BRG Meeting Minutes

July 19, 2019 – Jersey Lily’s Roanoke, VA



Susan Burr, Chair

David Socky, Vice Chair

Marian McConnell, Secty

Mary Sue Socky

Carl Cornett

Jen Suggs*

Lauren Appel*

Trish Geiger

Martin DiLeggi

Sandi DiLeggi

Bill Walker

Jacob Whitlock*

Bob Alderson

Jason Delafield*

Bob Gulden

Nicole Gulden

Dusty Gulden

Odin Gulden



1.   Trip Reports: 


Dave Socky:

5/4: Cave Hollow Arbogast, WV. Participants included David Socky, Bob Hoke, Dennis Melko. We surveyed from the Pebblehenge Room upstream towards Lake Susan. We stopped about 250 feet shy of the turn off for "The Crawl" which goes to the Golden Spike Room. We then made our way back to the Cave Hollow Entrance passage. It was close to 9:30pm, so there were no problems with the bats. So we finished the survey of the Cave Hollow Entrance passage, finishing at the gate. It was 11pm by the time we exited. See trip report.   It was a good 12 hour trip with 1225 feet of survey in the book.

5/11: Windy Mouth, WV. Participants included David Socky, Joe Zokaites, and Bill Koerschner. The second team was Brian Sakofsky and Evan Madill. We went to the upper levels and completed the loop between the PE survey and the QD survey. This is the loop we tried to complete in March 2019. We did it in 28 stations, plus a side lead. Joe was concerned, but he made it through all the tight spots. The survey we worked on was not walking, but was fairly easy. It was the travel to and from the survey that was a real beast. The travel time of our trip was 7 hours, leaving only 7 hours for survey. But at least it didn't rain going in or coming out. It was a long 14 hour trip with 6094 feet surveyed.

5/18: Maxwelton Cave, WV. Participants included David Socky, Nick Socky, Nikki Fox, Joe Calderone, and Chris Coates. We were supposed to go into Maxwelton Sink Cave Friday evening at 9pm, but when I arrived it was raining.  Because of the rain, we decided to go in Saturday morning when most of the rain would be past. The trip into the Retreat Camp was uneventful. The water levels were low and the Foxhole was dry. We broke up into two teams – Nikki, Nick, and I surveyed the horizontal passage after the Spartan Way, while Chris and Joe did vertical work to get down into the Emerald Pool and survey into the passage that was making such a great echo. Unfortunately, Emerald Pool was just a sump with no leads.  We surveyed about 440 feet in the High Hopes section, one of the most decorated areas of the cave. But all horizontal leads ended. However, we left three bolt climbs that looked to lead to going canyon passage.  We got back to the Retreat about 12:30am. The next morning, we completed the trek back out to the entrance, gaining the daylight around 4pm.  We were in the cave for 31 hours, but only got 460 feet of survey this time. 

6/1: Cave Hollow Arbogast, WV. Participants included David Socky, Bob Hoke, and Karen Willmes. Dave West came down, but decided not to go in because of his back. We surveyed from the Manhole in-feeder in the Cave Hollow stream passage toward the ‘360 Room’.  We were expecting a really tight entry into this section, but it wasn’t bad. After 30 feet it opened up to a narrow canyon passage.  Then, after a couple of hundred feet, it opened up into big walking passage. We had a great day of surveying, putting 1105 feet into the book with just 11 hours of caving. Good trip!   

6/3: Ogdens Cave, VA.   Participants included David Socky, Wil Orndorff, Meredith Weberg, Jeff Jan, Earl Suitor, and a few others. This was the first day of Cave Week. We took about 21 people through the entrance areas of Ogdens Cave in three different groups. We went to first room looking for snails, isopods, and other critters. Then we went through the gate and down to the perched partial sump where Wil had placed a trap to try and get some critters. It was a good educational day. 

