Blue Ridge Grotto of the NSS


March 15, 2013 - 7:30p – Vinton Firehouse



Dave Socky –Vice                 Susan Burr                             Pat Sims                                 Marian McConnell – Chair

Trish Geiger                          Mary Sue Socky – Sec.        Al Stewart                              Stephanie Petri – Treas.

*Thomas Mitchell                Carl Cornett                          *Ivy Lidstone                        Cyndi Hutchison

*Eric Hill                                *Adam Dorris                       *David Tudge

* denotes guest.


Trip Reports:

2/23/2013: Pat Sims, Doug Feller & Susan Burr were going to take a group of Roanoke College students to Paxton Cave, VA. When they arrived at the College, there were 8 participants. After kicking half of them out for NOT having boots or proper clothes (long pants) they were down to 4. Susan reported “Since Pat & Doug & I were already there we decided we would still take them on the trip.  We watched them all get their helmets assigned to them. I even told the girl last time to always take an extra helmet or two. When we arrived at the cave they got out of the van & asked if we had an extra helmet. Apparently they forgot a helmet. I cancelled the trip right then & once I sent them on their way, Doug, Pat & I went caving. We played around in the front maze, finally figured out where we were, then Doug let me lead in. We did end up climbing up into the section to look for the Worm Garden, but of course we did not find it! We did a lot of crawling up there though. I would say we were in the cave about 2-3 hours. It was a quick, but fun trip. I did a pretty good job of knowing “exactly where we are!”


2/23/2013 Gap Cave, VA: David Socky, Stephanie Petri, Bob Alderson, Joe Zokaites, Matt Tomlinson.  Entered cave at 11:55am.  Split up into two groups. At end of the Little Big Room, Stephanie and Dave headed upstream past the turn off for Cascade Extension while the rest went to do the "Worm Hole" in the Big Dork area. Stephanie and David surveyed the crawlway at the end of the LX survey (171 feet) and then did the Bypass Crawl that bypasses the stream when you get down to the stream from the Little Big Room.  We headed out at 11:30pm and exited the cave at 3am.  Bob and others got out of the cave at 5am. 


2/23/2013:  Rescue in Norman Cave, WV.  Two new cavers from Northern NJ Grotto attempted a thru trip from Bone Cave to Norman Cave.  They got through the Devils Pinch, the maze, and got to the Norman waterfall, but could not figure out how to get up/around it, so they turned around, tried to retrace their steps, and got lost.  (They were SO Close to the Norman Entrance; if they had a third, experienced caver with them who knew the way, they would have had no problems.)  WVACS cavers did an initial search for the overdue cavers, and then called VPI Cave Club to help, with BRG as standby.  Nick Socky went up with VPI to search.  The lost cavers were found, everyone was out of the cave by 3a Sunday.  


3/9/2013 Maxwelton Cave, WV: Bob Alderson, David Socky.  Two person survey trip during WVACS Weekend.  They decided to tackle the area around the old Airport Entrance and the Hangar Room.  They climbed high, crawled through phreatic passage, kicked loose rocks, found “fan-like” rimstone dams, water, and a floor of black calcite.  They found an old climbing pole, too.  They left one high lead to check on another trip.  Their 9.5 hour survey trip netted 350 feet of passage.


3/8-10, 2013: Stephanie Petri and Brian Williams went to the Cave Cavort in Williston, FL.  They snorkeled in Ginny Springs/Santa Fe River, Blue Hole/Ichetucknee Springs. 


     3/9: Brian Williams, Stephanie Petri and several FLA cavers visited a “dry” cave, the Catacombs.  It was a 4 hour trip.  You have to squeeze thru the tiny gate opening, then prussic down a 70’ slope to the Florida aquifer!  It was gorgeous, clear, 70F blue water (blue water & springs denotes deep water).  Stephanie did not pee in the aquifer.  Oh yeah, there were lots of active, healthy bats in the Catacombs, and the fossils in the cave walls are incredible.  After that, Brian and Stephanie went to Archer, FL to visit a bunch of small “Archer Caves” amongst the Live Oaks

(Trip Reports – cont.)


and Spanish Moss.  They visited Catfish Cave, Alligator Lair, Dessert Cave (Brian’s favorite, contains nice draperies and flowstone) and Dolphin Cave.  In Dolphin Cave, Stephanie found almost complete stone crab fossils in the limestone walls.    

     3/10: They went “gator watching”, then got in the truck for a 9 hour drive back to VA.  Stephanie hopes to make a program on her most excellent journey.


3/13/2013: Nick Socky, Tommy Poulson, Daniel Bishop, Calvin Long, and a Park Ranger checked out several small caves in ”The Cedars” area of Lee Co. VA during “Filthy Young Women” (FYW).  They were exploring the longest cave, a 200-footer, and found a 20’ pit in the back.  Nick and Tommy did a hasty rappel into the pit to check for leads at the bottom (it did not go) and then discovered – they could not hand-over-hand up the webbing.  Still, they tried for an hour or so.  The folks at the top were very entertained.  The Park Ranger went for help.  Wil Orndorff appeared about an hour later, with a rope, harness, and full climbing gear.  Nick and Tommy owe Wil and VPI a keg over this rescue.  BTW, the cave shall be known as Lesson Learned Cave, VA.


