Meeting Minutes

Jersey Lily’s Roadhouse Meeting Room


January 19, 2018


Bob Gulden – Chair                             Mary Sue Socky – Secretary                              Susan Burr – Vice Chair     

Carl Cornett                                          David Socky – Treasurer                                     Doug Feller

Trish Geiger                                          Karen Kastning                                                     Lynn Ott

Jeff Huffman                                         Dusty Gulden                                                        Nicole Gulden                      

*Odin Gulden                                       *Jerry Fuller                                                         *Stephanie Breen

*Dawn Weideman                                               (* guest)                   

Marian McConnell popped in for a minute to say ‘Hi’ – she wasn’t feeling well, went home.


Meeting began 6:40p



11/25/2017: Culverson Creek Cave, WV (Echo Tubes):  Participants included David Socky, Nick Socky, and Eric Pelkey. We had very good 12 hour trip past the Echo Tubes in Culverson Creek Cave. We set a total of 15 bolts for 2 down climb drops and two up climb drops. We made it to within 600 feet of the lead we are trying to get to, but ran out of rope and hardware. Now most of the route is rigged & good steps have been cut into the steep mud slopes in the Culverson main passage. It was a particularly exciting trip because we were the first people to be back in that section of the cave for at least 30 or 40 years. The other good thing we discovered was that you don’t need a wetsuit. We were overheated most of the time and I didn’t have to use my polypro. We only got wet up to our thighs. What really helped was being able to by-pass Hurricane Lake.


11/28/2017: Redington Cave, VA: Participants included David Socky, Mark Hodge, Phil Lucas, and Jim Redington. This is the cave that Phil Lucas and Amos Mincin broke into virgin cave the week before. Dave got on this trip to help dig and survey the known cave. The idea was to dig on the lower entrance tunnel so it would connect into the upper cave that was going. The survey was to find out how close we were. As it turned out, we made a voice and light connection. Dave Socky will draw the map. We surveyed 143 feet for a 5 hour trip.


12/2/2017: Cave Hollow Arbogast, WV: Participants included David Socky, Jay Balakirsky, and Joanne Smith (Miles Drake’s wife) - team one. Dave West, Karen Willmes, and Rick Royer - team two. Aaron Bird, Hope Brooks, and Eric Pelkey - team three. My team did the H survey down the stream passage toward the Cave Hollow Entrance. The cave down this way was a lot different then what we had done last month. This was stream canyon passage and involved a lot of narrow stuff, plus lots of crawling. We got into an upper level which was a lot dryer, but most of it was pretty low. There was one huge wide room, but it was only two to three feet high! Above this level was a set of canyons, one end of which was too tight but maybe a real small person could push. The other way was tight, but passable, but not by our crew. We surveyed in the mid-level until we reached a real crawly section. Since it was getting late in the day, I figured we would better spend what time we had left by going back to the stream and continuing there until it was time to turn around. As it turned out, we did a crawly side lead off the stream and ended up in walking canyon passage, with air! We got a couple of shots in, but then had to quit because it was time to get back to the entrance where we were to meet the other two teams. It was a good seven-hour trip with 426 feet surveyed.

12/2/2017- Paxton Cave, VA:   Doug Feller & Susan Burr took 8 Greenbrier Grotto members, including Bill Balfour, Ed Swepston, & Ed Saugstad into Paxton Cave.  We did the normal tourist trip route to the Christmas Room loop & Western Maze, then back out. Had fun.

12/2/2017: Mary Sue Socky and Cyndi Hutchison ventured up to Grand Caverns VA to help the "Grand Cavers" with "Caroling in the Caverns", a Grottoes/Ruritans event to raise scholarship funds.  This year, over 900 people showed up to hear singing, bagpipes, and brass groups play Christmas carols in the cave.  Caver volunteers light and position hundreds of tea lights throughout the cave rooms.  It was magical.  It left you with a good feeling! J


                (BRG meeting 1/19/2018)



12/15/2017: Butler Cave, VA: Participants included David Socky, Nick Socky, Tony Canike, and Reilly Blackwell. We went back to the Candle Room via Crisco Way. Nick and Tony worked on a bolt climb while Reilly and I surveyed some of the finger passages off of the Candle Room. We also surveyed up to the webbing climb on the way to the 4-Way Stop, but we didn't climb up because it was the end of the day and we didn't feel like doing the tricky climb, even with the webbing. We went out via Goodway Climb (30 foot vertical climb up), then the Frothing Slosh and the Pancake Crawl, both of which were dry - which was really nice. It was a long and tiring 14 hour trip, with travel time taking up a good 7 hours (both ways).


12/23/2017:  Bonfire in Catawba, VA.  It was cold, wet, and sleeting but hardcore cavers Keith and Lisa Goggin, their neighbor, Bob Alderson, David Rose, David and Mary Sue Socky (and assorted dogs) attended, burned lots of brush, and decorated a wild Christmas tree.  Next year Keith promises there will be shelter from the rain.   

2018    1/1/2018 - Porter Cave, VA:  Jeff Huffman, Bill Walker & Susan Burr took Glen Hugus, his daughter, Tony Smith & several others into Porter's for their traditional New Year's Day cave trip. Susan reports: It happened to be freezing outside that day. We practically froze getting ready & to the cave.  I was trip leader & it was the first time that I lead a group through the Keyhole, into the Attic & down to the Natural Bridge without Doug Feller. We did the loop out & back through the Keyhole, & then went to the other Natural Bridge room & let them explore some, then to the formation room,  next to see the Slit & then out the other direction. This was Glen's daughter' first cave trip since her brain injury. Other than a little panic attack 3/4 the way through the Keyhole, she did GREAT! 

