Meeting Minutes

Jersey Lily’s Roadhouse Meeting Room


April 20, 2018


Susan Burr – Vice Chair                      Dave Socky – Treasurer                      Mary Sue Socky - Secretary

Doug Feller                                           Marian McConnell                               Lynn Ott

John Fox                                                                Karen Kastning                                     Trish Geiger                                         

*Rolland Moore                                   * Nick Schmalenberger      (* guest)               


Vice Chair Susan Burr was in charge of meeting.  Chair Bob Gulden was ill and stayed home.

Meeting began at 6:39p.



January 2018:  Rolland Moore lives in Mexico most of the year, and goes caving with the Proyecto Sierra Mazateca (a Mexican Cave Project).  This year, they found and surveyed El Mero Hoyo, a 520 ft. pit.  They also found and surveyed a 240 ft. pit, that they named Sotano de Palo Tirado.  They mapped 5 other small pits.  Nice discoveries – but lots of hard work and jungle chopping with machetes to make any progress. 


3/17/2018:  Maxwelton Cave, WV. Participants included David Socky, Nikki Fox, Chris Coates, and Keely Owens. This was a three day camp trip to survey upstream in Sweetwater. Went in at 1:30pm on Friday and got out at 5pm on Sunday. There was only 4 to 5 inches of airspace in the Foxhole, which was pretty scary. The Ghost Camp had flooded to the ceiling in February, soaking all sleeping bags except Chris's. We surveyed 1894 feet of large beautiful virgin passage upstream in Sweetwater. Exiting through the Foxhole on Sunday was easier than I had feared. We weren't trapped – yeah! We exited Sunday evening at 5pm.  (Update – Another trip on April 1 extended the upstream passage for another 1400 feet. It still goes big. Maxwelton is now over 18 miles long).


3/23: Butler Cave, VA. Participants included David Socky and Mark Hodge. Mark and Dave went into Butler to the stream passage and did more scenes for the Dream Lake Story. Dave got most of what he wanted to get taped done. We had to walk in from the road because there was too much snow on the Homestead driveway. Dave had to backtrack to find his car keys at the cave entrance.  They then went to the Roost and visited with Keith Wheeland for a little. Carl Amundson, Paul Winter, and Aaron Claire also showed up to visit. They were doing a SPAR class at the Philly Grotto field station on Saturday (Small Party Assisted Rescue).


3/24: Big Bone Cave (Natural Chimneys), VA.  The survey team included David Socky, Mark Hodge, and Jeff Jahn. Also at Natural Chimney's were Rick Lambert, Mary Sue Socky, Janet Tinkham, Rick Wagner, and Sarah Wagner (Rick's daughter). This was the first 'Natural Chimneys' survey led by Rick Lambert that Mary Sue and I had attended. We started out by surveying Big Bone Cave, just newly dug into the day before. It was named Big Bone cave because of the animal bones found just inside the pit entrance. It was not a long cave - only 37 feet.  After surveying, we brought over an 8 foot long plastic culvert which will eventually be put in the entrance. Then we went to the far side of the park and dug at the base of a rock pinnacle. But the dig didn't seem all that good. And what little air movement there was detectable was probably due to air circulation along the large piles of breakdown and rock along the base of the cliffs. We finally called it a day at around 2pm, got home before the predicted snow.


3/24: Mary Sue Socky and Janet Tinkham explored the Natural Chimneys, VA, looking for sinkholes along the nature trail that might connect with Browns Cave.  According to an old report, an upper sinkhole used to be connected to Brown’s, but the passage can no longer be found.  They visited Browns Cave, looking for slumps and potential dig sites.    


3/31:  BRG trip to Scott Hollow Cave, WV.  Participants were Susan Burr, Doug Feller, Jeff Huffman, Lauren Appel, and Mystik Miller (of Greenbrier Grotto).   This trip was to the Christmas Tree Room to photograph the ‘Christmas Tree’ spar formation.  That done, they returned to the Junction Room and headed to Mystic River, which was really flowing!  The water was higher than normal.  They saw a beautiful waterfall, beautiful flowstone with rimstone pools.  Next, they went to the Sump and saw the ladder that leads to an upper passage (they did not climb up).  Then they headed back out. 


