. In addition to being an educator, I have enjoyed a dual career working seasonally in ecotourism and international hostel management in Puerto Rico. I am married to Ronald, who often helps with WKNC events, and have three step-children (or, as I prefer to call them, my sweet-children!) We live in the foothills of South Carolina, where we enjoy camping, hiking, biking, kayaking, and music-making activities. Before joining WKNC, I worked in the non-profit realms of refugee resettlement, international relations, and disaster relief following the 2017 hurricane season in the Caribbean. I am motivated by the creation of a more equitable society for all—none of which is possible unless we are able to preserve and share our natural resources!
Science & Education Coordinator
I moved to North Carolina from Ohio in 2019 with my husband, Roy. We live in Asheville with our chihuahua, Leia, and our cat, Avett. My love of hiking, mountains, and waterfalls (and southern food) brought me here and it truly feels like home! My passion for science started as a child, growing up in a log cabin in the woods and taking water samples from our pond. I received my undergraduate degree in psychology and then a master’s in zoology with a focus in entomology. I started my career working with animals at the Cincinnati Zoo and Newport Aquarium — helping to raise baby flamingos and train Asian small clawed otters were my favorite moments! Then I realized my calling to environmental education and stream ecology as Education Coordinator for the Ohio River Foundation. There I created the first Mussels in the Classroom program in the nation and organized field trips to educate students about water quality and macroinvertebrates, two of the things I’m most passionate about. Although I haven’t been in North Carolina long, I’ve spent as many days as possible at waterfalls and found them to be a healing power in my life. I’m so excited to help others appreciate the beauty of waterfalls and the environmental impact we can make together!
Board of Directors
I was born in Raleigh in 1953, grew up in the region, and attended North Carolina State University. Shortly after my wife Debbie and I had our first two daughters, we left the girls with my parents and took our first trip to the North Carolina mountains. We visited Drift Falls, Turtleback Falls, Rainbow Falls and Stairstep Falls, all on the Horsepasture River. That was our first exposure to the wonderful waterfalls of North Carolina. Trips out west were infrequent in those early days, but as the second set of kids came along, we gradually began to venture out more. New friendships have been developed through these many years, including with folks like Kevin Adams, Rich Stevenson, and Bernie Boyer, who all have been gracious with sharing information. There have been many special moments, such as when the view of a waterfall first opens before me, perhaps as I crest a hill, reach the edge of cliff, or glimpse the first flashes of white through the trees. This is exciting enough when alone, but hardly matches the joy and satisfaction of seeing the expressions on faces and hearing the exclamations of family and friends when first they see the beauty for themselves. To take a group of young adults to climb behind a waterfall and stand behind the solid sheet of falling water, hearing one of them say, “This is the coolest thing I’ve ever done”; to see an old arthritic friend make his way down the rocky trail to Crabtree Falls and watch him stand in awe of its beauty, pull out his phone, call his wife, and hold the phone up so that she can hear the singing of the falls; to take my son to see the dam release at High Falls and unexpectedly bump into Kevin and his wife, and then later that same day to meet Bernie for the first time and have him escort us to his namesake waterfall; to have a four-year-old granddaughter look up at me and say, “Poppi, can you take us to see a water fountain?”–these, and so many other memories will, I hope, remain with me forever. I have worked almost 44 years in the Plasma Fractionation industry, and this has provided me the resources to make the many journeys out west and see hundreds of waterfalls. I am so happy to have seen these falls with my wife, my children, my grandchildren, and friends. I look forward to continuing this journey for many years to come.
I am a retired registered nurse, currently living in Transylvania County. My full-time job, now that I’m retired, is hiking and exploring the amazing outdoor treasures in this area of the country. I was born and raised in Detroit, and unlike my siblings who thrived in the big city, I hated every bit of urban living. Once I graduated from college, I lived in progressively smaller locales, from Lexington, KY, to Berea, KY, and now in Brevard, NC. Initially a hiker who hiked “to get somewhere” (the destination being the goal of the hike), once introduced to off-trail hiking, I became hooked on the adventure and discovery that awaits a hiker once they leave a designated trail. At this point, I’m definitely a “stop and smell the roses” type of hiker (discovery being the goal of the hike), who is lucky to average one mile per hour over the course of a day’s hike.
