Blue Ridge Grotto of the NSS


October 18, 2013 - 7:30p – Vinton Firehouse


Meeting began 7:38p



Marian McConnell – Chair                 Bob Alderson                        Al Stewart                              Jen Perdue

Mary Sue Socky – Sec.                        Bob Gulden                           Nicole Gulden                       Doug Feller

Dave Socky – Vice Chair                     Dusty Gulden                        *Heather Bostic                   *Bill Walker

Stephanie Petri – Treas.                     *Mariah Kelly                       *Todd Martin                        * Shawn Daugherty

* denotes guest.

Trip Reports:


8/24:  Bob Alderson, Stewart Daw, Natalie Pheasant went to Gap Cave, VA.  They tried connecting a pit to nearby Cliff Cave.  They found old saltpeter digs, and old Civil War signatures in Gap Cave.  Bob checked out a fissure; Natalie climbed a scaling pole lead.  (Neither went).  Then they visited Cliff Cave, VA.  Cliff Cave is small, with a couple of nuisance drops.  They looked for ladders, checked out leads, and retrieved project ropes that had been left in the cave from previous trips.  One rope had been in the cave for four years, and had become “crunchy” – it had a patina of calcite deposited on it!  The trip ended with them carrying 400’ of rope back to the field station. 


9/21:  BRG trip to Maxwelton Cave, WV.  Good five hour trip, although there was a strong smell of diesel fuel throughout parts of the cave.  Went to the Latte Room and toward the collapsed entrance.  Stephanie Petri, Dave Socky, Doug Feller, Susan Burr also went downstream of Cove Creek a bit and took photos at the big flowstone (Reported petroleum smell to Carroll Bassett.)  (Next weekend, smell was gone.)


Labor Day Weekend Caving

Bob Alderson, Terry McClanahan, Adam Lake and other D.C. grotto folks visited several WVa caves over Labor Day.

8/31: Brier Pit, WV (located above Piercy’s Mill Cave).  Also did two obscure pits, Babble # 1 and Babble # 2.  Note: hiking in WVa in late summer is NOT fun – lots of briers & nasty brush in the overgrown fields around the caves.

9/1: Bob Alderson, Corey (NLN), Terry McClanahan visited Curry Pit, WV. This trip involved LOTS of hiking to and fro.  They finally found the 100’ pit; its bottom was full of bones. 

9/1: Bob Alderson & Terry McClanahan did Grapevine Pit, and the ‘wild areas’ off-trail at Lost World Caverns, WV. 


9/26:  Bob Alderson, Vonnie Droms and Marc Minton checked the sump in Savannah Cave, WV.  The water was low at the bottom of the 80’ pit.  They also went ‘spelunking’ in Poor Farm Cave, WV, during Fall VAR/YTR. 


10/5: Stephanie Petri, Brian Williams, Bill Walker did a ridgewalk through the Falls Ridge Preserve (owned by TNC, Montgomery Co. VA) Beautiful travertine waterfall, lots of karst features!  They looked all over for cave entrances.


10/5:  Mary Sue Socky, Bob Thren, and the rest of the GRAND crew showed up for the last weekend that Fountain Cave, VA was open for the 2013 season.  Work on the dig continued, resurvey of the Entrance Room (Nature’s Nursery) continued, as well as photo inventory and a study of old torch marks throughout the cave. 


10/5:  VMA.  Bob Alderson, (Vonnie Droms, Mark Minton) went to the Warner Noisy Blower dig in Germany Valley WV.  They broke out into a nice room that had some drops.  They pushed the fissure ceiling and a hole in the floor.  There will be a return trip to work more on the pit.


10/12: Nicole and Dusty Gulden visited Snedegar’s Saltpeter Cave (Friars Hole Cave Preserve) WV for an interesting experiment.  They took in night vision goggles and a helmet cam.  The night vision goggles are amazing!  One tea light every 50’ or so, and the entrance room is “lit up” through the goggles!


10/12: Dave Socky, Vanessa Krabacher, Tommy Polson, Chris Walsh went to Maxwelton Cave WV for a WVACS survey trip.  They resurveyed passage for the lost ‘SIN’ survey: 706’ of mostly dry walking passage in a 14 ½ hour trip. The diesel fuel smell in the cave was gone!  Vanessa took a nap, and collected amphipods for Dr. Dan Fong.



(TRIP REPORTS – cont.)


TAG Fall Cave-In

Brian Williams, Bill Walker, and TAG Virgin Stephanie Petri.  (Aaron Moses was also at TAG)

10/10: On the way down, Brian & Steph stuck one foot in the entrance to Howard’s Waterfall Cave, GA.

10/11: BBS did Neversink, AL (165’), Stephanie’s biggest drop to date.   They also toured Tumblin’ Rock Cave, AL; a nice 6 hour cave trip, visiting The King’s Shower, Topless dome, Christmas Tree areas, then went all the way back to the Pillar of Fire. 

