BLUE RIDGE GROTTO of the NSS
Jersey Lily’s Roadhouse Meeting Room
June 15, 2018
Lynn Ott Dave Socky – Treasurer Mary Sue Socky - Secretary
Susan Burr – Vice Chair Doug Feller Trish Geiger
Marian McConnell Carl Cornett Karen Kastning
Dusty Gulden Nicole Gulden *Odin Gulden
Lauren Appel Jeff Huffman *Matthew Joyce
*Sonja Joyce (* guest)
Meeting began at 6:36p. Vice Chair Susan Burr was in charge of meeting. Chair Bob Gulden was ill.
Dusty Gulden reported that Bob Gulden gets to go home next week from hospital/rehab.
5/12/2018: Doug Feller and Bill Walker took a group of over 20 BSA and their adult leaders into Crossroads Cave, VA. They broke the troop into two groups, and only took them in a short way (to the pit). They did get turned around a bit in the Maze area. Doug said the new AAA headlights did well.
5/19: Trish Geiger, Mary Sue Socky, Gene Harrison, old BRG folk Pat and Jeramy Sims, and a contingent of US Army soldiers volunteered with Over The Edge to send 48 people over the top of the Patrick Henry Building in downtown Roanoke VA for the Big Brothers/Big Sisters fundraiser. It stopped raining for the event, so the rappellers had a nice cool day to do the 132-foot drop.
6/2: Mary Sue Socky filled in as a volunteer ‘second leader’ on a wild caving trip into Fountain Cave, VA. Leader Karen from Grand Caverns did a fine job, and the school group/science classes from a PA public school were outstanding! We took them to the fountains/pools, and out via the old trail. It was still raining when we exited; very slippery path down the hill. 2 hours.
6/3: Locomotive Breath, VA. Participants included David Socky, Dave Collings, Bill Murray, and Ed Saugstad. We used 4 sets of straws to break open the canyon lead which will now allow us to survey the section of cave that was on the old map, probably accessed through chimneying high up. We didn't survey it, though, because Dave wanted to dig into the G Spot section and then work on the lead in there. He went ahead while me, Ed, and Bill surveyed. The short cut into the G Spot passage was dug out with just one set of two straws. Ed and Bill dug out the smaller spots while Dave and I worked on the canyon lead. We eventually got the survey going while Dave worked on the lead in the G Spot passage. The upshot is that the lead didn't go - too much work and not looking good. We did finish the survey and got a look at the end of the G Spot passage, which didn't really look good for digging. Sandstone breakdown and dirt falling down into the passage from high above, but that 'high above' is filled with dirt and sandstone cobbles and big breakdown. It was dangerous to dig in and not looking promising at all. There was air, but we think it was just recirculation between the two ways into that section of the cave. We did get 243 feet of survey done, plus a bunch of digging for a good 8 hour trip.
6/8: Maxwelton Cave, WV. Participants included David Socky, Keely Owens, and David Smallwood. We got into the cave around 11:30am to a nice warm sunny day. We went in via the vertical 'short cut' route and made it to the Foxhole at the end of the GOD passage in about 2.5 hours. The Foxhole was wet, but had plenty of airspace. I took some photos and even some video, which turned out poorly. It seemed to take forever to get to Ghost Camp. The camp had been cleaned up fairly well because of the gear recovery trip the weekend before. However we did find a bunch of stuff, including Carl’s three legged chair halfway between the camp and the Confluence Room. The water levels in the Confluence Room were low and the water in our lead was especially low - lower than when we had looked into it in March. We had a snack, I put my wetsuit on (a chore all on its own), and then we started surveying. It was easy sketching, since the passage was pretty simple. We had 40 to 50 foot long shots. The hardest thing about the survey was FOG - it kept us from getting longer shots.
There were two side leads. One was good sized, but soon pinched out with a little stream of water flowing out of it. It was in solid rock, so no digging there. The other lead was a low wide crawl over mud. Keely and David dug at this with a pocket knife. It was slow going, so we continued the survey. After nearly 700 feet, the ceiling got lower and we could hear gurgling sounds. Keely swam far enough ahead to see the actual sump. End of survey.
(BRG meeting 6/15/2018) p2
(Maxwelton 6/8 cont.) We went back to the mud dig, where Keely dug enough until she could squeeze into the crawl. She went in about 40 feet to a Y, but couldn't go further without digging. It did have air, flowing in, but it would have been too hard to dig. Keely was able to turn around and come out head first. She was slimed. The trip out was long and hard. My pack weighed a ton and my arms wore out. We decided to go back the regular way, avoiding the vertical climbs of the shortcut. We exited at 12:30am to a downpour and thunderstorm! Heavy rain! But the field station was totally dry, so the storm was only over Maxwelton. It was a good 13 hour trip in which we surveyed 683 feet.
6/9: Moon Mouse Cave, WV. Participants included David Socky, David Smallwood, and Ed Saugstad. Carroll Bassett and Cliff Lindsay helped find the cave. Gordon Cole and one other were digging at the 'Boils', along the road.
This was a little cave up on the south hill just a mile or so from Carroll Bassett’s house. Carroll came along to show us where the cave was. We hiked up and down, north and south, and could not find the cave. We spent a long time until finally Carroll called Cliff Lindsay, who had the location on GPS. Cliff said he wasn't doing anything so he showed up a half hour later with a GPS. He couldn't find it. Again, we hiked up and down, north and south, until Cliff finally called Lois, his wife, to get the written descriptions he had forgotten. He finally confirmed it was in fact waypoint 502, so we concentrated on that area. After going around in circles, Ed nearly fell into the hole. We had walked past the entrance at least a half dozen times!
