Meeting Minutes

March 20, 2015

Vinton Fire Department; Vinton, VA




Bob Gulden, Vice Chair

Susan Burr

Trish Geiger

Jeff Huffman

Marian McConnell, Secretary

Mary Sue Socky, Treasurer

Doug Feller

Courtney Johnson*

Beth Walker*

Bob Alderson

Stephanie Petri

Dusty Gulden

Nicole Gulden

Odin Gulden*

Al Stewart

Karen Kastening

Bill Walker



1.    Trip Reports:

a.    Lowmoor Cave – February ?  – Bob Alderson with Dave Socky - parking lot was snowed in, so got permission to park at the Animal Shelter. Did a “cook’s tour” of the south end, site of last survey.  Surveyed to the north, series of tunnels.  Found an 1881 date and name carved on the wall.  The quarry was started in 1870.  Nicely chiseled.  Mud banks full of gypsum needles and flowers.  Also found on the wall “[NSS] 1216 Richard Hall.”  Bits of pine tapers from torches.  Phil Lucas surveyed in 1962 so saw some of his survey stations.  Gathered up a lot of trash, including 100’ of fishing line and Old Milwaukee beer cans.

b.   Unnamed Cave – March 11 – Bob Alderson with Mark Minton, Mark Hodges, Zeb Lilly – water was 6’ higher than usual.  Surveyed through breakdown maze.

c.    Warm Noisy Blower Cave – March 14 (?) – Bob Alderson with Zeb and Bob – 400’ survey through breakdown.  Mark and Ralph tried to dig out the bottom and found a 30’ pit.  Dwight & Tim did a mop-up survey.

d.   Maxwellton – February 14 – Stephanie Petri with Ryan Maur for photo trip.

e.    Smoke But No Flame – February 21 – Stephanie Petri with Ed McCarthy; there was 30” of snow on the ground so they had to hire a plow to get up to the cave.

f.     Paradise Springs (FL) – February 27 – Brian Williams, Bill Walker, and Stephanie went to Florida and she did her “first” cave dive – 10’ into the entrance.  Took pictures.  Did have some gear issues.

g.    Warren’s (FL) – February ? – Brian, Bill, Eric, Stephanie and one other person visited this cave which is the longest mapped cave in Florida; 4 miles of crawling.  Very sandy and “165°F”.  In the 1960’s cavers found a little hole blowing lots of air and got through a chert tube “Cashew Squeeze” and found supposedly 70 miles of cave.

h.   Briar’s Cave (FL) – February ? – Brian, Bill, Stephanie – was very decorated and had lots of spiders.  Drops into an aquifer.  Lots of fossils.

i.     ? (TN) – March ? – Stephanie spent 4 days with Ed McCarthy and Bob Biddex doing photo shoots.

j.     Yellow Jacket Pit (TN) – March 13 – Errol, Phil, and Stephanie did the pit which is a 22’ drop.  Big Tennessee rooms.

k.   Secret Squirrel (?) – March ? – Stephanie went with ?. New cave, very active, gorgeous pretty stuff.

l.     Cave of the Virgins (?) – March 14 – Stephanie went with ?.  This cave had a 15’ drop, very small but densely decorated, near Cumberland Caverns, past the historic entrance and Higginbotham’s; unique formation in the back, like the top of a cake with icing around the rim.

m.  Lancaster Cave (?) – March ? – Stephanie went with ?. Lots of graffiti.  Some nice rimstone pools, flowstone, she did lots of modeling for photos; but cool because it enables her to get into great caves.

n.   Tawneys (VA) – Jeff Huffman, Colin, and a friend who states he is a member of a Blacksburg Grotto (VPI?) “Dave” visited Tawneys on ?.  They had trouble with the gate and locks which were rusty and hard to access.  The creek was up and there were icicles near the sink at the back entrance.

o.    Natural Bridge Caverns – March 11 and March 16 – Mary Sue lead 2 clean-ups into this commercial cave which has never been cleaned (for moss/algae) before.  The cave purchased the wrong LED lights which promotes green stuff to grow.  Did find salamanders, isopods, amphipods, etc. 

p.   Lowmoor – Nick Socky was on a survey on March 15.

q.    Boar Hole Cave – Doug Feller will be leading this trip on March 21- meet at HROM at 9:00 am. 

r.    Next BRG Trip will be on April 18th – TBA.