10/12: BBS did “Martin Springs” ridgewalk.  Martin Springs is a resurgence a the bottom of the ridge.  They found the Martin Spring High Hole, TN (upper entrance), just dropped the 115’ pit. (Could not find the way on to the big cave) then they found and explored Martin Springs Low Hole, TN, - walk-in entrance, 500’ of walking passage, then short nasty crawl to a terminal sump. 

10/13: Brian & Stephanie visited Stephen’s Gap Cave, AL.  Stephanie did an incredible drop through the Keyhole onto the Pedestal.  Then they headed back to VA.


10/15:  Dave Socky, Rebecca Stewart, Ellen Koertge did a bio survey of the first three rooms of Goodwin Cave, Roanoke Co. VA.  They did see a frog and a salamander, and numerous isopods, but no bats.  They left “bug traps’ baited with limburger cheese.  They will return in a week to check the traps.  Rebecca and Ellen are graduate students working for VA DCR.   



Upcoming Trips:

·         10/19:  BRG trip to Culverson Creek Cave, WV.  Doug Feller is leader.  They will attempt a thru trip from the Wild Cat Entrance to the McLaughlin Entrance.  Be prepared for muddy and wet cave passage!

·         10/19-20: Roanoke Valley GO-Fest, down by the Roanoke River.  Free.

·         November BRG trip (11/16?) No one thought of a cave, or a leader.  To Be Determined…


 Program:  Slide show of the 2013 NSS Photo Salon.  Excellent award winning photos! 





TREASURER’S REPORT (submitted by Stephanie Petri):

10/18/2013 Balance Sheet

Petty Cash                             110.00

General Fund                     3,676.71

Conservation                        266.55

Equipment                             235.36

Cave Bucks                            194.30

TOTAL BALANCE:     $4,482.82



NEWSLETTER –Thanks for the articles!  We need covers.  Extra hardcopies of the DUMP are available at meetings.

MEMBERSHIP –Will be voting on Heather Bostic’s membership. Bring folks interested in caving to BRG meetings. 

ROCKS – BRG surveyors will survey 2 caves (Church Cave, Little Pipe Cave) in Roanoke Co. this Sunday. (DRSocky).  SAFETY & TECHNIQUES – Due to Dan’s out of town work schedule, nothing will be done until after January 2014.


MEMBERSHIP PROPOSALS Heather Bostic, NSS # 65348, sponsored by Susan Burr, 2nd by Stephanie Petri.  Since Susan was not at the BRG meeting, Stephanie Petri acted as Heather’s sponsor surrogate, and Heather was voted in by acclimation.  No other new membership proposals. 


Old Business

·         Porter’s Tree:  Glen Todd (RASS) Oct. 26, 2013 to remove the tree over the Porter’s Cave Gate.   Meet at cave 10a, be prepared for digging, cutting, dragging, and caving afterwards.  Contact Susan Burr to volunteer.

·         NSS Fundraising (Final Report)–Steph. Petri received a certificate for the “NSS Brick”.

·         Donation to Vinton Firehouse (final report). – Steph. Petri sent letter, check, stuff was mailed 10/2/2013).  Hopefully they got it. 

·         BRG BASH Kit – Alan Staton has volunteered to look at it, will recommend on restocking.  (Thanks, Alan!)

·         Want to buy a Bridge?  Natural Bridge, hotel, and cave are to be auctioned <New Date> Dec. 18, 2p.  


Old Business (cont.)


·         Roanoke City Go-Fest is Oct. 18-20. No one offered to run a booth for 3 days.  Mary Sue Socky offered check it out, though.

·         BRG will send Cave Owner Christmas Cards this year.  Nothing was submitted; Marian will try to bring a sketch next month (November).  Submit photos from cave trips, too! 




·         BRG Officer Nominations are in October.   Al Stewart made a motion to accept the current slate of officers and do a railroad job “by acclimation”.  Bob Gulden seconded.  Everyone refused to vote on the motion. 

·         Mary Sue Socky did a report on the VAR fall meeting (9/29/2013).  See attachment.

o    Of special note, please record what kind of bats, and how many you see underground, and tell Wil Orndorff!  Scientists can use this info to keep caves open for cavers. 

·         Marian McConnell is finding caves to check out from her “Murder Hole” book signings.  Several locals have invited her to check out caves on their property!

·         Motion:  We have three BRG members who are of the original group of cavers who founded BRG in Nov. 1969.  We honored Al Stewart with BRG Life Membership.  Mary Sue Socky proposed that we bestow FREE BRG Life Membership to founders Joey Fagan, NSS # 10666 and Joe Fagan, NSS # 11133.  (Joey’s wife Janice would have to pay $5.00/year as ‘family member”).   (Can’t tell you who seconded, but everyone vote for the motion).  Motion PASSED. 




·         10/25-27:  SEKCI, at Crane Nest, KY.  Contact John Taylor for more info. 

