Monthly Meeting Minutes – Jersey Lily’s Roanoke

August 16, 2019



Susan Burr, Chair

Jen Suggs*

Lynn Ott

Nick Schmalenberger*

Marian McConnell – Secretary

Trish Geiger – Treasurer

Jeff Huffman

Doug Feller

Bob Gulden

Jacob Whitlock*

Zander Lenoir*

Martin DiLeggi

Dusty Gulden

Nicole Gulden

Odin Gulden

MarySue Socky






·         Porter’s Cave, VA 8/3/19: (Susan Burr) - Susan Burr - Doug Feller, Trish Geiger, Jennifer Suggs, Dustin Womack (son-in-law), Braven (6 yr. old grandson), Brian Brindle Jr. (Dustin's friend who has been caving before), Karla Teeter (co-worker who has been caving before), Taylor Thorp (Karla's boyfriend who use to help lead the park & rec cave trips) - We went to Porter's Cave. I was prepared with tools just in case, to dig out the entrance. Apparently that was a good idea. Doug had to dig out a little along the bottom part. Problem was the key we had would not open the lock. The lock appeared new & we had told the owner they needed a new lock. I went down to the car to call the owner & see if the lock had been changed & asked if I had the correct key. She said that the lock had been changed, but she couldn't remember the grotto that did it. She said she thought that was the correct key, but she ended up checking & found 2 keys together in a drawer. I took off back to her house to pick up another key. Meanwhile while I am gone, the guys are trying to remove the gate from the pipe because it was loose. That was a no go BTW! I get back with a shiny new key only to find out it doesn't work either. We had to abort that cave & headed over to Crossroads since it was close by. Couldn't tell my grandson that we weren't going caving after all! I am not terribly fond of Crossroads, especially with kids. We only managed to do the entrance area. Probably in the cave only 1-1/2 - 2 hours total. Doug, Dustin, Brian & I were very attentive to watching & helping Braven out. I also made sure at the more difficult places to stop & make sure everyone got through ok. Trish was great at helping out & bringing up the rear. From what I heard everyone had a good time even though it wasn't the trip I had planned. We are still working on finding out if there is a key out there that will open the gate or we may go back & replace the lock ourselves & make sure the owner has a key that works!

·         CA, NM, VA, WV caves by Nick Schmalenberger in July and August: 

o   In California I first went caving in the Marble Mountains for June 30 - July 6, and went in Trail Junction cave, Snail Home cave, Bigfoot cave, and several other caves I can’t remember right now. The caves were cold and mostly with streams running in them so it made me think of the lyric in The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald "In the rooms of her ice-water mansion”. The second week of July I went rafting on the Rogue River in Oregon with some cavers and other people, then spent the last 2 weeks of July working at my company’s office and visiting my family in California. July 27 and 28 were Avalanche and Kloppenberg caves in the northern Sierras of California, then I started the drive back by way of Carlsbad, NM.

o   Near Needles California, it was getting hot already around 8 in the morning but I got to see the interesting patterns raked into the rocks on the ground by the Mojave Indians called the Topock Maze. I also noticed on the topographic map I was next to “Bat Cave Wash”, so I scrambled over there and found a rock shelter around where a cave (Y symbol) is marked on the topo, so I assume that was the cave. It was also quite close to a big PG&E natural gas facility and I read a report on the bats from PG&E "Bat Surveys of the Topock Compressor Station Soil Investigation and Groundwater Remediation Project Areas”

o   The trip to Christmas Tree Cave on August 1 with Sonia Meyer (a Virginian!) was in New Mexico, in Carlsbad Caverns National Park. 2 other members of the Carlsbad grotto, Michael Moffitt and Melanie Ruegg, were also on the trip and it was their first time vertical caving so it was fun talking about that. It was pretty hot out and the cave was sort of hard to find, we didn’t have a GPS point, but the park’s description of the cave had a nice drawing of where it was on the slope above the wash, and there were lots of cairns so we eventually found it. The formations were very beautiful, including the “Christmas Tree” which was a stalagmite shaped like its name. We also had a plan to go to Wen cave after but it was 4pm by the time we had to decide so we went to swim in the Black River instead which was very refreshing. The channel got fairly deep right at the bank, there was a swimming pool ladder there and a nice rope swing. I also had some beers to share that were sort of warm but nice, and a cantaloupe we shared, before going to eat pizza and drink cider in town where we also met Michael’s fiancée.

o   August 2 was Sonia’s last day working at Carlsbad and she gave a nice talk in the afternoon about her project monitoring the CO2 levels in the tourist cave related to the number of visitors and previous studies from the 1970s and more recently but with lost data. In the 1970s the CO2 levels were around 400ppm which is normal for outside atmosphere but now are around 1500ppm. If they get up to 4000ppm they will be dangerous to people and also inhibit formation growth. I caught up with work in the morning and then went on the tourist route in Carlsbad, it was just really amazing how big it was with giant formations everywhere. It felt like Luray caverns but much bigger for the same number of people. I took the elevator both ways to see the tourist part of Carlsbad, so then I had a few hours before Sonia’s talk and I became a Carlsbad junior ranger by doing a crossword puzzle and answering questions about the cave. After Sonia’s talk I watched the bat flight, said goodbye to Sonia and drove a ways into Texas before finding a nice place off the highway next to an oil well to sleep in my car for the night.

