Meeting Minutes

September 20, 2019

Jersey Lily’s; Roanoke, VA



Susan Burr, Chair

Dave Socky, Vice Chair

Marian McConnell, Secretary

Nick Socky

Mary Sue Socky

Lauren Appel

Gene Harrison

Lynn Ott

Jen Suggs*

Jeff Huffman

Brandon Phibbs*

Doug Feller

Bill Walker

Bob Gulden

Dusty Gulden

Nicole Gulden

Odin Gulden*

Nick Schmalenberger

Jacob Whitlock*

Zander LeNoir*

Karen Kastning




a.    From Dave Socky:

8/3: Cave Hollow Arbogast, WV. Participants included Dave Socky, Bob Alderson, Chris Coates, Bill Koerschner, Dave West, and Karen Willmes. We finished off the Easter Stream Passage and started the side lead toward the Subway.

8/10: Uvala Sink Dig, WV. Participants included David Socky, Carroll Bassett, David Smallwood, Nikki Fox, Steve Zeitler, Aaron Claire, Rob Wardell, Ed Saugstad, and Chris Coates. This is the dig that might connect into the end of Covert Creek way above the Retreat Camp in Maxwelton.

8/17: Maxwelton Cave, WV. Participants included David Socky, Chris Coates, Nikki Fox, and David Smallwood, Carl Amundson, and Joe Calderone. We put 1151 feet in the book in Echo River.

8/26: Serpent Cave, VA. Participants included David Socky, Dave Collings, Mark Minton, Yvonne Droms, and Kevin Moyers (owner). This was primarily a science trip, to help a professor doing climate studies in various areas of the east.

8/28: McClungs Cave, WV. Participants included David Socky, Nick Socky, and Stephanie Petri. We went into McClungs Lightner entrance to check the downstream sump to see conditions for the planned dive on Saturday (Aug 31, 2019). I made it through the tight spot, and then it was demolished.

8/31: McClungs Cave, WV. Participant includes David Socky, Nick Socky, Brian Williams, Zeb Lilly, Chris Coates, Errol Glidden, David Smallwood, Nikki Fox, Rob Wardell, Carl Amundson, and Steph Petri. The dive trip was successful! McClungs and Maxwelton Sink Cave are now one, known now as The Great Savannah Cave System. It is now 40.6 miles and is the 3rd longest cave in WV.

9/7: Maxwelton Cave, WV. Participants included David Socky, Nick Socky, Nikki Fox, Carl Amundson, Chris Coates, Keely Owens, and Corey Hackley. This was another camp trip to Sweetwater. Surveyed a total of 2644 feet. But found a sump in upstream Echo River

9/11: Windy Mouth Cave, WV. David Socky, Nick Socky, Joe Zokaites, Bill Koerschner, Jason Sargent. Two teams. Up First Canyon. Total 620 feet of survey

9/14: Dry Cave, WV. David Socky, Joe Calderone, Rebecca steward. Surveyed 36 stations in the stream and finished at the Blowhole. This was to get good data for Greg Springer for the spin of the cave. The old data had problems. In preparation for doing our breakout survey past the Bitter End in late September.

b.    9/3: Top of the Rock, MO – Marian and Dano McConnell visited Top of the Rock near Branson, MO; which includes a commercial cave complete with “Bat Bar” where you can get an adult beverage to sip while you ride through the cave and on the waterfall tour on a rented golf cart.

c.    8/29-9/2: OTR: Lynn Ott and Mary Sue Socky reported that it was the best weather in the history of the OTR Convention over Labor Day weekend. There were 1,454 attendees, it was the 70th Anniversary of OTR, and had a 70’s theme.

d.    9/7:  Mary Sue Socky and Nick Schmalenberger went up to Grand Caverns, VA for the day. Nick visited Fountain Cave and Grand Caverns with Charles Kahn. Mary Sue visited Grand Caverns, helped Carol Tiderman relocated gravel along the footpath, picked up trash and coins.  Carol re-positioned some of the display lights, and she and Charles Kahn carried out a bunch of old abandoned lighting cable they found off-trail.

e.    9/14:  Mary Sue Socky took a short solo trip into Buckeye Creek Cave, WV.  She was checking out cave conditions for a future cave trip.  About 500 in the cave, just beyond the first logjam, she found and rescued a nearly drowned, very cold and almost dead red bat.  She brought it to the WVACS field station, where it warmed up, recovered, and flew away.  A successful rescue!

f.     Grotto cave trip for August was Culverson Creek thru trip from the SSS entrance to the Fuller entrance on 8/17/19. Doug Feller, Jeff Huffman, Bill Walker, Jacob Whitlock (newbie) & Susan Burr went. New to all of us. Between Doug, Jeff & Bill reading the maps we made it! Apparently there is a recently installed cable ladder in one place. We were excited to see the entrance with an old truck in it.

g.    8/27:  Conservation trip to Goodwin's Cave. Jeff Huffman & Susan Burr went to clear a path to the cave, check out the parking situation & refresh my memory on Goodwin's Cave for my upcoming trip. Of course it was raining that day, but not bad. Jeff used his weed whacker & I followed CAREFULLY (LOL!) behind him with my machete. We chopped down a lot of very tall weeds & in the process we found 3 turtles that day. Once we cleared the path, we went back to the cars & got prepared to go into the cave. Jeff & I went in & checked everything out, including the very long, very low crawl from hell. We poked around a bit in the back, & then headed out.