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

·         NSS Convention, July 14-18, 2014 will be in Huntsville, AL     it’s going to be a GOOD ONE!!

·         11/9/2013:  WVCC Banquet, Lewisburg WV.  $30.00 Guest speakers are Mike Futrell and Anna Ziegler. 

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

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


Meeting adjourned at 8:42p. 



Minutes Submitted by

Mary Sue Socky

BRG Secretary



Attachment – Fall VAR 2013 Meeting Notes   9/29/2013


Hosted by VPI Cave Club (John Echols, Sarah Crowder and Nick Socky)  THANK YOU!


Perfect weather, lots of cave trips. Good dinner, band. 

185 people attended.  (70 YTR,   115 VAR).  They broke even, or made a profit. 


Discussion on how host grotto collects $5 per person in the attendance fees for VAR, and host grottos need to turn over these totals to VAR if we are to have operating funds!   (Tidewater did not, have no idea what Rolland did with funds he collected). 


Conservation – Spring weekend at Grand was a success, well attended.  Please let Meredith know of other conservation happenings. 

·         BTW, Meredith would love to step down from VAR Conservation post. 

·         Old epoxy in Grand, Fountain Cave is failing after 10 years.  Need something that will work in our Appalachian environment. 


Anno:  Natural Bridge Auction, Tree removal @ Porter’s, Alex Sproul is in hospital, VSS has one cave more than WVSS.


Brian Massey has a WVASS database where you can put files, photos, maps, old survey data, etc.  Please get with your county coordinator and archive your data!!


Crystal Caverns @ Hupps Hill: On Oct. 5, Cedar Creek Foundation will sign a MOU with MAKC for cavers to manage the cave!  Front Royal will manage the cave.  What is needed is groups of cavers to provide management and conduct tours. (Small manager groups can camp on site.)  Hours currently 4 days a week, by appointment for bus tours, scouts and education groups.  For some reason, the MOU does not include use of the large building/classroom, only the gift shop/museum building. 

·         Motion made for VAR to support MAKC and Hupps Hill.  <Motion Passed.>


VCB:  Cave and Karst Trail Project.  Will include show caves, area karst features.  Trails are (a) SeLu Conservancy, Crystal Caverns, and Skyline Caverns.  Let Meredith Weberg know of additional sites that may be added to the project.  The next VCB Meeting will be in Christiansburg, VA on Nov. 9.


WNS and Caves:  Wil Orndorff reported:

·         The US Forest Service, WV DNR, USFW, and cavers are working on getting some caves reopened.  Progress is slow going…  Cave Mountain Cave (hibernaculum & nursery) might remain closed year-round.  (sounds like a ‘Sorry folks, we wanted to warn you’.)

·         Please, when you go caving,

o    Make note of what kind, and how many bats you see underground. 

o    Report your findings to Wil.  The cave scientists need data to keep the caves open! 

·         If Pips (tricolor bats) are listed as endangered, it will be a nightmare for cavers. 


Future VAR Registration Pricing.  MOTION:  RASS moves that VAR requests those grottos hosting future spring and fall VARs to price registration so that members of the NSS pay at least five dollars less than non-members of the NSS.  Both regions and grottos would indirectly benefit from greater membership in the NSS.  Future host grottos would retain the $5 or other premium for their internal purposes.  BATS seconds. 

Discussion:  Phil Ballister said “It would be a pain in the ass”!  The motion is fine for the NSS to dictate, but it will discourage new folks from attending VARs.  More discussion.  The question was called.  MOTION DID NOT CARRY.   (Ted Kayes and Cheryl Jones will try again in Spring 2014.)  (See entire motion at bottom of this page.)


Region Record:  Kyle Mills and Jessica Reep are new editors.  Their next deadline in Dec. 2013.


Spring VAR 2014: RASS,  No exact date yet (sometime in May 2014).  Will be held at BOB.

Fall VAR 2014:  Monongahela Grotto (their 50th anniversary).  @ Rich Mt. Battlefield, in Elkins WV, in October 2014.


Meeting adjourned 10:08a. 

Notes by MSSocky



Full Motion from Ted Kayes & Cheryl Jones:

The Richmond Area Speleological Society moves that the Virginia Region requests those grottos hosting future spring and fall VAR’s to price registration so that members of the NSS pay at least five dollars less than non-members of the NSS.


     Discussion:  It has been difficult to maintain membership in the NSS because of the economy and a variety of other reasons.  Providing a discount to NSS members attending a meeting of an internal organization (VAR) would enhance the visible benefits of membership in the NSS.

     Many other regional organizations charge a premium to non-members of the NSS attending their events.  Next month TAG Fall Cave In will be charging a premium for non-NSS members, as it has done for many years.

     Both regions and grottos would indirectly benefit from greater membership in the NSS.  Future host grottos would retain the $5 or other premium for their internal purposes.