Blue Ridge Grotto of the NSS


April 15, 2016 – Vinton Firehouse


Meeting began 7:38p

Dave Socky - Chair                           Susan Burr                          Al Stewart                           Jeff Huffman                    

Mary Sue Socky – Treas.                               Pat Sims                               Joseph Caldwell                                *Katie Charles

Bob Gulden – Vice Chair                               Dusty Gulden                    Nicole Gulden                   *Odin Gulden                                                                                                                                                    * denotes guest

Trip Reports:

3/19/2016:  Lowmoor Cave, VA:  Susan Burr, Doug Feller, Jeff Huffman parked IN Lowmoor Quarry, visited the mine, picked up bags of trash, and photographed historic signatures  and dates  the big room in the cave.


3/19: Lowmoor Cave, VA.  This was a survey, photo, and sport trip. The crew included David Socky, David Collings, Joseph Caldwell, Joe and Carol Zokaites, and Bill Koerschner.  The photo team was Susan Burr, Doug Feller, and Jeff Huffman.  The sport trip was the Greenbrier Grotto with Bill Balfour, Cliff Lindsay, Ed Swepston, and Kaye Hunter. Since it was raining outside, we actually drove into the mine, where we were able to gear up.  Lots of photos were taken, and a moderate amount of survey was done.


3/20: Moravian Cave, VA. The team included David Socky, Mark Minton, Yvonne Droms, and Bob Alderson. We looked for Moravian Cave, which we just south of the road to the Butler Homestead.  Even though we had the location marked on a topo, we couldn't find the cave. Bob found a small cave on the edge of the sink, just on the other side of the sink from Boundless Cave.  It was a vertical entrance going down about 10 feet and then a steep slope into about 80 or 90 feet of cave, which all ended.


3/26: Powell Mountain Cave, TN. This was a Gap Cave weekend, but because of the winter bat closure for Gap, we continued the survey in Powell Mountain Cave.  We had 2 teams, including David Socky, Bob Alderson, Bill Wilder, Joe Settles, Sarah Drummond, Stuart Daw, and Terri Brown. We surveyed a total of 834 feet of nicely decorated cave; unfortunately it is heavily vandalized with spray paint.  There is still plenty more cave to be surveyed.


3/26: Grand Caverns, VA: Mary Sue Socky, Meredith Weberg, Karen Kastning, Bob Thren and about 30 other VAR cavers attended the Grand Caverns ConSerVaCation.  Gravel trails were modified, speleothems were cleaned, and an amazing amount of outdoor work on the Grand Caverns property between the river and Dogwood Ave. was done - bushogging and chipping brush, clearing the way for a nicer greenway with benches and tables.  Dinner was catered by Cosmic BBQ (Jeff Good).  Plans were made with the Caverns Manager about the May 7 re-opening of Fountain Cave.  Manager Nathan wants to accompany the surveyors into Fountain, and tour the Maze Section. 


4/2: Maxwelton Cave, WV. We surveyed large virgin cave at the top of Thunder Dome!  The team of five included David Socky, Nick Socky, Tony Canike, Hope Brooks, and Eric Pelkey.  It was a hard 16.5 hour trip carrying heavy packs, but we got 371 feet surveyed and have two very good leads to come back to.  Both are vertical and require more rope.  We plan on returning in June!


4/2/2016: New River Cave Preserve, VA:  Mary Sue Socky joined VPI Cave Club and NRVG (all 3 of them: Karen Kastning, John Fox & Don Anderson), plus Ray Sira, Joe & Carol Zo, to work on the New River Cave preserve trail and kiosk. The VPI students did an AMAZING amount of work in one cool, breezy afternoon!  MSS collected a bag of garbage at the new "parking lot".  The new trail is less steep, so with some encouragement from Carol Zo, MSS hiked to the entrance of New River Cave and did a short spelunking trip into the Entrance room (before the bat signs).


4/9: Windy Mouth, WV. For this WVACS Project weekend, Nick Socky and Tommy Polson had enough cavers for 5 teams.  My team included myself (David Socky), Mitch Berger, and Kristy McCord.  We surveyed in Second Canyon netting almost a thousand feet (964) of mostly large trunk passage! It would have been a joy to sketch, except the large passage made things pretty complicated. It was a good trip, and between all the teams, the total survey turned out to be around 2800 feet.  The survey is now a little over 3 miles.


4/12: Lowmoor Cave, VA. This was a small group for Lowmoor with four cavers making up two teams.  David Socky and Bill Koerschner were one team, while Dave West and Karen Willmes were the other.  However, since we were surveying in the mine, we netted 2357 feet in about 8 hours. 



April 30 – Blue Ridge Vineyards Ridgewalk – Marian McConnell is leader.  Meet 10a Daleville Park & Ride

May 21 – BRG trip TBA

May 28 – Baltimore Grotto Swine & Dine, Friars Hole Cave Preserve, WV.  Bob & Dusty Gulden have info.  This will be Odin Gulden’s first cave trip to Snedegar’s Saltpeter Cave!!


