Monthly Meeting Minutes – via Zoom

March 19, 2021


Marian McConnell – Chair                            Lauren Appel – Vice Chair             Dave Socky – Treasurer

Mary Sue Socky – Secretary                         Jen Suggs                                             Bob Gulden & *Orion Gulden     

Lynn Ott                                                               John Fox                                               Nick Schmalenberger                   

Susan Burr                                                           Jeff Huffman                                      Meredith Weberg           

Kevin Johnson                                                   *Carrie Doupnik                                Sarah Rowland

Chris Rowland                                                   Renee Rowland                                Michael Rowland                            

Paul T. Rowland                                                Alex Sproul                         (* denotes guest)


Meeting called to order 7:04p by Chair Marian McConnell.

After introductions, there was a short run through of recent cave trips:


2/20/2021: Paxton Cave VA (in addition to the official trip report in the March 2021 DUMP): Nick Schmalenberger said the trip was fun, and it was a winter scene, with snow and ice all over the trees at the top of Potts Mt.  Jeff Huffman related how he and Doug Feller tried going “a more difficult way” through a slippery canyon.  Jeff ended up with “Turf Toe” – from hyperextending his left toe to stay out of the bottom of the canyon.


March 2021:  Lynn Ott is physically going back to work underground in “the Basement” of her building at VPI. 


2/20: McClung Cave, WV. David Socky and Joe Zokaites. We surveyed the last undone passage in Batbone Crawl and then went to survey the major side lead in the Junction Connector passage (GDS survey at GDS25) which was supposed to have 100+ of unsurveyed passage.


2/27: Roppel Cave, KY. David Socky, Bob Alderson, and Bill Koerschner. Went into the Weller entrance past Stonehenge, the Fleeceway, and other locations and eventually ended up at the Princess B survey. Vertical was required to get to our lead, which was a tight, narrow, high canyon, where we surveyed mostly through the top. So it was also floorless most of the way. We were stopped by a flowstone pinch. We couldn’t get past the 4 inches of space to continue. We surveyed about 300 feet of virgin cave on a fun 10-hour trip.


2/28: Roppel Cave, KY. David Socky, Bob Alderson, and Bill Koerschner, and Holly McClintock. Went in the Weller entrance. Went out Popcorn Alley. It rained 4 inches - there was LOTS of water. At the bottom of the third ladder, we found a veritable torrent running directly down the fourth long ladder. We would get soaked to the bone, so we donned raincoats and plastic bags. Even with all the water, our survey was mostly dry, with the end of the trip pushing dry tight crawlways which I didn’t fit into. Again, we surveyed some new cave, but every lead got too tight, even for Kirsch.  


3/1: Roppel Cave, KY. David Socky, Bob Alderson, Bill Koerschner, and Jim Borden. Went in the Daleo Entrance. Holly came to the entrance but didn't go on the trip. We went back to where Bob, Alex, and I had surveyed last year over Memorial Day weekend. It took us 2 hours and 20 minutes to get to the survey. It was a long trip, but not really hard. And we got to survey in big passage this time!


3/6: McClungs Cave, WV. David Socky, Tisha Springer, Bill Koerschner, Joe Zokaites, and Carol Zokaites. We surveyed from the historic entrance towards First Breakdown (yes, a hanging survey). It was a team of five, but it worked out well because Bill did a great job of doing profile and cross sections along with the geology. Joe didn't mind doing just point, while I sketched plan and Carol and Tisha did instruments. We got 1141 feet in 9 hours of survey.


3/11: Maxwelton Cave, WV. David Socky, Nick Socky, and Joe Zokaites. We continued pushing leads only 20 minutes into Maxwelton Cave. Nick did another bolt traverse, but this one was a bust – a flowstone choke. We cleaned up a few other easy mop-up survey tasks and then continued the survey in the narrow canyon Nick and I had explored a month ago. More virgin cave, which continued for another 300 feet before we were stopped by a flowstone pinch.


3/13: Dry Cave, WV. David Socky, David Smallwood, Matteo Bucalossi, Nikki Fox, Greg Springer, and Joe Zokaites. Dave Smallwood, Matteo, and I made up the entrance room team. The rest started surveying from the start of the water. Our entrance survey actually got some virgin cave. Dave Smallwood crawled through a really tight loop in the entrance room, and then pushed a lead going south. It will take some technical digging, but it goes and has good air flow. The other team surveyed 53 stations in the stream passage. After surveying, we went past the Blowhole to change out Greg’s depth probe. All in all, it was a good 12-hour trip.




·         Sat. 3/20/2021: Poor Farm Cave, Pocahontas Co. WV. VA. Email Susan Burr  to sign up.

·         April 2021 Grotto trip – to be announced.  A lot depends on the weather.




March 19, 2021 BRG Treasury Report
Fund Amounts

$   146.00             *Cave Bucks

$       0.00             Conservation Fund

$   133.87             Equipment Fund

$ 3491.79             General Fund

     $ 3771.66     Total Funds


Asset Amounts

$     89.00             Petty Cash

$ 3682.66             BRG   Checking Account

     $ 3771.66       Total Assets


*Cave Bucks:  Lynn Ott contributed $76 for her ZOOM meetings.  Dave Socky contributed $1 for each of his cave trips = $70.  All Cave Bucks donations are voluntary; funds go to cave conservation programs.