4/1: Helectite Cave, VA.  Participants included David Socky, Mark Hodge, Amos Mincin, Tony Canike, Molly Lucier, and Brian Mayfield. We went to SuperSweet dig where we brought the survey up to the dig face. Total survey for the day was 120 feet. In the dig, we made about 8 feet of progress, but more digging is required. It was a good 6 hour trip.


4/2-6: Karen Kastning attended the week-long Sinkhole Conference & Appalachian Karst Symposium, Shepherdstown, WV.  Karen went on two field trips, but due to her knee problems, she was not able to hike and see much of the karst areas.  (Additional Notes:

 (BRG meeting 4/20/2018)                                                                                                                                                                 p2


4/2-6 Karst Symposium:  Meredith Weberg  and Janet Tinkham also attended the Symposium and were volunteers with a table display for the Virginia Cave Board; Janet also had a display for CCV, too.) 


4/2: Lowmoor Cave, VA.  Participants included David Socky, Mark Hodge, Ed Saugstad, and Jennifer Springfield. Jennifer is a novelist who is writing a book with the main character being a caver. She is doing research on cavers and caving. We toured the main highlights of Lowmoor for about 3.5 hours. We took Jennifer all the way to the back end of the cave (but didn’t go through Charlies Dig). She enjoyed the trip so much she may be 'hooked' on caving!


4/3: Butler Cave, VA. Participants included David Socky, Rocky Ward, and Amos Mincin. This was the last filming session in Butler for the Dream Lake Story. Dave reported “I needed just two scenes and I now have Rock doing a cameo in the program”.


4/7: Helectite Cave, VA. Participants included Mark Hodge, Dave Socky, Steven Biggers, Colin Biggers, Matthew Barnes, Taylor Barnes, Alex Macaraeg, Nina Shields, Ritchie Ellison, Vanessa Ellison, Teresa Lea, Douglass Lea, Julia McMinn, and Bill Phillips. (The age range of underground participants was 6 to 66 yrs.) Phil Lucas helped considerably on the surface. We transported 30 tracks for the rail car from the entrance to the start of Supersweet dig. It took 4.5 hours. We used a 'bucket brigade' technique to move the pieces through the cave. There were 12 brigade sections, plus a couple places where everyone carried from 1 to 4 tracks through nice walking passage.


4/7: Island Ford Cave, VA.  Participants included Susan Burr, Jeff Huffman, Hillary Huffman.  This was a practice trip for Hillary and a chance for Jeff to play around in Island Ford Cave, in preparation for Hillary going on the upcoming Lost World Caverns ‘wild’ trip. 


4/7: Dan and Marian McConnell took Dan’s visiting family members to visit Dixie Caverns, VA.  Great time, they told the tour of past exploration efforts at Dixie Caverns and showed tourists the dig under the Wedding Bell formation.  Afterwards, Dan & Marian got to talk with caverns owner Connie Browning.  Connie says “Hi” to BRG. 


4/8:  John Powers of SLIGO, Gene Harrison, Lynn Ott, took a group of 18 people, ages 7 - 70, for a hike on the C&O canal to Dam # 4 Cave (Hagerstown, WV) as part of a Frederick MD Parks & Rec. trip.  The cave stream was active; they saw a bat and a salamander.



·         April 2018 cave trip – SUNDAY April 22 to the wild section of Lost World Caverns, WV.  Meet 8:30a, or 10:30 at the cave.  Contact Susan Burr for more info. 

·         Spring VAR, in Marion, VA.  Apr. 27-29, 2018.  Lots of caves and cave trips for participants!

·         May 19, 2018 Over the Edge, the Last Rappel of Patrick Henry Hotel, downtown Roanoke, VA.  This is a fundraiser for Big Brothers, Big Sisters.  Volunteers are needed to help with the rappel. 


Next Month’s BRG trip – undecided, to be announced.   



April 20, 2018 BRG Treasury Report
Fund Amounts

$   100.64              Cave Bucks

$   160.64              Conservation Fund

$   235.36              Equipment Fund

$ 3025.85              General Fund

     $ 3522.49     Total Funds       David Socky, Treasurer



Newsletter – April 2018 DUMP published.   BRG newsletter covers have been selected to send in to the NSS Cover Art Salon. The newsletter editors will not publish in August 2018.

