Blue Ridge Grotto of the NSS


April 18, 2014 – Vinton Firehouse



Meeting began 7:38p

Marian McConnell - Chair                  Susan Burr                             Al Stewart                              Sharon Mohney                  

Mary Sue Socky – Sec.                        Carl Cornett                          Joseph Caldwell                    Doug Feller

Dave Socky – Vice Chair                     *Bill Walker                          *Colin Beck                           *Bill Keith

Stephanie Petri – Treas.                     *Jeff Huffman                                       * denotes guest


Trip Reports:

3/22/2014: Grotto trip to New Dixie Cave, VA.  Participants:  Dave Socky, Doug Feller, Susan Burr, Stephanie Petri, Jeff Huffman, Carl Cornett  Bill Walker, Phil Walker.  The old ladder is OK, still shaky and scary for the climb out.  Could not go, survey downstream – it was sumped.  So everyone went upstream to the right, saw the rest of the cave, and the pretty speleothem areas.


3/22:  BRG Conservation trip to Dixie Caverns, VA.  Mary Sue Socky, Jen Perdue, Nicole Gulden, Dusty Gulden and Bob Gulden reprised their earlier clean-up.  They blasted the “Green Thumb” at the base of the stairs.  It is green no more.  Jen Perdue scrubbed a lot of green away from the lights along Jacob’s Ladder.  Dusty and Nicole worked in various areas in the lower levels, too.  The cave is looking good! 


3/24: Dave and Mary Sue Socky accompanied Mike Douma (JMU history professor) into Goodwin Cave, VA.  Michael was looking for historic signatures.  They found several signatures that survived vandalism and cleanups.


3/27-30:  Stephanie Petri and Brian Williams journeyed to the Florida Cave Cavort, and to finish up Steph’s open water dive certification.  All the springs were blown from heavy rains (no visibility).

·         3/29: Stephanie Petri, Brian Williams, Woody & Carol Vinsant visited Ocala Caverns, FL.  This was a former show cave.  Carol got part of her anatomy stuck in the cave gate.  Ocala Caverns was very nice, with deep blue water, swimming, and low spots. Ocala was where the old Tarzan movies were filmed!

·         3/30:  Stephanie Petri, Matt Vinsant, and Brian Williams went to Devils Den FL sinkhole for Steph’s checkout dive.  It was cool, and Brian stopped Stephanie from pushing a too tight lead.

 At 1:00a  with a beer in hand at the Cave Cavort, Stephanie took her test by campfire light, and got her Open Water Certification.  Way to go! 


3/29: Dave Socky, Hope Brooks, Phil Lucas, and Mark Hodge went to Butler Cave, Bath Co. VA to dig out a low belly crawl named “Gold’s Gym” (it’s a work out!).  They removed 12’ of fill from the dig.  This is a known crawl to a little visited section of Butler Cave; a passable passage will make this area accessible to exploration and survey. 


4/6: Dave and Mary Sue Socky, Billy Arrington, Stephanie Petri, Brian Williams surveyed 110’ Reunion Cave, Botetourt Co. VA.  The cave is on Billy’s property.  They also checked out a potential dig at the bottom of a big sink – the water entering the sink emerges at a spring near xxx Creek.


4/6: Dave Socky, Stephanie Petri, Brian Williams and Mary Sue Socky acted on a tip, found that Brugh Cave # 2 had re-opened (the sinkhole had been filled in years earlier) so they began a survey of the cave, down to the subterranean creek roaring through the bottom of the cave.  They surveyed half of the cave, will have to return to finish the survey.  Wow, what a place for a dye trace!  Brian found several orange salamanders.  Upon exiting, they met BRG member Sharon Mohney and Missy White, who live nearby.


4/7-8:  Mary Sue Socky spent two days at Cave Spring High School, Roanoke Co. VA to talk with 9th grade Earth Science students about Caves and Karst. 




4/8: Dave Socky went to Butler Cave, VA  to help work on the “Gold’s Gym Dig”.  They hauled 180 sled loads of fill dirt out of the crawl.  Making  progress!  Only 15’ more to the “low dip in the tight crawl”… 


4/12: Stephanie Petri, Brian Williams, Dave Socky, Greg Springer, Tommy Polson, and Mike nln went to Dry Cave, Greenbrier Cave, WV for more survey work.  It was a 13-hour trip, and Greg Springer’s puns were awful!  (PS Dry Cave is not dry.)


4/12: Spring VAR.  Meredith Weberg accumulated a carload of lady cavers: Cat (nln,)  Sarah Richards, Tory Biggers and Mary Sue Socky.  (Team Estrogen) to take a driving tour of the Virginia Karst Trail.  They checked karst features (springs, sinking creeks, etc.) along the 43-mile loop and visited the sumped resurgence entrance of Aqua Cave, Bath Co. VA. They also admired pretty wildflowers, visited a trout farm, and took photos of wildlife.  