It was a small hole, going steeply down into the hillside. We put some webbing down, and Dave Smallwood went down first, then Ed. They came back out with some difficulty. I said if I go in, we are surveying it. As it turned out, it wasn't that difficult to get in or out. The webbing wasn't really necessary, but it did help. The narrow hole went down about 20 feet until it got to a room which was about 20 feet long, full of breakdown. There was one lead halfway down which was blocked by a big rock and would require digging, but it really didn’t look worth pursuing. We surveyed the cave with 6 stations and a total of 48 feet. There were lots of salamanders! Plus there were lots of cave crickets. By the way, Carroll Bassett, John Kerr, and Bruce Fries dug the cave open years ago.
6/13: Dave Socky, Dave Collings, Ed Saugstad went to Locomotive Breath Cave, VA to look for and push any leads that might connect to Lowmoor Cave. They used 15-20 straws. No promising leads. Ed was feeling ill for a while, but went caving anyway. Once home, he called the doctor, and got a thorough check up – diagnosis: A-fib and heart flutter episode.
June 2018: Matthew and Sonja Joyce visited Mammoth Cave, KY and in addition to the show cave tours, got on the Mammoth Wild Cave trip. They had a blast! Over six hours of exploring one small part of the longest cave in the world. The tight areas were challenging. They enjoyed their caving experience so much, that they drove up to Roanoke to meet the BRG cavers!
· BRG trip to Butler Cave, VA tomorrow.
· June 23, 2018 – BRG is assisting with a James River Grotto trip at Catawba Murder Hole, VA. Dave Socky is leader, meet at HROM 9:30a if you want to help with the trip.
· June 30 - VA Cave Board meeting @ Natural Bridge SP Visitor Center, 11a.
· Next Month’s BRG trip – undecided, to be announced. (Carl Cornett suggested Giant Caverns, VA - vertical)
June 15, 2018 BRG Treasury Report
$ 100.64 Cave Bucks
$ 160.64 Conservation Fund
$ 235.36 Equipment Fund
Newsletter – June 2018 DUMP published. One more to go! The newsletter editors will not publish in August 2018.
Membership – No change. BRG has 56 members and 4 subscribers for 2018.
ROCKS – Wrapping up Lowmoor Cave Survey. Spencer Frantz has not gotten back with BRG on Botetourt Co. landowners.
Safety & Techniques --- Nothing.
Membership Proposals: No proposals at this time. (Lauren Appel looked at the BRG membership application folder to see what others had done for their letters, so we may have a new member soon.)
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· Gene Harrison, Mary Socky & Trish Geiger volunteered at Over the Edge for the rappel. See trip report.
· ACCA ballot – all 6 directors were acceptable. Ballot was completed, mailed in.
· Replacement 4 new headlamps for BRG helmets – Doug got them @ $9.00 apiece. They have survived one cave trip already. Now ALL BRG systems use AAA batteries. Thanks, Doug!
· MAKC request for additional funds. After discussion, Dave Socky motioned that $25.00 be sent to MAKC. Carl Cornett seconded. Vote passed, with 2 abstentions. Send MAKC their $.
· NSS request for fund to “tear down the White House” – the white house is over Shelta Cave, so it now a “Shelta Cave Preserve” request. Treasurer Dave Socky sent in the $60.00 after the last meeting. NSS thanks BRG for donation. (In the meantime, the cost to tear the old building down has gone up from $12K to $20K, due to asbestos issues.)
· CaveSim request for travel funds. Dave Jackson sent a nice PPS, but we forgot to bring and share it with BRG. Discussion on how BRG has supported CaveSim in the past. Dave Socky motioned that BRG send $50.00 to CaveSim for Convention travel. Mary Socky seconded. Motion passed with 3 abstaining.
· Date conflict: Sept. 21, 2018 is BRG meeting AND the start of Fall VAR. Fall VAR WINS! No Sept. BRG meeting.
· BSA update: Mary Sue Socky recounted recent conversations with other regional cavers who volunteer with BSA. While some BSA troops are wonderful to work with, others are taking advantage of caver ‘good will’ and are showing up unprepared, underequipped, and with additional participants who want to go caving, even after the organizational meeting. Cavers, you are very nice to put up with this, but YOU ARE THE LEADERS. YOU choose the date and cave! If any group does not follow your requirements for a wild cave trip, or attempts to take advantage of your good will, YOU have every right to, and should CANCEL THE CAVE TRIP. There is a list of regional show caves that will take BSA caving (for a fee) that should be given to any scout group that makes this request.
· 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!
· June 30, 11a - VA Cave Board meeting at the Natural Bridge State Park Visitor Center.
· July 28-Aug 4, 2018: NSS Convention in Helena, MT
Sept 21-23, 2018: Fall VAR, at New River Junction. Hosted by VPI Cave Club. www.fallVAR2018.com
Meeting ended 7:18p, followed by
Program: Dave Socky’s slide show of the exploration of Maxwelton Cave, WV. (this program will be given at a local WV church on 7/23/2018.)
We were going to see a PPS on CaveSim, but it had been left off the travel computer.
Minutes by BRG Secretary,
Mary Sue Socky