6/5: Locomotive Breath, VA. Two locals got stuck in one of the pits 400 feet from the entrance. They went in Saturday evening, but weren't found until Wed afternoon. They came really close to dying from hypothermia. I arrived just after they had been pulled out of the cave. The story was reported in the local news.

6/9: Boarhole Cave, WV. Participants included David Socky, Nick Socky, Marissa Loftus, Evan Madill, Wyatt Hall, Nikki Fox, Kelly McCarthy, Silas Springer, Rob Wardell, and David Smallwood.  This was the second WVACS sketch class in the cave. We split up into two teams and surveyed around 250 feet of cave in about 4 hours. It was a good class and everyone did real well. 

6/26: Warm River Cave, VA. Participants included David Socky, Bob Alderson, Mark Minton, and Yvonne Droms. This was our first time back into Warm River in nearly 2 years. We went to the Conundrum Section again to work on the one going lead we left at the end of the section. The water was a little high because the last ear dip we had to do was a real ear dip – about 4 inches of air space. Once in the room which was very close to our lead, we had a snack. Anyway, long story short, we got only 60 feet in the book before the lead ended with a too tight down lead. That was it for the day. We took our time coming out which is why the trip was 8.5 hours long.

6/29: Maxwelton Cave, WV. We surveyed 2000 feet of virgin stream trunk passage and it’s still going! On June 28 Nick Socky, Chris Coates, Eric Pelkey, Joe Calderone, Nikki Fox, Carl Amundson, and I entered Maxwelton Sink Cave in West Virginia for a two night camp trip. Four hours to get to the Retreat Camp on Friday evening and then on Saturday Eric, Chris, and I trudged 4 hours to the end of the survey in Echo River. We surveyed large stream trunk until 8 pm. It took 5 hours to get back to camp, arriving about 2:30am Sunday morning. The other two groups found highly decorated passage in High Hopes after doing several bolt climbs. The upper levels still go! Between 3 teams, we surveyed 2700 feet, which puts Maxwelton at 22.08 miles! Our total time in the cave was 45.5 hours.

7/5: Lowmoor Cave, VA. Participants included David Socky, Eric Hahn, Viktor Orekhov, Brian Williams, Matt Vinzant, his wife Sarah, and two daughters - Carson at 6 and Conely at 4 years old - Viktor and Eric were there to visit Lowmoor to determine its suitability for doing a DARBA robot competition. Brian, Matt, and family were just looking for an easy cave to do for Matt's daughters. The girls did very well. We went back to the Capital Room area and then I took Eric and Viktor down the first finger from the Devils Kitchen. It was an easy and laid back trip. 

7/6: Butler Cave, VA. Participants included David Socky and Mark Minton. Our goal was to continue the dig/survey in a lead that had been left in Lower Complaint section of the cave. We made it to the dig in about an hour. While Mark dug, I got the survey gear out. I had forgotten my glasses, so we named the survey BAB, for ‘Blind As a Bat’. I was able to record the numbers ok, but my sketch wasn't worth a lot. Mark got through the first dig at which point we surveyed. We got about 50 feet before it got too tight again. Mark dug at this lead for 30 minutes but finally concluded that the big rock blocking the way down couldn't be broken or moved with just a masons Hammer. He finally gave up, concluding that other techniques would be necessary. The lead is good - there is air, and once the rock is removed, in looks like it goes. On the way out, we checked (re-checked) some of the other sections of Lower Complaint. We finally exited around 4pm, just after a heavy downpour.        