o   Separately from all that, Sonia was also organizing a group of California people to visit caves in West Virginia and Virginia this week, so I joined them for some of those. First was Windy Mouth on August 10, but we got lost and ended up just swimming in the river. In Scott Hollow on August 11 we met another group from the VPI club in the cave, including Jason Delafield and Eric Steinberg. Eric also joined the trip to Pig Hole on August 15, then food after at El Rodeo in Blacksburg. I had to work the rest of the days this week, but the others went to at least Maxwelton, New River, Links, Tawney’s, Smokehole, and Clover Hollow.

·         Tawney’s Cave, VA – 8/? – Jeff & Hillary Huffman and Jason went to the viewing of “The Descent” hosted by VPI Grotto in the cave. The movie was projected on the cave wall which made it hard to see; next time they will bring a screen. About 20 people were there.

·         Maxwellton Cave, WV 8/16-18 (Dave Socky) – Dave was not at the BRG meeting since he’s on his way to cave in Maxwellton until 9p Sunday.

·         Culverson Creek, WV 8/17/19 (Doug Feller leading) – tomorrow’s trip will be to the SSS Entrance, an intermediate trip. Doug is leading, Susan has the list and waivers. Any non-BRG members must sign a waiver and get details from Susan.

·         September’s BRG trip to be determined.


2.    TREASURER’S REPORT (Trish Geiger) – same as last month:

Cave Bucks                 31.64

Conservation              110.64

Equipment                 169.65*       

General                    3,357.49            

TOTAL                    $3,669.42


*Susan mentioned that we may need to purchase some new lights to replace some that are no longer working. She’ll let us know how many; we have money in the equipment fund.


3.    NEWSLETTER (MarySue Socky) – Dave and MarySue were able to get an August issue out. Great job! MarySue gave Susan her ribbon for honorable mention for a Carbide Dump cover at this past convention. Marian received her ribbon from Blake in the mail for her honorable mention re Illustrations.


4.    MEMBERSHIP – Nick Schmalenberger had submitted his request for membership at the last meeting with an endorsement from Wil Orndorff.  Note that he has Level 3 NCRC Cave Rescue Training.  A vote was taken and he was unanimously voted in as a BRG member. Welcome!


5.    ROCKS – Nothing.


6.    SAFETY & TECHNIQUES – Nothing; Dano McConnell says “hi,” and has been having to travel a lot for his job.


7.    OLD BUSINESS – Nothing.



·         2019 Fall VAR updates – Will be at Friar’s Hole; see the info in the current Carbide Dump. No water – bring your own! No cell phone service; very primitive camping and porta-potties, but it is next to the cave. Jeff asked if there would be a “quiet” camping area; not sure! Note there will NOT be a trip to Lobelia Saltpeter Cave due to closure for bat hibernation.

·         NSS Memberships – There is no printed NSS Membership manual this year; the member database crashed and they are trying to restore; also, many of us have not gotten a reminder when it’s time to renew our membership! Marian and Dano lost theirs in May because they were not notified, and had to renew by calling the NSS office. Check your membership card (which now has to be printed out from the website) and/or your NSS News subscription label to see when your membership expires. You may want to consider paying for a lifetime membership.

·         Church Mountain Cave, VA – In Rockingham County, cavers have respected it but spelunkers have built fire pits, broken formations, and left trash. So there is a bat-friendly gating project going on next week – it’s up near Harrisonburg. Contact Wil Orndorff for more information or if you want to help.

·         Porter’s Cave, VA – See trip report above by Susan. Doug Feller will work with the owner to get the lock cut off and put a new one on with extra keys. Susan was unable to find out which other “Grotto” (according to the owner) put a new lock on with no key available.

·         Goodwin’s Cave, VAMarySue has been in communication with former owner, Lee, about the new owner, who apparently wants to sell half of the land and build a cabin on it. We still have a key (Wil Orndorff has it right now) and can do a trip in until the new owner takes possession; be sure to invite Lee! We will try to connect with the owner to educate him about the cave, and see what his access policy will be.

·         Lobelia Saltpeter Cave, WV – Closed due to bats. 

·         Bat Closure dates - In Virginia Bat Hibernation closure is October 1 – April 15. In West Virginia it is September 1 – April 15.

·         WNS (White Nose Syndrome) – Lynn Ott sent some information to MarySue to share with BRG members regarding an article from Virginia Tech about WNS.



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

   Next BRG meeting September 20

   OTR August 29 – September 2

·         MAR 60th Anniversary – September 20-22

   Fall VAR September 27-29 – Friar’s Hole Cave Preserve.


·         2019 BRG Caver Calendar:

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, but it is open to the public.]

Sep 20: BRG Meeting

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  


10. PROGRAM – Bob Gulden shared slides from the 1970’s about the old NSS Headquarters, and a Pink Panther visit. Then Jen and Nick did a cave pack and cave coveralls demo.