Membership – BRG has 56 members and 4 subscribers for 2018.   

ROCKS  The Lowmoor Cave and Quarry resurvey is beginning to wrap up. 

Safety & Techniques --- no report


Membership Proposals:  No proposals at this time. 



(BRG meeting 4/20/2018)                                                                                                                                                                  p3


Old Business

·         Mary Sue Socky encourages cavers to volunteer for Over the Edge for the rappel at the Patrick Henry Hotel.

·         Jersey Lily meeting room has been reserved for BRG through Nov.16,  2018. 

·         BRG “Summer Break” – it was decided to have BRG meetings for June, July, and August (No break).

·         Natural Bridge SP update (from newspaper) the Rt. 11 highway over the Natural Bridge will eventually be removed, relocated.  Traffic does not hurt the bridge, but vibrations and gravity continue to make the tourist area under the Bridge a rockfall zone.

·         Troutville Trail Days request that BRG man a booth –Sorry,  NO.  Not enough interest to run a booth.  Maybe next year.

·         NSS BOG meeting in Blacksburg, VA,  March 17-18, 2018 (recap).    Lynn Ott, Gene Harrison, others attended.  NSS is no longer offering ISP for grottos; current contracts with grottos will be honored, but will not renewed.   The NSS Webpage is being rebuilt by Wil Urbanski and others; currently the “Searching for a Grotto near you” is broken.  The IT are fixing it, and are streamlining the server.  It SHOULD work in 2019.  Much discussion, little action, BUT the NSS did give area grottos a gift – see New Business.       


New Business

·         Virginia Cave Week is Ap. 22-28, 2018.  Theme is “Virginia Cave and Karst Trail”.  Several local hikes are offered during the week.   Please participate or volunteer if you can.

·         The letter from the NSS to the Federal Government, requesting changes to the WNS policy in closing federal caves, was passed around.  Please contact your government representatives about this letter, and encourage them to change the current policy.

·         Susan Burr and Dave Socky will not be present for the May 18 BRG meeting.  Everyone else try to attend! 

·         BRG exchange, return address has been changed from Al Stewart’s address to the Socky address.  Al was good with this.  Hardcopy exchanges will be notified. 

·         Mary Socky requested the grotto consider replacing the final four 4AA light systems with (Walmart) Energizer 3 AAA light systems.  The 4AA old systems are still good, can be used as backups, but all lights using the same size batteries would streamline the loaner systems.  Motion was made to replace the old lights - Mary Socky 1st, Trish Geiger 2nd,  vote was unanimous.  Doug Feller will purchase the new lights and submit receipt to the Treasurer.

·         Lynn Ott brought a big box of caving books, donated by the NSS, to the BRG meeting.  The NSS BOG has donated these books to grottos in the hope they can be used as door prizes, fund raisers in grottos and spark interest in new cavers.   Thanks!

·         Jonathan Roberts, manager, NSS New River Cave Preserve, requests help Saturdays May 5 and May 12 (rain date?) to do trail maintenance. Go caving afterwards.   



·         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!

·         Grand Caverns Spring Cleanup weekend, April 21-22, 2018.  Free Camping.  Contact Meredith Weberg.

·         Apr 22-28, 2018 -- Virginia Cave Week; theme is “Virginia Cave and Karst Trail”.

·         April 27, 2018 at 6pm   FREE Murder Hole Cave movie showing and book talk at Natural Bridge State Park, VA. 

·         Spring VAR April 27-29, 2018 Registration on site only! 

·         May 3-6 – SERA Cave Carnival.  Scottsboro, AL. 

·         May 18-19 – Over the Edge “The Last Rappel” off Patrick Henry Hotel, Roanoke, VA.

·         May 24-28: Friar’s Hole Swine and Dine, hosted by Baltimore Grotto.

·         June 30, 11a  - VA Cave Board meeting at the Natural Bridge State Park Visitor Center.  (NEW)

·         July 28-Aug 4, 2018: NSS Convention in Helena, MT

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


Meeting ended 7:40p, followed by


Program:  Slide show of recent cave trips.  (Thank you Dave Socky)



Minutes by BRG Secretary,

Mary Sue Socky