Program: Slide Show of caving trips from the 1970’s with Bob Gulden, including “The Pink Panther Visits the NSS Office & Shelta Cave, AL.”  Dave Socky also included pictures from his recent trips in Windy Mouth Cave & Maxwelton Cave/Thunder Dome section.  Nice slide shows!




TREASURER’S REPORT (submitted by Mary Sue Socky):

4/15/2016 Balance Sheet

Petty Cash                             120.00

General Fund                     3,357.96

Conservation                        160.64

Equipment                             235.36

Cave Bucks                                5.00

TOTAL BALANCE:     $3878.96


NEWSLETTER –Thanks for the articles! Editors have sent in “Favorite 5” for the NSS Cover Art Salon.   Extra DUMP hardcopies are available at meetings.

MEMBERSHIP – Extra Membership lists are at the front desk.

ROCKS – Upcoming ridgewalk to Blue Ridge Vineyards in 2 weeks.  The Lowmoor Cave survey is going well; cavers have found virgin passage in high leads.  Survey should be finished sometime in 2016.

SAFETY & TECHNIQUES –no report (Dan & Marian are at a wedding in MD).




Old Business

·         Katie Charles reports that Sterling (NB Maintenance) is healed from his broken leg, will be back soon to work with Dave Socky on locating cave entrances, etc. on Natural Bridge property.

·          Roanoke Outside – Will have something next month (May).  (MSS)

·         Easter ConserVaCation was a success.  40 people from several state attended. 

·         Work on New River Cave trail & kiosk continues.

·         NSS Finances – no real report from BOG.  Scuttlebutt is some NSS Officers want to raid the NSS Life Member fund instead of straightening out the finances and refinancing the NSS property. 

·         *BRG donations.   Dave Socky projected list of cave organizations on board, and grotto members discussed who should get funds.  In addition, the Cave Bucks program has been re-instituted.  By the end of the meeting, folks had donated $16.00 to Cave Bucks.    


April BRG Donation Decisions*

WV Cave Conservancy   – $ 50.00  - rejoin as Institutional members

                Vinton Fire Dept.             -  $100.00 – already sent in.

NSS- Save The Caves      -   $  25.00

                NSS Cave Vandalism

Deterrence Fund             -  $  25.00

MAKC                                   -  $  25.00

                ACCA                                     -    $25.00


Total:                    $ 250.00


This does not mean the donations have finished.  We will be donating Cave Buck funds as we accumulate them to various cave conservation organizations throughout the year. 

(* See full list at end of report.)    


New Business

·         Troutville Trail Days Jun. 3 & 4, would really like us to attend.  They will waive $25 fee.  Any interest in helping?   NO.  MSS will email, tell them “maybe next year”.

·         New WNS Advisory – see p. 31 in April DUMP.   Essentially, CAVE CLEAN.  Knock dirt off stuff immediately after cave trips, bag dirty stuff in plastic bags (keep separate from clean stuff), wash it before caving again.  Disinfect if you are going into another WNS region.  DO NOT TAKE ANYTHING (gloves, helmets, boots, packs, etc.) from a WNS+ zone into a “WNS free zone”. 

·          WNS has been found on the West Coast, on a forest bat near Seattle, WA. 

·         The Caverns at Natural Bridge is doing “Sinkhole Awareness” for Cave Week.  They are also working with the Rockbridge Area Conservation Council for sinkhole awareness, future sinkhole cleanup. 



·         Please submit written cave trip reports to the secretary.  Thanks!

·         Winter closures on most VA caves have ended.  (Some are still closed until May 2016.  WV caves open May 2016.)

·         April 22-24: Spring 2016 VAR, Endless Caverns, VA. Price is $40.00 at door.

·         NSS Members, remember to vote for NSS BOG election.  Print-up on candidates at front table.

·         VA Cave Week – Apr. 17-23, 2016. “The Hole Truth about Sinkholes" with activities

·         Karst Field Studies flyer.

·         Baltimore Swine & Dine at Friar’s Hole, WV, May 27-30, 2016. 

·         WVACS Classic is returning!  June 10-12, 2016.  Contact Nick Socky for more info. 

·         MURDER HOLE book by Marian McConnell is available.

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


Meeting adjourned at 8:48p. 


Minutes Submitted by

Mary Sue Socky  

substitute Secretary for Marian McConnell. 



Table - BRG Donations for 2016 as of 4/15/2016.




2010 Amount

Suggestions, Notes  2016




VA Cave Board          









(West Virginia Cave Conservancy)


 Dues are $50 for institutional members

Vinton Fire Department


$100 –sent



NSS - Save the Caves



NSS -  Cave Vandalism Deterrence



NSS  - WNS Fund



NSS - General Fund



MAKC (Mid –Atlantic Karst Conservancy)




(West Virginia Association for Cave Studies)




(Natl Cave Rescue Comm)




(Butler Cave Cons Society)