Upcoming Trips:

·         3/16: Grotto Ridgewalk: BRG will visit Blue Ridge Vineyards to check out caves on the property.  There is a sinkhole at the top of a hill, and a possible resurgence.  Marian McConnell is trip leader.  Carl Cornett will bring a rope, in case they find vertical caves. 

·         3/23:  Susan Burr will be leading a beginner cave trip to Porter Cave, VA.  Contact Susan if you want to go caving.

·         4/19: BRG trip planned to Poor Farm Cave, Greenbrier Co. WV.  Pat Sims is leader. 

·         5/18: There will be many cave trips offered at Spring VAR. Go caving!

·         6/22: possible rescheduled trip to Steele’s Cave, WV.  Dave Socky is leader.


Program:  the second half of video “Blanchard Springs Caverns, AR”.  Beautiful commercial cave!




TREASURER’S REPORT (Stephanie Petri):

3/15/2013 Balance Sheet

Petty Cash                             110.00

General Fund                     3,824.94

Conservation                        266.59

Equipment                             225.36

Cave Bucks                            164.30

TOTAL BALANCE:     $4,481.19


NEWSLETTER – Thanks for the artwork and articles! Extra hardcopies of the DUMP are available at meetings.

MEMBERSHIP – See Susan Burr to pick up your membership packets.  BRG has 50 members, 3 subscribers. 

ROCKS –tomorrow is the Botetourt Co. search for caves.

SAFETY & TECHNIQUES – Dan will set up vertical sessions at Catawba Murder Hole if people want to practice.  Also, thank you to everyone who volunteers for cave rescue call outs!


MEMBERSHIP PROPOSALS – Ivy Lidstone submitted her membership letter.  Carl Cornett is sponsoring Ivy, and proposed her membership in BRG. Susan Burr seconded.  Ivy’s membership is tabled until the next meeting. 



·         Dixie Caverns Cleanup – no word from Dixie.  Mary Sue Socky will inquire.

·         BSA Troop 221 cave presentation went well.  Cave trip?  Probably nothing until the fall.


(Old Business – continued)


·         BRG Grant Proposal: “Should BRG offer a small grant to members who wish to further their training/rescue skills, provided the attendee will share their knowledge/skills with the grotto?  Discussion:

o     Pat Sims does not think it is a good idea; it would “open a can of worms” and may cause problems, favoritism, BRG money should not go toward individual equipment or advancement. 

o    Dave Socky suggested that perhaps BRG could put a cap on the amount.

o    Pat Sims would agree to a “student-type grant” for someone who is destitute and really needs the money. 

o    Marian suggested that, BRG cavers can privately help each other.  Since there is resistance to the proposal, we should “put this discussion on the shelf”.  Proposal is tabled indefinitely. 




·         Rick Lambert of VSS has contacted Mary Sue Socky to see if BRG would be interested in helping re-mark the Breathing Cave trail blazes.  Do we want to help?  BRG members want to help, with marking, getting rid of downed trees, etc.  Good dates would be April 13, April 14.  MSS will get back with Rick on the offer of help, and dates. 

·         River Rock Climbing Wall opened 3/13/2013.  Carl Cornett went to check it out, said it was small, but nice, with reasonable rates.  Perhaps BRG can rent it for a vertical training session. 

·         Victoria Keenum of the BRFAL chapter of VA Master Naturalist contacted Mary Sue Socky, wants an outreach on bats, a cave trip, and educational posters, handouts.  Her requests would be at least three outreaches (not sure what she wants).  She said she will get back with BRG.  Marian mentioned this group might be happier with a “Project Underground” workshop.

·         Some BRG lights need replacing.  They have black MOLD growing in the reflectors!  BRG voted 9 yes, 1 no to replace three lights with the $15.00 Energizer lights at Wal-Mart. 

·         Susan Burr requested that she be able to borrow helmets, lights for her upcoming beginner cave trip.  BRG OK’d the request.

·         A new animated movie, “The Croods” (DreamWorks) about a family of cave people is coming to theaters.  Would we like to have another “BRG at the Movies” date?  YES, Marian will check into dates and times.




·         NEW WNS Decon protocols – HOT water (122 F) for 20 min. will kill WNS spores

·         Spring VAR is now May 17-19, 2013, @ Camp Buckskin, near Marlinton, WV.  Hosted by Tri-State Grotto.

·         NO May 17 BRG meeting.  Go to Spring VAR instead! 

·         Spring MAR has moved its date to May 4-5, 2013 so it will not conflict with Spring VAR. 

·         NSS Convention 2013 will be in Shippensburg, PA, Aug 5-9, 2013.  Forms on desk.  Mail in your registration with a check today to save the NSS money. Pre-registration special discount ends 1/31/2013.

·         MURDER HOLE book by Marian McConnell is available and is selling like hotcakes! 

o    Marians next book signing is 7p, March 19, 2013, at the Fincastle Library. 

o    Marian’s next book signing is 7p, April 15, 2013, at the Salem Historical Society. 

o    NSS members can get discount if they order MURDER HOLE through the NSS Office.  


Meeting adjourned at 8:55p. 



Minutes Submitted by

Mary Sue Socky

BRG Secretary