4/12: Susan Burr and Jen Perdue led a pick-up beginner cave trip to Island Ford Cave, VA. David Ratliff, daughter Lindsey Ratliff, Ryan nln, Colin Beck with sons David and Luke Beck had lots of fun exploring the cave!  Kim Beck opted to stay outside and enjoy the nice spring day.  As Susan & Jen’s group were exiting the cave, they met up with the-21 person VAR Kiddie Trip coming in!  (Good timing, Susan!)


4/12: Carl Cornett and Marian McConnell took a group of Boy Scouts through Tawney’s Cave, VA.  The scouts did great! 


4/13: Dave Socky went to Phil Lucas’ land near Burnsville, VA.  They visited Owl Cave and Water Sinks, two caves on Phil’s property. 



Up Coming:

April 19 – BRG trip to James Cave, VA.  Doug Feller is leader.

April 19 – Grand Caverns Easter Conservation Weekend.  Meredith Weberg is coordinating.

May 4 – SRT at River Rock Climbing Wall, Roanoke VA.  Limited to 8 people; BRG members get priority.

April 28 – Dave Socky will give a presentation on  Cave Videos at the PSC meeting in D.C.

May 17 – BRG trip; cave to be determined.

June 21 – Wishing Well Cave, VA Photo trip.  Dave Socky is leader.     

Sept. 13 – New River Cave, VA.  Marian & Carl will be leaders.  The trip is one week early, because…

Sept. 20 – NO BRG trip; this is Marian’s 60th Birthday party!  Catawba Murder Hole will be open!

Oct. 25 – VPI Mock Cave Rescue.  Cave TBD.  Wil Orndorff is coordinating.


Program: Slide Show of recent cave trips by BRG members, including cavern diving in Florida, New Dixie Cave, and caving in Botetourt Co. VA.  Nice slide show! 




TREASURER’S REPORT (submitted by Stephanie Petri):

4/18/2014 Balance Sheet

Petty Cash                             110.00

General Fund                     3,637.86

Conservation                        266.55

Equipment                             235.36

Cave Bucks                            199.30

TOTAL BALANCE:     $4449.07



4/18/2014 BUSINESS MEETING (cont)



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

MEMBERSHIP –We have 52 members and 4 subscribers for 2014.  Please send in member updates.  Bring folks interested in caving to BRG meetings.

ROCKS – Is alive and well in Botetourt Co. VA  BRG survey  folk appreciate the new Disto and other survey gear.  We will be glad to train more people to survey.  and more surveyor trainees. 

SAFETY & TECHNIQUES –Next SRT @ River Rock will be 5/3/2014.  Marian McConnell and Carl Cornett are instructors (Dan will be out of town on business).


MEMBERSHIP PROPOSALS John Fox, NSS # 17432 FE, sponsored by Dave Socky, 2nd by Stephanie Petri. 

Karen Kastning, NSS # 12164 RL , sponsored by Mary Sue Socky, 2nd by Dave Socky.  John and Karen’s proposals are tabled until the next meeting.  No other new membership proposals. 



·         New Grotto Survey Gear (Dave Socky).   Dave reports that the new Disto works well,  Dave, Stephanie Petri, and Brian Williams have used it so far. 

·         No reply from Chris Heptinstall to see if BRG can add Aug. 15 meeting to the calendar. 

·         New River Cave Preserve.  Resurvey trips led by Dave West continue; plans are being made for a new parking area, path to cave, kiosk, etc.  Ownership transfer should happen in May.  Contact Wil Orndorff to help.




·         VA Cave Week April 20-26, 2014.

·         Phil Lucas can open Wishing Well Cave, Owl Cave, Helectite Cave, and Water Sinks for a BRG trip.

·         Mark Hodge can get permission for a BRG trip to Butler Cave, there’s 6 or 7 digs available in Butler, too. 

·         Spring VAR Wrap-Up (see  attached notes).

·         Forest Service wishes to extend “blanket cave closures” on South East USFS Region. (Why?  The area is already WNS +) They are required to request input.  Cavers need to let them know “One size does not fit all”, there are different models of cave management, and we need to send comments to USFS directly. 




·         Trip to Gray Fossil Site has been postponed, will be rescheduled.

·         Karst Field Studies classes at Mammoth Cave, KY – deadline to register is May 9.

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

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

·         Note from Martin DiLeggi, dues for 4 years and he says Thank You for the nice card sent when his mom died, and he hopes BRG can come out & check his ridgewalking finds. 

