Blue Ridge Grotto of the NSS


April 19, 2013 - 7:30p – Vinton Firehouse


Meeting began 7:38p



Dave Socky –Vice                 Pat Sims                                 Doug Feller                           Marian McConnell – Chair

Mary Sue Socky – Sec.        Dusty Gulden                        Nicole Gulden                       Stephanie Petri – Treas.

Jen Perdue                            Carl Cornett                          Susan Burr                             Cyndi Hutchison

David Rose                            Zan Rose                                *Heather Bostic                   *Bob Gulden

*Shawn Daugherty             

* denotes guest.


Trip Reports:

3/16: BRG went cave hunting and ridge walking at Blue Ridge Vineyards. David Socky, Stephanie Petri, Trish Geiger, Susan Burr, Pat Sims, Thomas Mitchell, Carl Cornett, Doug Feller, Marian McConnell chose a nice day for ridge walking. They checked out 6 caves, 2 of which might be new ones. The first two had been visited before. The two on the ridge may be new ones, and for the last two, one was a stream insurgence of about 100 feet long and was called Moonshiners Cave by the landowner. The other was a 20 foot pit just above the insurgence. From the VSS, Dave found that 4 of the 6 caves are known. Holiday Hole is Glenn Aerie Pit, the Sink hole dig is Glenn Aerie Sink Cave, Moonshiners Cave is Glenn Aerie Cave, and Leprechaun Hole is No Rope Cave. St Paddy's Pit is new. There was no mention of the short pit above Moonshiners Cave. All the 'Glenn Aerie' Caves and 'No Rope Cave' had maps all done by Bob Alderson.


3/16: Mary Sue Socky and Heather Bostic drove up to Melrose Caverns, VA for continuing conservation work. 


3/23: Susan Burr, Stephanie Petri, Adam Doriss, Ben Hester, Heather Bostic, Ihab Al Sadoon, Mike Meador and David Tudge went to Porter Cave, Bath Co. VA. The entrance was almost blocked by a giant downed tree, but they did get the gate open. They went through the Keyhole to the Big Room and back out, checked out the passages in the Cafeteria, up to the Big Slit, and everyone explored around Grand Avenue. Great beginner trip!


3/30: Marian McConnell, Carl Cornett and Ivy Lidstone took a Roanoke City Parks & Rec group to Island Ford Cave, VA. The cave was very clean, no trash to remove.


3/30: Dave Socky, Bob Alderson, Joe Calderone and Matt Tomlinson had a 17 ½ hour survey trip in the Worm Hole section and Big Dork area of Gap Cave, Lee Co. VA. They surveyed 371 feet of passage, and spent 17.35 hours underground. Joe Zokaites was not feeling well, so he stayed topside.


3/30: Lots of cavers met for the Grand Caverns Easter Restoration. Meredith Weberg, VAR Conservation co-chair had us doing all sorts of things, from hauling and spreading gravel in the cave (which Stephanie Petri did for a few hours) to weeding flowerbeds, working with caverns staff to update equipment, treating algae around lights in the cave, and feeding workers a nice lunch. Dinner was catered by Battarbee’s. Pretty day, we got lots accomplished.


4/12: Marian McConnell and Mary Sue Socky visited Liberty High School, Bedford Co. VA for a school-wide Earth Day Celebration. They had the Caving and Bats educational boards and pamphlets on display, talked about the importance of caves, groundwater, bats and WNS. Marian brought her Murder Hole books, and sang some of her cave songs, too. They reached one thousand people, (students and faculty) in one day!


4/13: Pat Sims, Bob Alderson and Susan Burr met Rick Lambert, Phil Lucas and Mark Hodge to clear and mark the new trail to Breathing Cave for 2013. After that, Mark, Susan, Bob and Pat took a tour of Helectite Cave, VA, to the Bullfrog Room.


4/13: Dave Socky, Brian Williams, Stephanie Petri did another fun trip into the wet part of Cove Creek and near the Six Foot Waterfall in Maxwelton Cave, WV. Wetsuits were definitely needed, as they had to lie in the water to take some of the shots. They pushed another low, wet crawl-way going downstream. It was very muddy and slippery with some spots as low as 9.5 inches. Dave reported “I finally got to a place in the stream which had about 6 inches of air space, but after 6 feet it dropped down to about 3 inches of air space with a total passage height of a foot. It continued that way for at least 30 to 40 feet until I couldn't see any further. I decided against going in there”. When they got back to station XZE6 side lead, the water coming out was muddy. “As we watched, the water cleared up. This is pretty good evidence that the two crawls connect”. Stephanie did crawl up the side lead at XZE6 for about 20 feet and reported that it continued as a belly crawl in water. They were underground for 9 hours and surveyed 260’ of passage. (Sounds like fun, only different)


Upcoming Trips:

·         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 trip to Lightner Entrance of McClungs Cave, WV (instead of Steele’s Cave, WV).  Dave Socky is leader.