7/12: Dry Cave, WV. Participants included Greg Springer, Dave Socky, Nick Socky, and Nikki Fox journeyed into Dry Cave. Our goal was to go to the back of the cave to where our upper level section had a much decorated gallery with rectangular and square soda straws. Crawling and hiking through the cave was as per usual with occasional grunting and whining, but also with lot of oohing and awing at the pretty formations. As a side goal, Nick and Dave had never seen the Bitter End, so Greg took us on a quick detour. Nick poked around at the terminal breakdown taco for a few minutes and confirmed it did not go. Heading backward to the up-climb to get to our original goal, Nick noticed an alcove on the western side of the passage. Greg said no one had looked hard at it, so Nick climbed up and disappeared for 5 to 10 minutes. When he returned he excitedly explained how he had found the way around the Bitter End and was the largest borehole in the cave! No one believed him, but after 5 minutes of convincing, everyone following him up through the climb and squeeze. Sure enough, the passage broke out into a +100 foot wide room along the same bedding plane with at least 5 visible walking leads with no end in sight. After excitedly taking pictures and remarking about the find, we headed back after about an hour. We then made our way up to the square soda straw formations, recorded lengths and dimensions and took lots of photos. Finishing up, we started the long slog back out of the cave. We exited at 6:30pm for an awesome 8.5 hour trip. We will return to survey and to see where the continuation of Dry Cave goes!

7/13: McClungs Cave, WV. Participants included David Socky, Wyatt Hall, and Eric Steinberg. This was a survey trip for the WVACS Classic. We surveyed from the 2nd Breakdown down to Chocolate Ave, where we turned right, upstream, toward the 3rd Breakdown.  We stopped a few hundred feet short of the 3rd Breakdown at 4 pm. We had entered the Lightner Entrance at 10:30am. The Tufa Trail was about ¾ dry, but we still got wet up to the thighs at the beginning of the Tufa Trail. The cave was cold and stream levels were low. Our survey designation for the day was “WAM” for ‘Whack A Mole’. We had found a baby mole at the bottom of the 2nd drop in the Lightner entrance. It did not get rescued because by the time we got back to exit, it was gone. We surveyed 1048 feet for a good 7 hour trip. Also in the cave that day was Joe Calderone, Rebecca Steward, Chris Coates, and one other. They redid the data for their previous survey from Freeman Avenue to the 2nd Breakdown (We tied in to their COW50 station). When they did the survey back in June, the DistoX2’s were off by 3 to 4 degrees. Since all they needed was data, they were able to reshoot 50 stations in about an hour. They then leap frogged us and picked up the survey going downstream in Chocolate Ave. They got 9 stations. We tied into their EAM1 station (EAM = ‘Eat a Mole’).


Dave Socky noted re WVACs that there were 4 new discoveries including:  Dry Cave at the Bitter End, Silas Springer found via Maxwellton a tight lead into big walking passage. Dave Knox’s group went into Bash Cave and found big walking passage.


6/29: Culverson Creek, WV – Bill Walker, Doug, Jeff, Brandon, and a friend did the Wildcat entrance, then went into the other entrance looking for the log jam; didn’t find it.


7/13: Island Ford, VA – Bill, Lauren, and Jeff visited Island Ford. Lauren did well until she took her boot afterwards; her ankle is giving her problems again.


??: WVACs Class – Bill Walker participated in the class.


Bob Alderson:

6/18: Shovel Eater – Mark Minton, Yvonne Droms, Stephen McCullough, dig open second pit.

6/11: Blue Spring – Convention Trip lead by Cheryl Pratt.

6/28: Warm River – Mark Minton, Yvonne Droms, Dave Socky, surveyed 80’. First try back in 2 years. Through new gate.

6/29-7/5: Hamilton Valley – CRF Expedition:

          6/29 Mammoth Cave Albert’s Dome – 9 hours caving, 6 hours crawling. Surveyed 35 hours. Tim Green, Krista Bartel

          6/30 – Mammoth Cave – New discovery area, survey, Bill Koerschner, Krista Bartel.

          7/1 – Roppel – Kate Jane Trail – Bill Koerschner, John Delaney, Mandy Harris, and Boy Scouts. Hauled gear in for a bolt lead and didn’t find it. Left gear.

          7/2 – Colossal Cave Grand Avenue – profiled old tourist trail with Mary Schubert.

          7/3 – Roppel – Katie Jane Trail and Duct Work, Bill Koerschner, John Delong, Jason Wayland, Hanna LIeffin, hauled gear to digs – first one didn’t go, dig in Duct Work continues.