h.    9/15:  Goodwin's Cave trip on Sunday with Susan Burr, Doug Feller, Jeff Huffman, Hillary Huffman, Jacob Whitlock, Jen Suggs, Ryan Cecil (new newbie), Zander Lenoir (new newbie), Lee Slover (cave owner), Dustin Womack (my son-in-law), Braven Womack (my 6 yr. old grandson) & myself went. We had a few issues at the meet, but worked through them & made it to the cave. The path Jeff & I had cleared was still good. Everyone went into the cave back to the big formation room. We all just explored where ever at our own pace. I think everyone got back to see the pool as well. Of course I was mostly occupied with Dustin & my grandson, Braven. This trip was specifically set up to take them in. This was Braven's 3rd wild cave trip. Once we finished checking out the formation room, Braven, Dustin, Doug, Jeff, Jacob, Zander & myself took off into the crawl from hell! Once through that I let Braven lead in the back area. He was awesome! He even told me he was a professional. I told him he wasn't until he had been on at least 100 cave trips. We kept going in the very back until it just got really difficult & was going to be back to more belly crawling. That's when we decided to turn around & explore the rest of the back part of the cave on the way back to the crawl from hell. We all got back through crawl, looked around a little more in the formation room & then headed out. Jen, Hillary, Ryan & Lee had already gone out & were waiting for us at the cars. This property has a lot of pawpaw trees.  Jeff had showed me what a pawpaw was for the first time when we went to cut/clear a path to the cave. With the owner’s permission I found some pawpaw’s & we cut one open & all tried a piece or 2 of it after the cave trip. 

i.     9/14:  Windy Mouth Survey – Nick Socky. Same trip reports as Dave Socky, but also did 500’ survey in Windy Mouth, and on 8/10-13 did a 4-day trip into Jewel Cave; 9,000’ surveyed.

j.     This month’s Grotto trip will be to Poor Farm Cave in Pocahontas Co., WV on Saturday 9/21.  Doug Feller will lead. There is one tight spot; but it is basically a horizontal cave.





a.    Treasurer’s Report (by Trish Geiger, Treasurer)

Cave Bucks                 31.64

Conservation              110.64

Equipment                 169.65

General                   3,345.85

TOTAL                    $3,567.78


b.    Committees:


·   Newsletter – Carbide Dump – thanks for all the articles, photos, etc.  There may not be an issue in October; will depend upon Dave’s travels.

·   Membership – It’s not too early to pay your 2020 dues.

·   ROCKS – Next week there will be a dig in Lowmoor to Locomotive Breath.

·   Safety & Techniques – No report from Dano at this time.


c.    Membership Proposals:  None.


d.    Old Business:  None.


e.    New Business:


§  2019 Fall VAR updates – pre-registration, etc.

§  All current BRG officers are coming up on 1 year in office. Does everyone want to do a 2nd year?  Does anyone wish to step down? Nominations will be open October 18 and close November 15.

§  Requirements for Cave Trips: Do not post directions to caves on public sites!  Be sure to wear hiking boots. Be on time. Bring a complete change of clothes. Use a backpack with shoulder straps. Leave a call-back. Everything is on the list that is given out to newbies before a trip – take the list seriously! Pay the driver $5 minimum towards gas; depending on distance, $10 may be appropriate.

§  Some BRG lights need replacing – Mary Sue motioned, Susan seconded, buying 4 new lights. Vote passed unanimously. LED lights with 200 lumens and uses AAA batteries.

§  Report on Buckeye Creek Cave – see trip report above.

§  Update on owner’s lock for Porter’s Cave – pending, but we plan to cut off lock that has no key and get keys made for owner, etc.

§  Announcing Great Savannah Cave System, WV – see trip reports above.

§  Do we wish to book Jersey Lily’s for our BRG meetings in 2020?  Yes; Mary Sue will check with the owner. [Mary Sue completed this; all set for 2020.]

§  Grotto 2019 Christmas Party – Will have on Sunday, December 22 instead of the BRG meeting on Friday December 20th. Time and other info to be determined. Pot luck, BYOB, etc.

§  Grotto Christmas Cards – Submit your ideas and designs at the October BRG meeting. Marian will order through Shutterfly. In the past we have also used photos from cave trips.

§  NSS Updates – Mary Sue is notifying BRG trips who were inadvertently dropped from the NSS membership list – you must contact the NSS Office in Huntsville, AL to renew.

§  NSS Awards – Now is the time to nominate cavers for Fellow, Arts & Letters, Outstanding Service, etc. Deadline is November 15th.




·         Please submit your cave reports preferably via email to so she can copy and paste into the minutes.

·         Next BRG meetings is October 18th.

·         RIP:  We’ve lost some great cavers recently, including Red Watson (of CRF and Cave Books), Lee White, and Judy Smith.  May they rest in peace.


PROGRAM:  Guest speaker Nick Socky gave a multi-media presentation on his recent expedition and survey trip to the Tears of the Turtle Cave, MT, which is the deepest limestone cave in the USA. Excellent presentation!


Cold beer:  about 8:30p.



9/26-29:  Fall VAR – Friar’s Hole Cave Preserve, Lobelia, WV. $45 per person.

10/5: Lynn Ott shared information about “Tales from Dark Places” at the Explorer’s Club in New York with Chris Nicola; $75 per person.

10/7-11:  National Cave & Karst Management Symposium, Bristol, VA.

10/10-13:  TAG Fall Cave-In – Lookout Mountain, GA. You must be a current NSS member to attend, or be the guest of an NSS Member.

10/18:  BRG Meeting at Jersey Lily’s

11/3: VSS Meeting at Natural Bridge State Park, VA at 11:30a


Minutes by Marian McConnell