1/9/2018: Lowmoor Cave, VA. Participants included David Socky, Mary Sue Socky, Karen Powers, and Makayla Beckner  

 (Karen’s student assistant). Also doing bat counts was Wil Orndorff and Chris Hobbs in Lowmoor Mine, and Tom Malabad and Rick Reynolds in Wares Cave. We saw a good portion of Lowmoor Cave. We counted 2 Big Browns plus about 35 Tri-colored bats. Most of the Tri-Colored bats where in the long finger passage that contain the mine overlook at the extreme north of the mine.


1/9/2018:  Mary Sue and Dave Socky, bat biologist Karen Powers, and Makayla Beckner (Karen’s student assistant) toured Lowmoor Cave, VA to do a bat count.  (This was the morning after the regional ice/sleet storm, BTW.)  3 Big Brown Bats and 46 hibernating Eastern Pipistrelle/Tricolor Bats were counted.  Karen also found one dead bat, and a dead mouse.   Karen and Makela were expecting a 2-hour visit to count bats in a few rooms.  But this IS Dave's survey project!  He took us to numerous areas, with differing temperatures and air flow.  We crossed the metal ladder!  We crawled!  He kept mentioning "Charlie's Dig", too.  After 5 hours underground, Mary Sue and Karen convinced Dave that, while he usually spends 13 hours in this cave on a survey trip, they were tired, out of food, water, and were low on batteries - It is time to leave!  So Dave took everyone out.  Then he charged back up to the mine entrance to touch base with Wil Orndorff, Tom Malabad, and Chris to let them know the counters were leaving.  Short trip for Dave, LONG trip for Karen and Makela, and a great trip for MSS.


1/13/2018: Maxwelton Cave, WV. Participants included David Socky, Keely Owens, Errol Glidden, and David Smallwood. This was a day trip to check and push leads in the Pie Survey to Ghost Camp and then to the Sweetwater river. The best lead was a few hundred feet beyond the Ghost Camp and involved an upstream and downstream lead for a secondary stream off of the Confluence Room. But it had rained close to 2 inches just before the weekend so the water levels where up, making both leads very wet. Wet suits would have been needed. So instead we dug at a lead that was above the stream. The dig was opened up just enough for Keely and Dave Smallwood to get in, so they surveyed the passage beyond for about 10 stations, getting 170 feet. The only lead left in this section was a real wet one. We then surveyed another 130 feet in a room off on the left on the way back to Ghost Camp. All the other leads turned out to be little loops, or small, tight leads that ended. We didn't survey any of these because of time constraints. The Pie Passage and cave between Ghost Camp and Sweetwater is really crawly with some walking but a lot of little obstacles and lots of mud. It's not hard, but it does give one a pretty good work out. It took us 3 hours and 20 minutes to get from the entrance to Ghost Camp, but we did stop for lunch and a couple of rest breaks. It was pretty obvious that this part of the cave reacts fairly quickly to rainy weather outside. Just the weekend before, water levels were pretty dry. Then it rained on Thursday and Friday, and on Saturday (1/13) water levels were noticeably higher. Our trip was a total of 15.5 hours for 303 feet of survey.  



January 2018 cave trip – Starnes Cave, VA.  Doug Feller is leader. 

February 2018 cave trip –Rapps Cave, WV.  Dave Socky is leader.   

(BRG meeting 1/19/2018)



January 19, 2018  BRG Treasury Report
$    85.64               Cave Bucks

$  160.64               Conservation Fund

$  235.36               Equipment Fund

$2930.47              General Fund               

                $3412.11  total funds         David Socky, Treasurer




Newsletter – Got out Dec 2017, Jan. 2018 DUMP.  Also, vote for your favorite 5! 

Membership - Dues are due!  As of end of meeting, BRG has 43 members and 4 subscribers for 2018.

ROCKS – Lowmoor survey is active.  Locomotive Breath survey will continue in Feb. 2018. We are still waiting to hear back from the Eagle Rock landowner. 

Safety & Techniques --- no report


Membership Proposals:   Welcomed, explained BRG membership process to new folks.  No proposals at this time. 


Old Business

·         BRG Christmas Party wrap-up. 12 people attended.  Thank you, Lynn Ott, for hosting and offering an awesome spread!

·         BRG Christmas Cards - Mailed 72 Christmas cards to cave owners.  None have been returned.

·         BRG donations were sent out after the Nov. 2017 meeting.  We have received Thank You cards from CaveSim/Dave Jackson, NCRC Eastern Region/Tony Smith, NSS/Geary M. Schindel, MAKC/Kim Metzgar, and WVACS/Chuck Frostick.

·         Going Batty – Karst Awareness Day in Lynchburg, VA. POSTPHONED until Marian McConnell feels up to it.  Gretchen said she has the grant funds, and BRG can delay until later this spring, in the fall, or even 2019.     


New Business

·         Vote for your Favorite Five CARBIDE DUMP covers of 2017.  Winners will be sent to the NSS Cover Art Salon in Helena Montana.  Vote Well, and Vote Often! 



·         Please limit your trip reports to 3-5 minutes per trip, with a 15 minute maximum of reports per person.

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

·         (10/17) New River Cave Preserve has a new manager:  Jonathan Roberts   He is replacing old cave registers, documenting vandalism.  Upcoming projects – trail maintenance in Spring 2018. 

·         Spring VAR April 27-29, 2018

·         FALL 2018:  Fall VAR, hosted by VPI Cave Club.  No Other Info. 


Meeting ended 7:20p, followed by


Program: Slide Show of the BRG Christmas Party and Recent Cave Trips.  Photos by Carl Cornett, Susan Burr and Dave Socky.    


Minutes by BRG Secretary


Mary Sue Socky