          7/5 – Roppel – Lower Eysia Way. Bill Koerschner, Bill Stephens, Mandalin Harris, hauled gear in to do a dig lead, windy lead still goes.

7/13 – Warner Noisy Blower – Dwight Livingston, Tim Bilezikian, opened up on pit – the last lead in the cave didn’t go.


7/11 – Memorial Day Cave – Jason Delafield, one member forgot his pack so they had to go back, another member forgot the key so they had to go back. Finally got to the cave at 1am and camp at 3am. Got to the lead, surveyed canyon, it kept going and opened into pit they named “Scaredy Cat Canyon,” did bolt climbs and found 2 leads to return to. Surveyed 300-400’.


7/? (TBD) – Tawney’s Cave, VA Moon Room – Jason Delafield and VPI are planning a movie showing; possibly “The Descent.  Details TBA.


7/13 – Ludington Yates – Jason Delafield during WVACs went and the ropes are gone. Not much survey being done since it has been closed.


5/18 – Paxton’s Cave, VA - Doug Feller, Susan Burr, Jacob Whitlock (newbie),

Dominique Dziadowicx, Brian Mayfield, Nina Rao, Jeff Huffman, Bill Walker - We met Nina & Brain at the store in Paint Bank. Brian wanted to do some cave photography in Paxton's. We basically did the normal tourist route that we do. We did see a couple of toads & a baby snapping turtle. I know we carried out the turtle & I think someone took out one of the toads that was near the entrance area. The other one was further into the cave.


7/11 - DEQ trip to Goodwin's, VA (Tom Malabad and Wil Orndorff) - We did not see any water flowing through the gate. The cave did have evidence of recent high water. Some recent flood debris was visible and the stream had a very washed look to it. On the day we visited the weather forecast was calling for severe thunderstorms and it was starting to rain and thunder as we entered. We could hear a ton of thunder even 300 or more feet into the cave. Based on that and the reports of really high water in the cave we only spent a few hours inside not wanting it to come up on us in a low crawlway.

The biology in the cave was great. We had a very productive trip in that respect, even with such a short time underground. Here is a brief breakdown of what we collected from the cave: Isopods 16 terrestrial plus some juveniles.  Spiders, 4.  Springtails, 40 multiple types.  Pseudoscorpions, 2.  Beetle larva, 3. these are  probably Pseudanophthalmus sp.  Mites, 2.  Millipedes, 7 multiple types.  Rove beetle, 1.  Beetles, 3.  Symphylan, 1.  Cave Beetles, probably Pseudanophthalmus pusio. 


7/12 - Dixie Caverns, VA:  Mary Sue Socky finally made it to the DC Gift Shop and gave the Dixie Crew a box of the Cave and Karst Trail brochures. Mary Sue also has a copy of the new Dixie Caverns access key. 


7/13: Higginbotham Cave #1 - #3, Greenbrier Co. WV.  WVACS Classic!  Trish Geiger and Mary Sue Socky led a beginner trip to Higginbotham's Caves.  Along for the trip were John Fox, Ed Saugstad, Bill Koerschner, Chuck Frostick, Kevin Flannagan, Emily Brent, Holly Magnum, Kara Schneide.  We went in with 10 cavers; the same 10 met in the parking lot afterwards to change and ride home.  The trip was comprised of old farts and new cavers.  One of the new cavers blew out both of her boot soles (old used boots!) on the way in.  These were fixed with duct tape and spare shoelaces.  Group also saw two pale, pinkish salamanders with reduced eyes, red gills, and fat tails in pools on the way to the back of the cave.  (Spring Salamanders?).  Trish fished everyone thru the sandy stream crawl to the bitter end.  On the way out, Trish led 4 cavers out the #3/Telephone pole entrance.  Mary Sue took the remainder (old farts) back out the historic entrance.  It was HOT outside!  About 80 people attended the WVACS Classic. 