2.   Please vote on Carbide Dump covers (5 votes per member).


3.   No Video Program – No one could find the cord that hooks up the laptop to the projector – Dave is in China!  However, Bill Walker did a great “show and tell about some great new lights he has found for caving.  Such as the Zebra Light for $89 (comes with strap to mount to helmet) which produces 1,000 lumens on its highest (of many) settings, and uses 18650 rechargeable battery.  Compare this to the Apex Duo (275 lumens).  Two other great small lights were the Phoenix PO35 and Claris XT900.


4.   Committees:


a.    Treasurer’s Report (Mary Sue Socky):

Petty Cash            $110

Cave Bucks           $0

Equipment            $235.36

Conservation        $160.64

General Fund       $3,496.98

GRAND TOTAL     $4,002.98


b.   Conservation – Nothing at this time.


c.    Newsletter – no March newsletter; Dave is in China.  Keep sending stuff!


d.   Membership – packets went out – extra membership lists are available.


e.    ROCKS – Working on Lowmoor, and have some other places to check out when the weather is better (e.g. Blue Ridge Vineyards.)


f.     SRT Training at River Rock Climbing Gym – Last class had to be cancelled because Dano had to work out of town.  Will set up a new date – most likely on a Sunday.


5.   Membership Proposals:  Bill Walker.  He wrote on a tiny piece of paper “Let me in.”  He added “P.S. I will be safe and not break the caves.”  Stephanie sponsored him and Susan seconded.  His proposal will be tabled until next month.


6.   Old Business:


a.    Owner of Blue Ridge Vineyards wants us to come check out more caves on his property – Marian will check when weather is better.


b.   Upcoming Vinton Firehouse renovations – in progress.


c.    Blacksburg Cave Rescue Group (BCRG) – Stephanie is involved in this and attending meetings.  This is a good thing as the liability (during cave rescues) will be on the professional organizations, not on individuals.


d.   Proposed gas pipeline route to affect caves, karst, farms, in Catawba and other surrounding areas.  Marian is on the Virginia Cave Board – the last meeting was rescheduled to April 11 at Luray Caverns so she will find out more then.  There is a public portion of that meeting – more details to follow as to time and place.


e.    New River Cave Challenge – Cavers are encouraged to donate money to pay off the loan.  Al Stewart has already paid $300.


f.     Natural Bridge Caverns Conservation Project – Mary Sue is heading this up and is looking for volunteers to help between now and up to and including during VAR.  April 25th will be the big day cleaning the “Golden Cascades” formation.  Please let Mary Sue if you are willing to come help on any of these trips. 


g.    Come to Spring VAR at Natural Bridge!


7.   New Business:


a.    If you want to lead a VAR trip, please contact Meredith – for example to Lowmoor, Island Ford, Cabin Cave, Porters, Paxtons, etc.  Be sure to pre-register before April 10th.


8.   Announcements, Mail Bag, etc.:


a.    March 24 – Conservation work at Natural Bridge Caverns. Contact Mary Sue.

b.   April 11 – Virginia Cave Board meeting at Luray Caverns.

c.    April 24-26 – Spring VAR at the Caverns at Natural Bridge.

d.   May 16 – Possible trip to take relative(s) of Connie into New Dixie.  Must be vertically competent.

e.    October 3 – Possible VAR project at Grand Caverns/Fund Raiser.

f.     Murder Hole books (paperback and hardback) are still available from Marian McConnell and through the NSS bookstore.

g.    SERA – May 7-10 in Tennessee.

h.   Speleofest in Kentucky.

i.     Swine & Dine over Memorial Day weekend at Frairs Hole, W.Va.

j.     Stephens Gap Cave has been purchased and you can help pay off.

k.   Grand Caverns – April 3-5.

l.     Karst Field Studies – June 1-2 WKU classes.

m.  Crack & Crevice Rescue training March 23.

n.   April 30 – May 1 – Conservation and Land Seminar at Natural Bridge.