Meeting Minutes

Jersey Lily’s Roadhouse Meeting Room


October 19, 2018


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

Lynn Ott                                                                 Lauren Appel                                                        Marian McConnell

Bob Alderson                                                        Keith Goggin                                                         Cyndi Hutchison

Meredith Weberg                                               *Nick Schmalenberger                                       (*guest)


Meeting began at 6:45p.  Vice Chair Susan Burr officiating. 



April 2018 – Bob Alderson joined the Huatala Expedition in Mexico!  Bill Steele was expedition leader.  The cavers were, in no particular order:  Kyle Lassiter, Chris Lloyd, Martin Huff, David Rose, Bob Alderson, Josh Haydeman, Scott Trescott, David Tirado, Jessee Hunsmen, Jim Smith, Matt Tomlinson, Lee White, (I apologize if I left anyone out.  Ed. MSSocky) Bob said there were lots of gnarly rope and-caver-shredding pits.  They did  microshaving.  There was bad rock and thin limestone.  Uncooperative drills.  Bob even found a vampire bat roost!   Bob took pictures.  They went caving every day…

4/8:  Big Wind Cave.

4/9-10: scouted the area, found Santona de Aqua Carrizo.

4/11: Teams installed 90 meters (300 feet) of rigging in Carrizo.

4/12: Scrieber Cave and Pit.

4/13: Molina de Carne (Meat Grinder) Cave

4/14: Carrizo – photos of a big pit were taken.

4/15: Carrizo – a team rigged the big pit, and connected to TAG Hall in Nita Nata Cave.

4/16: Cueve de Sere.  Team was Bill Steel, Martin Huff, David Rose, Jim Smith, Kyle Lassiter, and Matt Tomlinson.

4/17: Carrizo – this was a survey and dig day.  The rope got stuck, had to be rescued.

4/18: Dead Day.    (Bad chili for everyone?)


5/15: Bob Alderson, Keith Goggin and Dave Socky toured Lowmoor Cave, VA in search of a broken rope. 


5/26: Butler Cave, VA trip with Bob Alderson, Mark Minton, Vonny Droms, Nathan Roser, and Abby Hamilton.


6/24:  Cass Cave, WV trip with Bob Alderson, Mark Minton, and Vonny Droms.


7/21/2018: Maxwelton Cave, WV. This was a multi-day camp trip to Sweetwater including David Socky, Nick Socky, Chris Coates, and Corey Hackley. We went in Friday evening around 9:30pm and made it to Ghost Camp about 12:30am. On Saturday, we surveyed 3400 feet in 60 stations in nice upper level trunk passage. We drained the sketcher, Nick, finishing up the day after 8 hours of surveying.  Because we got back to camp early, we got an early start Sunday morning exiting the cave at 12:30 pm for a total of 39 hours in the cave. It was a very productive weekend.         


8/12: Cracker Jack Mine, MT. David Socky &Tony Canike visited Cracker Jack Mine at Cracker Lake in Glacier National Park. This is an old copper mine which never produced viable ore. It was all horizontal and walking and consisted of maybe 200 feet of mined passage. There were about 4 different passages, all ending in solid rock. There were places were you could see greenish coloration to the rock which led us to believe this was a copper mine. Later investigation confirmed that it was, in fact, a copper mine.


8/12: Bob Alderson  went on an  Idina Cave???! Tour, during NSS Convention. 


9/8: Maxwelton Cave, WV. This trip into Maxwelton included two teams. Team one was David Socky, Eric Pelkey, Hope Brooks, and Merissa Loftus. Team 2 was Nick Socky, Daisy Freedman, Matt Wardell, and Aaron Clair.  Also in the cave that day in Sweetwater was Nikki Fox, Chris Coates, and Keely Owens. All 8 of us went to the old T survey to finish off the waterfall passage and the upstream stream passage. Cove Creek was horribly smelly with diesel fumes. See the September 2018 Carbide Dump for the article which includes the details of this trip.


9/15: Cave Hollow Arbogast, WV. Participants for team 1 included David Socky, Bob Hoke, and Dennis Melko. Team 2 included Dave West and Karen Willmes.  This was not a long or difficult trip – the two teams surveyed until about 5:15pm and then took a tour around the Warm Room and Bat Room. Team one surveyed the stream passage past the Pebblehenge

Room. It was cold and windy, but they were able to stay mostly dry. The floor was really cool - black bedrock worn smooth with lots of potholes. The gradient was pretty steep. This was the way to the Cave Hollow Entrance, which is why there was such a good wind. Team two did some clean up survey off the G survey and then completed the loop around the Pebblehenge Room. The trip was 7.5 hours with a total of 822 feet surveyed.


