Blue Ridge Grotto of the NSS


March 21, 2014 – Vinton Firehouse


Meeting began 7:36p

Marian McConnell - Chair                  Susan Burr                             Al Stewart                              Pat Sims                

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

Dave Socky – Vice Chair                     Jen Perdue                            Dusty Gulden                        *Becky Frederickson

Stephanie Petri – Treas.                     Carl Cornett                          *Jeff Huffman                       *Renee Rowland

*Michael Rowland                               *Christopher Rowland        *Laura Rowland                   *Sarah Rowland  

*Paul Rowland                      * denotes guest.


Trip Reports:

2/22/2014:  Grotto trip to Porter Cave, VA.  Participants: David Socky, Carl Cornett, Doug Feller, Susan Burr, Michael Roland, and Christopher Roland.  We took the whole group through the Keyhole and into the Big Room, doing all the little climb ups and climb downs.  We found our way all the way to the upstream end of the cave, getting into a section I hadn’t been to before.  There was very deep pooled water.  Because of the difficulty of doing one climb, we gave up on doing the loop that bypassed the Keyhole.  We then went down stream to where the stream sinks (the water was up a bunch), and then back over to look at the Big Slit.  From there, it was a simple 10 minutes to the entrance.


2/22: Marian McConnell and Mary Sue Socky went up to Melrose Caverns, VA.  Marian met with Meredith Weberg and other members of the Virginia Cave Board.  Mary Sue did more “pick up shards of glass” work in Melrose Caverns with Carol Tiderman, Scott Davis, Bob Thren, etc.  and everyone got to tour Melrose once the VA Cave Board meeting was over.  Oh yeah, Meredith and Carol ran and HID IN THE CAVE, so Mary Sue had to talk on camera with a local NBC affiliate about cave conservation. 


3/7: Cyndi Hutchison and Carl Cornett met with their Extreme Rappels group, spent the weekend at “the Handley Hilton” and Lost World Caverns, WV where they and a dozen people rappelled and ascended the panoramic 110’ Grapevine Drop.   Another group visited the wild section of Lost World Caverns. 


3/8: Stephanie Petri, John Christy, Wes NLN, Brian Williams, Chrissy NLN, and Scott McCrea went caving for the weekend in Washington Co, VA. Very friendly cave owner is a former caver; he welcomes Cavers! They dug for a potential back entrance to Cyclops Cave, VA.  They will be going back.


3/11: Dave and Mary Sue Socky went to check the lock on New Dixie Cave, VA.  They found it was rusted shut.  Mary Sue checked out Dixie Caverns in preparation for the cleanup.


3/15: Manatee Springs, FL – 1 hour - Cavern Dive.  Participants: David Socky, Brian Williams, and Stephanie Petri. Brian and I did the Catfish Hotel Sink, going down to about 60 or 70 feet and into the cave about 200 feet or so.  A through trip can be done between Catfish Hotel Sink and Manatee Spring, but I didn't feel ready to try something like that, especially since the current is pretty strong at the exit (going out).  Brian had me do a quick dive line lesson at a higher level undercut.  I managed to mess up the dive line.  We were down for about 45 minutes.  Stephanie got a quick informal lesson from Brian on the basics of scuba and even was able to do some buddy breathing from Brian’s set of regulators. Stephanie had no problems, evidenced by the fact that she was busy taking photos at -40 feet.


3/16: Buford Spring, FL – 1 hour - Cavern Dive.  Participants: David Socky, Brian Williams, and Woody Vinzant.  This was a cool spring which is accessible only through a swamp.  It was an interesting trek - not easy to walk-through.  Once at the spring, we got geared up.  Woody went in first.  When I was down about 30 feet I saw Brian go back up.  It turned out his weight belt had come undone (but was held in place by his crotch strap).  While waiting, I saw Woody way down below me, so I went down.  Brian soon came down and we went down to about    -130 feet.  We could have gone deeper, about -170 feet, but Brian decided we were deep enough.  My limit was     -130 ft. for my certification.  We poked around for a little until there was about 4 minutes left before decompression would be needed.  We checked out cool ledges at around -40 ft. where there were cracks and crannies going back into darkness, but they were too small to follow.  I finally ascended.  As I came over to were Woody was waiting, he asked my where my GoPro (video camera) was?  Damn, it had fallen off my head and was down below someplace.  Woody was good enough to go down and actually found it against a wall at about -80 ft.


3/17: Lake Isis FL (south of Lakeland, FL) - 1.3 hours - Lake Dive.  Participants: David Socky, Brian Williams, Stephanie Petri, and Matt Vinzant.  This was Stephanie's check out dive #1.  Good dive.  I got my form down a lot better - horizontal swimming and using the frog kick.  The best part of this dive was all the fish.  Matt brought 2 cans of Vienna sausage which we used to feed the fish.  They were very aggressive – they would bite at the ends of your fingers.  Stephanie passed her check out dive.


 3/19:  Doug Feller easily cut off the old rusted lock to New Dixie Cave with an acetylene torch/tank assembly that Dave Socky lugged up to the cave entrance for Doug.  (A few days earlier, Dave tried to cut off the old lock with bolt cutters – no success.)  They gave the new gate key to the owner. 


3/20: Dave and Mary Sue Socky ventured out to Botetourt Co. VA to check out caves.  They found a bunch of sinkholes, one dig and one cave that was new to VSS.  The unnamed cave has about 50’ of passage.  BRG will return to survey and dig. 


