Blue Ridge Grotto Meeting Minutes

November 15, 2019 – Jersey Lily’s – Salem, VA




Susan Burr, Chair

Trish Geiger, Treasurer

Dave Socky, Vice Chair

Mary Sue Socky

Doug Feller

Carl Cornett

Lauren Appel

Bob Gulden

Dusty Gulden

Odin Gulden*

Karen Kastning

Jacob Whitlock

Lynn Ott




 Mary Sue Socky filled in as substitute secretary for Marian McConnell.  Meeting began 6:32p. 


Trip Reports: 

9/21 – Rehoboth Church Cave, WV.  Submitted by Susan Burr – Leader: Doug Feller; Susan Burr, Lauren Appel, Jacob Whitlock, Mystik Miller (Greenbrier Grotto member).  There was actually a wedding getting ready to take place at the old church that afternoon. The caretaker had us park along the side of the road on the way out. Of course, we had to dig open the entrance a bit to get in. Mystik was hungover, but a trooper through it all. We hit most of the cave we normally go to. When we went to the back part of the stream, I was behind Doug, but he had gotten a bit ahead of the rest of us. I am looking down at my feet since the water was cloudy from Doug going through. Out of the corner of my eye I see something coming out at me. It was Doug reaching through the hole in the wall & it scared the S#@T out of me! We all had a good laugh at my expense. We headed to the mud slide next. Yes, we all turned into 2-year olds playing back there. We ended up using one of Doug's water bottles to fill up with cave water & pour down the slide to make it faster! Jacob even went down the slide on his belly once. After we had all the fun we could take, we headed out.


9/21: Cave Hollow Arbogast, WV. Participants included David Socky, Bob Alderson, and Bill Koerschner. We entered the Arbogast entrance about 10:40 am and proceeded the N survey (toward the Golden Spike Room). We continued the survey toward the Golden Spike Room. One spot will require some safety rigging because of the extremely slippery slope above a 12 foot drop off. After surveying big passage for 3 or 4 hours, the way on turned out to be a tight, but wide, 11-inch belly crawl which opened back up. To the right was the way to “The Crawl”. We surveyed 947 feet, finished off most of the passage in this area.


9/28: Dry Cave, WV. Participants included David Socky, Errol Glidden, Silas Springer, and Nikki Fox. Team 2: Greg Springer, Nick Socky, Irina Tabarana, and Chris Coates. Team two was the upper lead team while our team went upstream. Our team surveyed around 870 feet upstream past the Bitter End. Still many leads. Lots of leads left in the upper levels too. It was a long but satisfying 13-hour trip – long enough that we missed most of the festivities at Fall VAR.    


10/20: Batty Pass Caves, UT. Participants included David Socky, Bill Koerschner, Larry Fisher, and Gordon Cole. This was part of our Utah Slot Canyon trip. These are 'dug out' caves in sandstone. There are three ‘caves’ which are about 20 feet deep. Two of them had doors. One smells horribly of machine oil. The other has the mold of a boat frame. Larry camped outside, while the rest of us camped in two of the least bad smelling caves. It was fun.

BRG minutes 11/15: Trip Reports (cont.)


10/29 – Mary Sue Socky (The Bat Lady) returned to Cave Spring Elementary School to talk with the 2nd grade classes (88 kids) about all the good things BATS do. 


10/30 – Marian McConnell, Dave and Mary Sue Socky visited Covenant Presbyterian Church for an evening presentation on Murder Hole.  They were most appreciative!


11/2: Cave Hollow Arbogast, WV. We had 12 cavers for this expedition! Team 1: Dave Socky, Gordon Birkhimer, Bob Hoke. Team 2: Bill Koerschner, Marissa Loftus, and Aaron Clair 565.0 feet). Team 3: Brian Masney, Wayne Perkins, and Kurt Waldron (488.5 feet). Team 4: Chris Coates, David Smallwood, and Danielle Ellis (240 feet). Team 1 and 3 surveyed up the Serpentine way. Team 3 connected the Pebblehenge Room to the Manhole section plus some side leads. Team 4 continued towards Lake Susan in the LS survey. Total surveyed was 2184 feet! It was a good trip.


11/2:  Karen Kastning reported on the NRVG cleanup along Hickman Cemetery Rd, near James Cave, VA.  It was COLD (20F) but 24 people showed up, including 3 scout groups.  30 bags of trash, a tire, and a paint can were collected for VDOT.  Afterwards, as a reward, NRVG took the scouts on a short thru trip in James Cave, in the Field entrance and out the Sinkhole entrance!


11/5: Ludington Cave, WV.  Participants included David Socky, Nick Socky, and Nikki Fox. We went into the Yates entrance Tuesday morning around 11:30am. Lots of crawling until you get to the Boulder Room. There was a complicated climb down through breakdown and then the long trek down Thunderbolt Passage. We finally got to the 'New Climb', at the top of which is the Polar Passage. It's possible to free climb up, which Nick and I did, but Nick rigged a rope because the climb is somewhat exposed. At the top of the climb is a horribly exposed traverse, the other side of which is the Polar Passage. Nick rigged a traverse line for this. After the Polar Passage is the long Ludington main Entrance Passage. We got to the entrance just about 5:30pm. Found a newborn female calf inside the entrance. We helped it out of the rocks and then decided to try and find the owner to get help for the calf. We hiked about a mile to the road and then to the first house we saw. It wasn't the owner, but they had their phone number and said they would call. We hiked back to the cave and went back to the climb where we had left our vertical gear. We decided to go back through the cave. It took us an hour and forty-five minutes after derigging. (A trip went to the Yates entrance on 11/9 and it was noted that the calf was no longer at the historic entrance, so it’s been assumed the calf was rescued 😊).