Program:  a nice slide show of Stephanie Petri & Brian William’s recent April visit to the Florida Cave Cavort.  There ARE semi-dry caves in Florida! 




TREASURER’S REPORT (Stephanie Petri):

4/19/2013 Balance Sheet

Petty Cash                             110.00

General Fund                     3,966.97

Conservation                        266.59

Equipment                            235.36

Cave Bucks                            174.30

TOTAL BALANCE:     $4,753.23


NEWSLETTER – The selected covers from the 2012 CARBIDE DUMP have been sent in to the NSS Cover Art Salon.  Thanks for the artwork and articles! Extra hardcopies of the DUMP are available at meetings.

MEMBERSHIP – membership lists are available at meetings.  Bring folks interested in caving to the BRG meetings. 

ROCKS –the info from the Vineyard Caves has been sent to the VSS.  Marian has heard nothing from the owners of Henderson Cave.  Brian Williams wants to finish surveying Turtle Shell Cave. 

SAFETY & TECHNIQUES – Dan will set up vertical sessions at Catawba Murder Hole if people want to practice. 


MEMBERSHIP PROPOSALS – Ivy Lidstone, sponsored by Carl Cornett, was voted in as BRG’s newest member. 

Welcome, Ivy!   



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

·         Three new energizer lights were purchased as “grotto gear” to replace worn out lights.

·         BRG worked with VSS to upgrade the parking lot and trail to Breathing Cave, VA.  BRG agreed to pay for the markers, paint, and ($15 new) materials for the waiver box. (Approved this meeting).  We need to ‘settle up’ with Rick Lambert. 

·         BRG “night at the movies” – “The Croods” – is a GO, scheduled for this Sunday 4/21/13.   If it is not in the movie theater, then we will rent it and watch it at someone’s house.

·         Requests for cave presentations continue.  Mary Sue and Marian have and will be talking with school groups, scouts, and libraries in Franklin Co.     






·         Dave Socky has made updates to the BRG webpage – yay!  Please let Dave know what changes, additions you would like to see on the webpage. 

·         Mary Sue Socky brought up possible improvements to the BRG Beginner Cave Orientation program.  Several other grottos have an “orientation meeting” and require all new interested people to attend before they ever go caving.  After discussion, it was decided to keep things as they currently are with BRG – invite folks to meetings, have them sign up for trips, have a sponsor, bring required gear, Go Caving. 

·         Porter’s Tree:  Susan Burr brought up the downed tree over the entrance to Porter Cave, and asked if BRG would want to make an offer to the landowner to cut it up, remove other downed trees in the Porter Cave sinkhole and trail?  BRG voted YES.  Susan will make inquiry.  

·         NSS Fundraising – Susan Burr received a letter from the NSS, requesting money from BRG to help pay off the new NSS headquarters.  The letter says that the NSS currently has 62% of their goal to pay off the new mortgage.  What do they want from BRG – a one-time donation, or monthly payments?  Discussion ensued.  Nicole Gulden pointed out that the “monthly pledge” gets expensive.  TABLED, until more can be learned. 

·         BRG Cave Trip Guidelines – (orig. written 1990, have been revised from time to time.) Good basic document, needs updating, especially the “grotto gear” section (we no longer use carbide!).  The current ‘rules for use’, ‘sanctioned vs. non-sanctioned trips’, are confusing. 

Motion (by Pat Sims, seconded by Susan Burr) “ Any BRG member can request to check out gear on a first-come, first serve basis, but BRG trips have priority to use the gear”.  Motion passed.

Motion (by Pat Sims, seconded by Susan Burr) “Participants who cannot attend a BRG meeting may still sign up for the cave trip, at the discretion of the trip leader”.  Motion Passed.

Further changes to the Cave Trip Guidelines were TABLED until the next meeting.  Bring proposals to the June meeting.




·         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! 

·         A pissed off landowner has closed his caves to VAR.  More to come at VAR meeting.

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

·          River Rock Climbing Wall opened in March 2013. It is small, nice, with reasonable rates.  Perhaps BRG can rent it for a vertical training session

·         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.

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

o    Marian’s next book signing is 4p - 7p, June 13, 2013, Valley View Barnes & Noble in Roanoke, VA. 

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