Upcoming Trips:

3/22/2014:  March BRG trip.  Dave Socky will lead a vertical trip to New Dixie Cave, VA.

3/22/2014:  March BRG trip.  Mary Sue Socky will coordinate a cave cleanup in Dixie Caverns, VA.

3/23:  SRT at River Rock.  Dan & Marian McConnell are leaders.

3/24: Goodwin Cave.  Dave Socky is leader.

3/28-30:  Florida Cave Cavort, in central Fla.

4/11-13:  VAR at BOB in Bath Co. VA

4/19 grotto trip to: James Cave, VA.  Doug Feller is leader.

4/19:  Grand Caverns Conservation Restoration.  Meredith Weberg is leader. 

4/26:  BRG trip to Gray Fossil Site, NC.  Marian McConnell is leader.


 Program:  Videos from 2013 NSS Video Salon:  The Crystal, Vampire Cave, and Wet.




TREASURER’S REPORT (submitted by Stephanie Petri):

3/21/2014 Balance Sheet

Petty Cash                             110.00

General Fund                     3,580.21

Conservation                        266.55

Equipment                             235.36

Cave Bucks                            199.30

TOTAL BALANCE:     $4391.42


NEWSLETTER –Thanks for the articles! Printing prices have gone up, so has postage. Thanks to members who have gone “totally electronic” to keep prices down.  Extra DUMP hardcopies are available at meetings.

MEMBERSHIP –We have 51 members and 4 subscribers for 2014.  See Susan Burr for your Membership packets.  Leftover packets will be mailed. Please send in member updates.  Bring folks interested in caving to BRG meetings.

ROCKS – Thanks to Mr. Arrington, who sought out cavers to check the caves on his Botetourt Co. VA property via CraigsList?  There are a bunch of sinkholes, a spring, one dig and one cave that was new to VSS.  The unnamed cave has about 50’ of passage and needs to be surveyed.  BRG will return to survey and dig BRG cavers need better survey gear and more surveyor trainees. 

SAFETY & TECHNIQUES –Next SRT @ River Rock will be 3/23/2014.  Dan and Marian McConnell are instructors.  (Class was full by the end of the meeting.)


MEMBERSHIP PROPOSALS Sharon Mohney, sponsored by Dave Socky, 2nd by Stephanie Petri.  Sharon could not be present at the meeting due to work.  No problem!  Sharon Mohney was voted in as BRG’s 52nd member for 2014.  No other new membership proposals. 


Old Business

·         Natural Bridge of Virginia finally re-opened March 15, 2014. Has been bought by the Virginia Conservation Legacy Fund; the Bridge will eventually become a state park.   The hotel, cottages and caverns will remain in VCLF control.

·         The NSS wants COG issues for the Convention.  Deadline is 4/15/2014.  If you have an item, send it to them.

·         New Grotto Survey Gear (Dave Socky).   Dave reports that the old set of Suuntos have died, and it would cost as much to fix them as to get new gear.  Would BRG be interested in purchasing new survey equipment?  Current prices: Disto = $245.00.  Compass, Clinometer, or Tandem = $200.00.   Full set of Survey equipment = $430.00 to $534.00  


Susan Burr proposed a $500.00 limit for the gear purchase; purchase needed equipment first.  2nd by Stephanie Petri.


Discussion:  Mary Sue Socky is ok with a new compass, clinometer, but feels the Disto is a pricey toy.

Dave Socky says the Disto is durable, water and shock resistant.

Pat Sims wanted to know when is this equipment going to be used, and by who?  It would be used during grotto survey training sessions, grotto survey projects, and BRG members could check the equipment out.


VOTE:  BRG directs Dave Socky to move ahead, purchase up to $500.00 of new survey equipment.

        8= YES                    2=NO.                  Motion passes, Dave will move ahead.    




·         July 14-18 is the NSS Convention.  July 18 is BRG meeting.  Should we move the meeting date?    Membership decided to cancel meeting in July, and see if we can reserve the Firehouse for Aug. 15 (providing there are no Vinton Town Festivals – checked, no festivities scheduled.)


·         2014 BRG Rescue Roster – Keep your old “lime green” copy of the Rescue Roster, add a “2014” to the cover, and attach the 2014 membership list.  Only big change is Trish is now in Richmond.  L

·         New River Cave, Giles Co VA is to be the 14th Cave Preserve of the NSS!  Practically in our backyard!   A Preserve Committee is forming under the guidance of Gary Moss.  If you would like to be on this committee, please contact Nick Socky (who is helping G. Moss) at

·         NSS Members – remember to VOTE for the BOG Officers!  Voting ends June 6, 2014.

·         Mary Sue Socky wishes to borrow grotto gear for the 3/22 cleanup, the 3/24 trip to Goodwin Cave, and for her class talks Apr. 7-8.  No problems.   






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

·         March 28-30, 2014 Weekend Beginner Cave Rescue class.  Mock will be in Fountain Cave.  CLASS IS FULL

·         Spring VA April 11-13, 2014.  See VAR Webpage or CARBIDE DUMP for registration form. 

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

·         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.

·         Stephanie Searle, NSS Office Manager, has resigned.    


Meeting adjourned at 8:57p. 


Minutes Submitted by

Mary Sue Socky  BRG Secretary