I am a former elementary school teacher, tennis teaching pro, and real estate developer. Raised in Memphis, TN in the heart of the Delta, I have been trying to get to the mountains my whole life. In 2016, after living 21 years in Greenville, SC, I moved with my husband and two teenage children to Sapphire, NC in the “Land of Waterfalls.” Being able to walk out the door into Nantahala National Forest or across the road to Gorges State Park to hike and chase waterfalls has been a dream come true. I write about and photograph the places where we camp in our Sprinter van, and about our hikes, to inspire others to experience these places for themselves, or at least get outdoors. For those who aren’t able to do either, I share these experiences on my blog to take them there virtually. Nature is now my classroom. My passion for the outdoors and experiences, my teaching tools.
I am a retired environmental lawyer who practiced in Minneapolis for 40 years. I live in Waynesville, NC in spring and fall, and in Minnesota in summer and winter. I lobbied for many of Minnesota’s environmental laws and led the fight in the 1970s to increase the Wilderness protection for the Boundary Waters Wilderness. I was named Environmentalist of the 70’s Decade by the North Star Chapter of the Sierra Club. Since my retirement, I have worked with environmental groups on energy and global warming issues, and I’m a frequent speaker on climate change. My children’s photo book, Secrets of the Loons, was published in 2020 by the Minnesota Historical Society.
I grew up in rural New England exploring the woods, creeks, and streams around my home. Family vacations spent camping strengthened a love of the outdoors that continued to grow over the years. After earning a BS with a double major in Outdoor Education and Park Management (Lock Haven University, PA) I forged a 30-year career as a ranger in the National Park Service. My spirit for adventure led to stints at six different park units from coast to coast, the last 16 years at Great Smoky Mountains National Park. I’m an avid hiker who loves to share my joy of the outdoor environment with people I meet.
A lifelong North Carolina resident, my career in tourism promotion started during college at the NC Transportation Museum. After college, I moved to Wilmington to manage a photography store and lab in the historic downtown. Next, I headed back to the Piedmont to help reopen Chinqua-Penn Plantation museum in Reidsville–directing ticketing, events, and public relations. I began promoting the western North Carolina mountains as marketing director of Richmond Hill Inn in 1997. While at the inn, I created RomanticAsheville.com Travel Guide in 2003. By 2018, that website covered 16 counties and received 5.5 million visits annually, while reaching another million people monthly on social media. The most popular section on RomanticAsheville.com was the Top 60 Waterfall Guide. I donated more than a million dollars of free promotion to 200 non-profits. I received the CHARLES KURALT AWARD by the NC Travel Industry Association for bringing exceptional, positive public attention to North Carolina. I sold RomanticAsheville.com in 2019 and now focus on marketing and communication projects for hotels, inns, restaurants and destinations. I live in Banner Elk with my husband, David.
My love affair with waterfalls began in 1998 when friends in Lake Toxaway invited me up from Raleigh to go hiking. They had a copy of Kevin Adams’ first waterfalls book and had been using it to visit waterfalls in the area. We first visited Rainbow, Turtleback, and Drift Falls and I was hooked! We explored more waterfalls during the long weekend and all I could think about on my return trip to Raleigh was when my next trip to the mountains would be. America Online was popular then and I was a member. I decided I would use the whopping 2MB of web space I had and start a website about North Carolina waterfalls. Every vacation from then on was planned around visiting waterfalls and I soon ran out of space on my website. In 2001, I purchased the domain ncwaterfalls.com. In 2003, I couldn’t stand not living in the mountains anymore. I quit both my jobs and moved my life to the Asheville area. It was probably the best decision I had made at that point in my life. I had not yet met Kevin Adams, but was still using the first edition of his waterfall book to visit waterfalls. I had also begun to find waterfalls on my own that weren’t in his book. Little did I know that Kevin was working on the second edition of his book and had found my website. He emailed me in 2005 saying we needed to get together, talk waterfalls, and compare notes. That was such a thrill for me and that’s when our friendship began. In 2010, I met a wonderful woman in Cades Cove in Great Smoky Mountains NP. We hit it off immediately. We bought a home together in Hendersonville and were married in 2012. Cindy and I are both retired now and spend a lot of time traveling the country. I have always had a passion for gardening, so we’ve spent the last few years converting our yard into a pollinator and wildlife habitat. If I’m not on the trail, I’m usually in the yard working or chasing bugs around with the camera. I am very humbled to be a part of Waterfall Keepers of North Carolina. I’m excited to work with this great group of people to help preserve the beauty of North Carolina’s waterfalls and to raise awareness of how waterfalls and nature in general can be therapeutic and ease the stress of everyday life.