9/19: Lowmoor Cave, VA. Participants included David Socky, Joe Zokaites, and Carol Zokaites. The team surveyed the 2nd truck entrance (north-east entrance) and the area near the entrance. They got 1180 feet of survey including some real cave. They stopped at the end of one mine gallery that had 4 leads up into cave passage that involved a lot of climbing to get to what looked like going lower levels. Carol didn't feel up to doing this kind of caving, so they called it a day.


9/22: Harris Cave, VA. Surveying during VAR! What fun! David Socky, Tommy Polson, Molly Lucier, Mike Futrell, Andrea Futrell, and Alice Jaworski headed a few miles from VAR to survey this small cave. It did take us a little while to find the entrance - we had to bush whack on a hillside through the woods for an hour or so until Molly finally found the entrance, which was larger than I thought it would be. Mike, Andrea, and Alice started surveying at the entrance and got 838 feet of survey. The other team got 662 feet for a total of 1500 feet. The cave is probably a total of 2000 feet long. One more trip should finish it. The cave had two levels and had lots of mud, but it was mostly dry. It was pretty slanted, with a few little climbs here and there, but nothing really difficult. It was a fun trip.


9/22:  Lauren Appel and a bunch of other people went on a VAR trip to Tawney’s Cave, VA.  They went to the sinkhole, where the dead bull is STILL mouldering. Lauren met two new folks on the trip, Kim and Conner, and invited them back to BRG camp, where they were invited to upcoming BRG meetings! 


9/22:  Nick Schmalenberger went on a VAR VPI-led vertical trip to Clover Hollow Cave, VA.  They did not get to the gypsum areas, but they did visit the Library.  Good Trip!


9/25: Cedar Knob Cave, VA. Participants included David Socky, Mark Hodge, and Maret Maxwell. This is Mark's cave on his hillside that he more or less dug out - the whole thing. He dug out thousands of buckets of dirt, sand, & rock. The cave is 230 feet long and about 44 feet deep. The entrance is vertical. It was a pretty nice cave, with some really nice formations near the end in a place called the Red Room. Mark is doing the cartography and plans to have a map in time for the VSS meeting.


9/30: Catawba Murder Hole, VA. Participants included DanO & Marian McConnell, David Socky, Mary Sue Socky, Stephanie Petri, Carl Cornett, plus 6 paranormal investigators. Stephanie, Carl, and Dave went in and placed 5 IR cameras plus a digital sound recorder in the mid-level cave to help the paranormal people try to detect ghosts. We went in and placed the gear and then climbed back out (via the talus slope). We waited for 3 hours and went back in to remove the equipment. Marian will be writing up a report on their findings sometime or another.


10/4: New Dixie Cave, VA. Participants included David Socky, Wil Orndorff, Tom Malabad, and Katarina Ficco. We did a quick trip into New Dixie in order to search for beetles and other bugs on behalf of the DCR. The lock on the gate was fine. No signs of people trying to get in. The key worked in the lock without any problems. As far as I could tell, no one had been in the cave since my last visit. We did find some beetles and spring tails. But no aquatic creatures were found. The downstream passage was sumped because of high water (lots of rain this year). We did check out the upstream passages where all the formations are.


10/5-7: Windy Mouth Cave, WV. Participants included David Socky, Nick Socky, Joe Calderone, and Kelly McCarthy. This was a camp trip where we went in Friday night around 10:30pm. Camp was located just past the Waterfall Room. We got to camp around 12:45am and made it to bed by 1:30am. We surveyed in the upper levels, about 2 hours from camp. Kelly and David were on one team with Nick and Joe on the other. Kelly sketched and we killed a number of pretty yucky leads. We then got to survey a better lead, which led to a nice canyon and then a large room. We all stopped around 10pm – cold, tired, and sketcher burnout. Kelly wanted to keep going, but we decided to stay together. We got back to camp around 11:30pm, did dinner and bed by 1am. Up at 8am and out by 11:30am Sunday morning. It was a really nice day. Good trip all around.


10/5: Mary Sue Socky went caving in the middle of Effing-Nowhere, VA with some speleologists.


10/6:  Nick Schmalenberger let some friends talk him into a trip… to visit hot springs… in British Columbia!  They soaked in Halcyon Hot Springs and Ainsworth Hot Springs (this one had a cave!), Canada. 