NEWSLETTER (Dave & Mary Sue Socky) got out the March 2021 Carbide Dump. Thanks for your support; send in articles, photos, and reports, and we’ll try to print it.  Also, Gary (our newsletter printer) was very ill with Covid but is doing better now.  Keep him in your thoughts. 

MEMBERSHIP – The 2021 BRG Membership packets have been mailed.  BRG currently has 55 members and 5 subscribers (total of 60)  for 2021.

ROCKS – (D. Socky) No report.

SAFETY & TECHNIQUES – (D. McConnell) Nothing.





·         All Grotto meetings will be held virtually via ZOOM until further notice.

·         Porter Cave Project (Susan Burr).  Things will be on hold until fall, possibly in conjunction with 2021 Fall VAR.

·         New Home for BRG in 2022?  Once we can hold in-person meetings, where do we meet?  We could go back to Jersey Lily’s if the space is available.  Or we could go somewhere new.  If you are out and about and find yourself in a restaurant you like, inquire about meeting rooms.  We need a convenient place a private meeting room with Wi-Fi, TV, food service for 20 or so, and no rental charge for the room if everyone orders food.   Report any suggestions to the grotto officers.

·         Pandemic Caving – short discussion on the rules of Pandemic Caving. Let’s be healthy going underground and back home.  See Feb. 2021 Carbide Dump for rules.

·         Vote for Your Favorite Five!  Vote for your favorite five covers (or one cover five times).  Covers are in the Jan. and Feb. 2021 Carbide Dumps.  Send votes to   Vote well & often!   



·         NSS Convention in Weed, CA will be VIRTUAL ONLY, by order of the NSS BOG. 

·         NSS BOG meeting recently decided to drop the printed NSS Member’s Manual.   (Meredith Weberg, BOG member)

o   You can access the Member’s Manual on the current NSS Website (under Member Portal, not Publications)

o   Some folks are working to make a current (hardcopy) printed NSS directory.  It will be basic, not glossy, and may have an additional cost.

o   Geary Schindel was chosen as the NSS President for 2021.

o   NSS BOG has created a “LO” Land Owner designation, and is offering a membership discount to cave owners who join the NSS.   Marian McConnell wanted to know if it was ‘retro-active’ in some way to reward longtime caver/cave owners for their previous decades of support (LOL!). 

o   NSS BOG voted to reimburse JSS participants for their extra activities fee or something like that.

o    Meredith reiterated that cavers can (and should) look up NSS Officer reports and agendas for BOG meetings.   This info can be found on the NSS website  under business??

·         Thank You to Alex Sproul, Jim McConkey, and Dave Socky for creating a bunch (29) of slide shows for the NSS Archives.  The old slide shows were digitized by David Caudle.  These PPT programs are scripted, designed for people and grottos to view at Zoom meetings.  They are available through the NSS website.

·         Sara Rowland had a question on how to attract bats.  Meredith Weberg and Mary Socky suggested putting up a bat house; see sites:  BCI    Lubee Bat Cons.     Save Lucy Campaign    

·         Grotto Get-together at Mill Falls Farm:  The Rowland family lives on 26 acres of forest, waterfall, ponds near Big Island, VA.  They would like to invite Blue Ridge Grotto to come enjoy their new home.  Renee’ Rowland asked that if BRG was interested in visiting, that we choose a date (and alternate?) in August.  BYO food, drink, chairs, and water toys.  They have a cabana, kayaks, picnicking areas, and there is access to adjacent Bedford Lake.  (Sounds like fun!)


·         Remember that some caves are closed in the winter for bats – please respect all cave closures.

 VA - Winter closure dates: Oct.15 - Apr.15.     WV - Winter closure dates: Sept.1 – May 15.

·         Spring VAR 2021 has officially been canceled, rescheduled to Spring 2022.

·         2021 Grand Caverns Cleanup has officially been canceled, rescheduled in 2022.

·         OTR 2021 – The OTR board will decide by July 1 as to whether to have OTR 2021. 



·         Next BRG meeting is April 16 via ZOOM.

·         April 19, 2021 will be a special NSS BOG meeting.  See NSS website for more info.

·         May 28-30, 2021  Speleofest, hosted by Louisville Grotto.

·         June 6-12: VA Cave and Karst Week.  VA Cave Board will hopefully host outdoor talks along the Virginia Cave and  Karst Trail.    

·         Jun 28 – Jul 2, 2021 VIRTUAL NSS Convention in Weed, CA. 

·         Aug 13-15, 2021 Karst O Rama @ Great Saltpetre Cave Preserve, Mt. Vernon KY

·         2021 Fall VAR @ RASS Field station in Bath Co., VA No date yet.  Ask Mark Hodge. 


Meeting adjourned 7:32p.  Followed by the program, “Recent Cave Trips”– adventures in McClung Cave (WV) Maxwelton Cave(WV) and Roppel Cave (KY).   Narrated by Dave Socky.    Dave took most of these excellent underground photos using a smartphone (without a sim card).   

ZOOM ended 8:15p.



Cold Beer!


Minutes Submitted by

Mary Sue Socky, Secretary,

Blue Ridge Grotto of the NSS