9/2007: Mammoth Cave – Martin DiLeggi shared a canoe trip from September 2007 on the Green River, canoed 49 miles over 7 days below Collins property on Flint Ridge and to the Green River Ferry – Mammoth Cave National Park by river. Went into Great Onyx Cave and did the Coleman Lantern Tour.


7/6: Grayledge Cave, VA – Martin DiLeggi did a trip to Purgatory Valley with Ron Morgan and went to Grayledge Cave. It is unique because water flows out of a spring down the mountain into the cave. Owned by Craig and Harriet Wilkes and is open. Cave is only about 60’ long and has a nest of black spiders in the entrance.


This Month’s trip – No trip tomorrow 7/20.  Susan Burr is planning a Grotto Trip August 3rd to take her grandson to Porter’s.  More info via email.




Treasury Report – Trish Geiger, Treasurer

Cave Bucks           31.64

          Conservation       110.64

         Equipment           169.65

         General               3357.49

          TOTAL              $3669.42



Newsletter – CARBIDE DUMP.  Probably no newsletter in August. We always welcome pictures and articles!

Membership – One new membership proposal.

ROCKS - Dig in Greyledge Cave, and a bio survey of Purgatory.

Safety & Techniques – Nothing.


Membership Proposals: Nick Schmalenberger submitted his request, with Mary Sue as sponsor.  Also included a note of endorsement from Wil Orndorff.  Nick has NCRC Cave Rescue Training and we agreed to accept his request and table it for action at the August meeting.


Old Business   

·         BRG Bylaws Committee –   This has been voted on and passed. (34-Yes, 4-No, 5 Abstain). Total of 43 regular (BRG + NSS members.) There will be a brief article about it in the next Carbide Dump with the final changes.

·         Roanoke Cave and Karst Day at Science Museum in Roanoke - Saturday, June 8 – All went well, thanks to all who came out to help!

·         CaveSim donation - Dave Jackson got our $75 donation and expressed his appreciation.  He is doing CaveSim as a full-time job so all donations are appreciated.


New Business

·         Congratulations to BRG cavers who received awards at the NSS Convention:  Bob Alderson - Cave Ballad Salon - Merit Award and Best of Show - The Marion Smith Song; Susan Burr - Cover Art Salon - Honorable Mention - CARBIDE DUMP Cover April 2018; Marian McConnell - Cover Art Salon - Honorable Mention - ILLUMINATIONS Cover July 2018; David Socky - Cartographic Salon  - Honorable Mention - Crossroads Cave, VA map. The Bridge is gone so parking is next to the road.

·         Goodwin’s Cave is being sold. BRG gated the cave in 1988.  Owner Bill Drewry died a few months ago.  His children have decided to sell the property to one of Bill's 'silent partners'.  Hopefully the cave will continue to be accessible to BRG and other organized cavers.

·         Church Mountain per Wil Orndorff in Rockingham County, George Washington National Forest, has been closed due to WNS, but vandals are leaving a mess. A new species of amphipod was discovered in it so there are plans to install a bat-friendly cave gate the week of August 19th; contact Wil if interested in helping. This cave is near Harrisonburg.


Announcements (also see announcement packet & Caver Calendar on back)

Aug 9-11:  MAKC

Aug 16: BRG Meeting at Jersey Lily’s

Aug 29 – Sep 2: OTR

Sept 7, 2019: Virginia Cave Board – next meeting will be at Luray Caverns, VA; the public is invited. [Marian will not be able to attend.]

Sep 27-29: Fall VAR Friar’s Hole Cave Preserve

Oct 7-11, 2019:  NCKMS meeting in Bristol, VA (see flyer)

Nov 3, 2019: 11:30a, VSS Meeting, Natural Bridge State Park, VA   



Video:  2 short programs by Bob Alderson:  Cave Safety (by Hollywood LOL), and 2018 Huautla Cave Expedition.


Cold Beer!