10/13: Bob Alderson went to Shovel Eater Cave, WV.  Bob worked on the Rolling Thunder Dig with Nathan Conaris, Mark Minton, Yvonne Droms, Steven McConglar, Dwight Livingston,


10/14: Gong Cave, WV. Participants included David Socky, Kelly McCarthy, Cooper Pierson, and Rocky Parsons. This was another dead bottom pit that Cooper had found and with the help of Rocky, they dug the entrance open. This cave was deeper, about 20 feet, than Pierson Cave, but still ended. Kelly and I surveyed it with help from Cooper.


10/14: Pierson Cave, WV. Participants included David Socky, Kelly McCarthy, Cooper Pierson, and Rocky Parsons. This was a dead bottom pit that Cooper had found and with the help of Rocky, they dug the entrance open. The pit was only about 12 feet deep. Kelly actually free climbed out with an ascender belay. Kelly and I surveyed it with help from Cooper. Nick Socky and David Smallwood went and worked on Cow #378 Cave.


10/14: Cow #378 Cave, WV. Nick Socky and David Smallwood rappelled into this pit at an earlier date, and today was to dig open a lead at the bottom of this 40 foot deep pit. David Socky, Kelly McCarthy, and Cooper Pierson rappelled in when the survey started to check it out, while Rocky Parsons supplied surface support.  Unfortunately, the passage beyond the dig only went for 9 feet to a small dome and then ended. Oh well.


10/18: Maxwelton Cave, WV. Participants included David Socky. Mark Hodge failed to find the meet spot because he didn't have a smart phone or a cell phone. My fault for not making sure he knew where to meet. Anyway, I went on a solo trip to Cove Creek. The diesel smell was still present, but not even close to being as bad as it was in September. But it was still there. I took a water sample (Nick Schaer pointed out later; Dave didn't use the correct type of sample bottle so they probably won't do an analysis). It took me 35 minutes to get to the Latte Room. The whole trip was 1.5 hours, with No problems.


8/26:  Susan Burr told of the last grotto trip, into Perry Saltpeter Cave, VA.  Susan, Doug Feller, Lauren Appel, Trish Geiger, Nick Schmalenberger, Jeff and Hillary Huffman, Carl Cornett, and Bill Walker took the long uphill stroll to the massive gate at the cave entrance.  After getting the gate open, they had fun exploring all levels of the cave, taking photos of the saltpeter works, and did a “bat count” for Wil Orndorff (3 live, 2 dead, all in “Pit Area”).  They also noticed a lot of trash.  They collected some, but may want to return and do a clean-up conservation trip sometime.  Oh yeah, someplace they observed lots of bones and feathers and a raccoon tail and possibly a squirrel tail.  Predator den?  


10/11: Mary Sue Socky and Katerina Ficco did a biological assessment trip into Dixie Caverns, VA.  There were many Slimy (Dixie) salamanders (I counted 20!) and cave crickets in the cave. Katerina found spiders, but no beetles. The most critters –springtails – she found was in the leaf litter and on the old wood props abandoned in the Tunnel (from Haunted Cave). Nothing alive in the water.  This was also the day Hurricane Michael blew through SW VA and caused lots of flooding. 




·         Still NO October cave trip.  Need to decide on a cave.  Susan was interested in Marshall Cave, VA access.

·         No November 17 cave trip yet – still undecided. 

·         Dec. 1, 2018:  Caroling in the Caverns, Grand Caverns, VA – need volunteers to set up, light and take down decorations, monitor tourists in cave.  Contact Carol Tiderman to volunteer.




October 18, 2018 BRG Treasury Report

Fund Amounts

$   31.64                Cave Bucks

$   110.64              Conservation Fund

$   185.41              Equipment Fund

$ 2838.46              General Fund

     $ 3165.96     Total Funds    David Socky, Treasurer



Newsletter – Got another CARBIDE DUMP out.  Editor Dave – I have been choosing the covers.  If anyone has photos or artwork they would like featured on the DUMP, please send them in. 

Membership – 47 members and 4 subscribers for 2018.  Dues are due next month.  Some have paid for multiple years. 

ROCKS –Nothing much

Safety & Techniques --- No report.


Membership Proposals:  None 


Old Business

·         Karst Day (9-18-18) @ Heritage HS, Lynchburg, VA.  All day, multimedia presentation on Karst and Caves to app. 600 students.  Went very well.  Event was featured in local newspaper. Marian McConnell, Dave & Mary Sue Socky and Ken Mays (JRG) showed MURDER HOLE, interacted with students, and answered questions.  BRG officers are continuing to work with Gretchen Boeren and Lynchburg City School systems to secure $300.00 grant from the event. 

·         Fall VAR Recap (9-21/22-2018) @New River Junction Campground.  183 people attended.  Lots of good cave trips!  It rained 8” Saturday night.  New VAR Officers:  Judy Fisher stepped down; Mark Hodge is now VAR Vice Chair.  John Fox stepped down; Blake Jordan is now VAR Treasurer.  Thank You, Judy and John, for 20+ years of service!