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

·         S&T – let Dan McConnell know what you would like in vertical training. 

·         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.

o    There will be a “Preppers Meet” in New Castle, VA on 4/19/2014.  Marian will be there with her book. 


Meeting adjourned at 9p. 


Minutes Submitted by

Mary Sue Socky  BRG Secretary





Spring VAR 2014 Notes:


Meeting:  Sunday, April 13, 2014.    App. 253 or 258 people attended. 


John Fox reports that between VPI (fall VAR) and an honarium from 2013 NSS Convention, VAR has received $600. 

JSS will receive $300 from VAR.  We are the only NSS region to donate/support JSS.


Conservation - Grand Restoration Weekend is this weekend.  Gravel haul, cabin renovation, formation restoration in Fountain Cave. 


Outstanding Service Award - all the really old cavers have been recognized.  Let M Weberg know of anyone who deserves this award by OTR.  PS Meredith would love to step down from the office.  (Side note:  Kurt Waldron and Carl XX need an award for their vertical classes offered at VARs.)


Landowner Recognition Award - so many still need to be recognized.  Let Janet Tinkham know of a worthy landowner.


Legal Support - No news is good news.


Region Record - Thanks to Jessica Reep and Kyle Mills for getting the newsletter out. Next deadline is June 15, 2014.


VA Cave Board - has online karst assessment guidelines.  Hope to launch the VA Karst Trail during upcoming VA Cave Week Apr. 20-26, 2014.  There will be walking tours in N. VA, Montgomery Co., VA, etc.   (VCB would appreciate funding for Cave and Karst Trail Signs. Next VA Cave Board meeting will be June 28, at Natural Bridge, VA. 


CCV - has $$ available for conservation grants and scholarships.  Need to send in letter, detailed budget, etc. 


OLD - MAKC will NOT take over Crystal Caverns @ Hupps Hill.  (Owners backed out; they are squirrely).  MAKC is looking to purchase a VA cave .


Fall 2014 - Oct 10-12, hosted by Monongahela Grotto at Rich Mt. Battlefield, near Beverly, WV. 

Spring 2015 -  up for grabs

Fall 2015 -       "  "  "


NEW - Crystal Biggers would like a lower registration fee for kids.  Discussion, motion to include it in bylaws.  (Like we don't' already?)


NEW - New River Cave Preserve.  Tentative transfer date is May 1.  Preserve manager will likely be Wil Orndorff (will be appointed at next BOG meeting.)  Plans are being made for cave cleanup, new parking lot, new trail to cave, etc.  (These improvements will take place over the next 2years).  Please donate directly to the NSS Cave and Karst Acquisition Fund!!!   (Was requested that a donation jar be at VAR registration, but nothing happened.)


NEW - The VAR voted to take Hupps Hill funds, and reallocate it to New River Cave.  (Passed).  If you wish to donate to New River Cave via VAR, make a check to VAR, marked for New River Cave.  John Fox will send donation, and Hupps Hill funds to the New River Cave/NSS by June 1, 2014.


NEW - Grant request from MAR for VAR $250.00 to fence Flower Pot Cave (to keep sheep out).  This was a verbal request, no plans, no budget; want to do it Ap. 19, IF they get landowner permission.  (??!)  VAR would put up money, MAR would provide manpower.  Request was tabled, pending landowner permission, submission of itemized budget, and the project leaders talk with VAR Chair.


NEW - Long repeated discussion of VAR Chair's displeasure with host grotto to exclude additional vendors in preference of one vendor.  Craig said RASS explanation was bullshit, especially the part where RASS said "they could do what they wanted because it was their private event".  (NO - it was a regional event!) No RASS officers present to debate fine points, but Craig talked on and on... Does VAR have the right to protect VAR's interests and insist on fairness? 


NEW - group of young cavers, loosely associated with MET Grotto, posted on internet prior to VAR that they were going to "let loose" in a cave during VAR.  These assholes filmed themselves smoking a bowl, shooting off fireworks in a WVa Cave.  There were witnesses to their activities.  They said they planned to post it on YouTube.  Most of VAR were disgusted.  How should VAR handle this?  Lots of discussion.   This is not a region-specific problem.  Perhaps an article in the NSS News, Region Record would be appropriate.  (And, if laws were broken, and they incriminated themselves, then prosecution to fullest extent of law. )



Sharps Cave, WV - the owner is happy with how things are going under management of the WVCC.

Savannah Cave, WV - the owner loves cavers, we have carte blanche on cave, property and owner intends to "will" the cave to WVCC.

RESURVEY - Carpenter Swago Cave WV is closed.  However, the cave might be open to a resurvey.  If a grotto/survey group is interested, let Carroll Bassett know.     END.