11/14 – Dave Socky and Mary Sue Socky drove up to Lewisburg WV to assist Ed Swepton and Mystik Miller (Greenbrier Grotto) with their mini course on Cave Rescue, presented to Osteopathic College students.  Dave showed his cave rescue videos, ending with “We’re Cavers and We’re Rescuers”.  Previously, Ed, Mystik and Carroll Bassett had held demonstrations of rescue equipment and took six students on a wild cave trip to nearby Higginbotham’s #1 & #3 Caves.   The course supervisor said the Cave Rescue ‘mini course’ was extremely popular and would like for all of us to return next year. 


This Month’s tripMaxwelton Cave, WV.  Saturday November 16, 2019.  Dave Socky is leader. Meet at HROM at 8:30a. This Maxwelton Cave trip is billed as “horizontal: No vertical gear is required, but there are a few spots where climbing with a little bit of exposure is required.  There is also 400’ of hands and knees crawling to get to Cove Creek.  After that the trip will be mostly walking.  Bring your camera.


Upcoming: December 21 BRG trip – undecided.  We’ll go someplace not too far away.



Treasury Report –   11/13/2019   Trish Geiger, Treasurer

            Cave Bucks      -31.64

            Conservation -  91.01

         Equipment –        133.87

         General -           3,262.87       

            TOTAL                  $ 3,519.39



Newsletter – CARBIDE DUMP.  Oct/Nov issue was published.  Expect a small Dec. DUMP. 

Membership – Pay your 2020 dues.  Pay the Treasurer Trish Geiger!

ROCKS – More upcoming survey work on Lowmoor Caves, VA 

Safety & Techniques –No report.


Membership Proposals: Jacob Whitlock’s BRG membership application has been tabled for a month.  Jason is sponsored by Susan Burr.  Discussion, vote followed.  9 for, 0 anti.  By acclimation, Jacob Whitlock is BRG’s newest Associate Member.  Welcome, Jacob!  Have fun caving with MUSG when you transfer to James Madison U in the spring. 


Old Business

·         Grotto Xmas Party at Dave and Mary Sue Socky’s house on Sunday, Dec. 22.  Noon – 6p, Potluck, BYOB and bring your friends and family, too.  Directions will be printed in the Dec. DUMP.


·         Grotto Xmas Cards are done; Marian has received them.  DUMP editors will address, mail them.  The photo was one Marian took of a gallery in Luray Caverns, VA.


·         NSS Awards - TODAY is the deadline to nominate an NSS caver for Fellow, Arts & Letters, Outstanding Service, etc. 


New Business

·         All current BRG officers are coming up on one year in office. Everyone agreed to stay in their current office for a second year   Everyone was voted in for a second year by acclimation. 

·         Pay your BRG dues!


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

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

·         Welcome to Orion Robert Gulden!  Odin has a new little brother.  Parents Nicole and Dusty, and Grandpa Bob are doing well. 

·         Al Stewart has been in the hospital for a week and is now in Brandon Oaks Rehab.  Please sign the get well card and stop by to see him.  Al will be 90 years old in January 2020. 

·         Mr. Frank Sizer, owner of NewCastle Murder Hole, has died. 


·         Come to the BRG Xmas Party on Sunday 12/22/2019 at Dave & Mary Socky’s place.

·         Next BRG meeting will be January 17, 2020


(Nov. Announcements cont.)


·         Spring VAR 2020 will be a MAR/VAR. Held May 1-3, 2020 at Grand Caverns, VA.  Charlottesville Grotto and Seven Rivers Grotto will co-host.

·         Fall VAR 2020 - will be hosted by BCCS and will be held at the RASS property (Bob).  No date yet.  



Program: Topless Caving in Utah!  Dave Socky spent three weeks with a bunch of cavers in Canyon Lands NP, UT.  They visited Buckskin Gulch, Praia Canyon, and stood on the edge of spill-offs to gaze 200 ft. to the canyon floor below.  Gorgeous photos, awesome hikes!



Cold Beer!      


2019 BRG Caver Calendar:


Dec 7, 2019  Caroling in the Caverns, Grand Caverns, Grottoes, VA. 

Dec. 20, 2019: NO BRG MEETING

Dec. 21, 2019: possible BRG cave trip somewhere. 

Dec 22, 2019: BRG Christmas Party at the Socky’s

Jan 17, 2020:  BRG Meeting @ Jersey Lily’s, Salem, VA, 

Feb 1, 2020: Virginia Cave Board Meeting in Roanoke (Details TBA – probably at the Vinton Library).






Meeting Minutes Submitted by

Mary Sue Socky

Substitute Secretary,

Blue Ridge Grotto of the NSS