·         Paranormal Monitoring in CMH (9-30-18).  Dan & Marian McConnell met with “Unsolved Mysteries and Unknown Sightings people @ CMH.  Stephanie Petri, Carl Cornett, Dave & Mary Sue Socky came out to help.  Dave, Steph and Carl placed acoustic monitors in cave, retrieved them after several hours.  Paranormal folks said some stuff was picked up, has shared their findings with BRG. 

·         Cave and Karst Trails – Dave Socky took two Cave and Karst Trail signs to Dixie Caverns, for them to place on property.  Meredith will talk with owner, encourage them to participate in this VA Cave board project.  The info can be accessed at 

·         CaveSim – auctioning of T-shirt was postponed, will be done at Nov. 16 meeting, or at BRG Christmas Party.

·         NSS Book raffle – Lynn Ott still has books left over from NSS BOG meeting, would like to have them auctioned off too.  “The List” of titles will be reprinted in the DUMP.


New Business

Grotto Officer Nominations. All officers have reached the end of their terms, and must step down from their current positions next month.  Officers must be a BRG member for one year, and also be current NSS members.   So far:

Grotto Chair  -       Susan Burr,  NSS 53888

Vice Chair  -           David Socky, NSS 16334

Secretary –           Marian McConnell, NSS 37358

Treasurer -            Trish Geiger, NSS 28182


Please consider adding your name as a potential grotto officer.  Most positions take one hour a month of your time.

Nominations will remain open until the November 16, 2018 Blue Ridge Grotto meeting. 


·         Does BRG want to send Landowner Christmas Cards?  Overwhelmingly YES.  We sent 75 cards in 2017.  Options:

o    NEW artwork or photos (at the next meeting) for a new 2018 card. 

o    We can re-use a previous design.  (Marian mentioned the “Santa in a Chimney” and “Snowman and Bat” cards.)

o    Marian can get us a Shutterfly discount if we want to do another photo.

o    Bring in your ideas and designs for the 2018 card at the Nov. 16 BRG meeting. 

·         Grotto Christmas Party – YES.  David and Mary Sue Socky offered to hold it at their place.  Pot Luck.  Noon-6p.         Possible Dates:  Saturday Dec 15, Sunday Dec 16, Saturday Dec 22 or Sunday Dec 23.   Let’s decide in Nov.      

·         Does BRG wish to continue to hold meetings @ Jersey Lily’s?  YES.  (After meeting, MSSocky reserved room for 3rd Friday, 6:30p each month.) 

·         Bob Gulden has posted NEW AND IMPROVED Long and Deep Cave Lists!  Check them out!

·         Caver and caveowner Spencer Frantz gave Marian McConnell a “goody box” of newspaper clippings, OLD NSS News, cave related stuff from 1947 – present.  Marian will have these treasures displayed at the BRG Christmas Party.



·         Oct 20: VA Cave Board meeting, Blacksburg Volunteer Rescue Squad Training Room B.  1p-3p.

·         Tomorrow, Oct 20 is Bridge Day, in WV.

·         Oct 24-31, 2018 is BAT WEEK!  (See announcement in DUMP)

·         Nov 3: Artisan Day” at Explore Park, Roanoke County, VA.  Marian will be there with MURDER HOLE books and DVD’s for sale. Movie will not be shown.

·         Nov 4: VSS Meeting, Natural Bridge.  Contact Dave Socky

·         Nov 10: Hickman Cemetery Road clean-up, Radford, VA.  Contact Karen Kastning.

·         Nov 10: WVCC Banquet, Quality Inn, Lewisburg, WV. $35.  Must Pre-register by Nov. 6.    

·         BRG elections will happen Nov. 16, 2018.  All current officers have reached the end of their terms.

·         Nov. 15: Deadline for nominating a deserving caver for an NSS Award. Please review the information at and submit your nominations now!

·         Dec 8: WVACS Christmas Party. 

·         Apr 6-7, 2019 (tentative) Spring Restoration Weekend @ Grand Caverns, Grottoes, VA.  Contact Meredith Weberg.

·         Apr 21-27, 2019:  Virginia Cave Week.

·         April 2019:  Spring VAR, hosted by JRG, to be held one weekend, TBA. 

·         June 17-21, 2019:  NSS Convention in Cookeville, TN. 


Meeting ended at 8:18p, followed by


Program – 2018 NSS Best of Show video “The World of Caving”, and a short video What It Takes to Get the Shot”.   



Minutes by BRG Secretary,


Mary Sue Socky