Monthly Meeting Minutes –  via Zoom

April 16, 2021


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

Mary Sue Socky – Secretary                         Meredith Weberg                            Bob Gulden & *Orion Gulden     

Lynn Ott                                                               John Fox                                               Nick Schmalenberger                   

Jeff Huffman                                                      *Pat Banks                                          Alex Sproul

Kevin Johnson                                                   *Carrie Doupnik                                *Carol Tiderman

                                                (* denotes guest)


Meeting called to order 7:05p by Chair Marian McConnell.

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


3/20: McClungs Cave, WV. Participants included David Socky and Joe Zokaites. We surveyed from the end of the SOT survey, which was near First Breakdown, to the end of the first section of the entrance canyon, where the Musser’s Mess side lead takes off. One more survey is required to tie in the hanging survey of the entrance passage. It was a good 8.5-hour day with 852 feet of survey.

3/23: Windy Mouth, WV. Participants included David Socky and Nick Socky. Nick did a bolt climb in the dome complex near the Waterfall Room. It took 7 bolts to go 30 feet, but the dome didn't go. All leads were too tight. We then did some mop up survey in the dome complex. Next, we went just beyond the blowhole and surveyed three leads. Then back in the waterfall room we did a mid-level mop up in a breakdown area with really unstable rocks. It was bigger than expected. It was a good 10-hour trip with 389 feet in the book.

3/27: McClungs Cave, WV. Participants included David Socky, Joe Zokaites, Bill Koerschner on Team One and Nick Socky and Bob Alderson on Team Two. We went back to the end of the LOL/INS survey (left lead by Megalithia) and worked on the tons of cave there. There were a couple of really tight spots in the INS survey which I just barely fit through, but Joe couldn't. We ended up breaking off a projecting rock with a 'rock' hammer, just enough to get Joe through. Our survey designation for the day was ANJ for 'Almost No JoeZo". Soon after there was another double tight spot, but not as bad as the previous. Once past the tight spots we got into larger cave. There is lots of passage to survey. Nick & Bob did two bolt climbs off the "Kidney Room", which is just east of Liberty Avenue. The one bolt climb went for about 20 feet before ending in mud fill. The other goes but may require a hammer to make it big enough to get through. It was a good 11 trip with 665 surveyed.

4/3: Dry Cave, WV. Participants included David Socky, Nick Socky, David Smallwood, Matteo Bucalossi, Greg Springer, Carl Amundson, and Chris Coates. Nick, Matteo, Smallwood, and I had an unsuccessful try at finding the 2000 survey which turned out to be just past the fish in the First Bypass. We surveyed about 5 stations but decided not to continue because we didn't want to resurvey stuff that didn't need resurveying. Ended up surveying downstream to meet up with Greg, Carl, and Chris. We actually got out in the daylight! It was an 8-hour trip with over 1300 feet surveyed between the two teams.                             

4/3/2021: Kevin Johnson and Carrie Doupnik visited Grand Caverns, VA to help with the monthly cave project. They helped with cave cleaning and moss eradication.  And they saw a bat.  Carol Tiderman gave them the tour of Grand, complete with a peek into the Drapery Room.  Kevin told about seeing the narrow access into “new discoveries” – only a few people have been back there.  Dave Socky and Meredith Weberg enjoyed describing the 8” crawl they and others had to navigate on the 1990’s Grand Survey project in that section. 



4/7: McClungs Cave, WV. Participants included David Socky, Joe Zokaites, Nick Socky, Bill Koerschner, and Bob Alderson. surveyed in Outer Mongolia. Bill, Nick, and Bob did the lower level while Joe and I did the upper southern route. We reached the end but left lots of leads. There is still lots of cave to do in this area.  It was a good 11.5-hour trip with 863 in the book.

4/10:  Paxton Cave, VA.  Jeff Huffman reported that he, Doug Feller and Susan Burr took Jacob Whitlock and Margaret NLN to Paxton to learn parts of the cave.  They encountered LOTS of water at the Camel, so turned back to visit the Anthodite Gallery in the  Historic Section of the cave. 



·         Tomorrow Sat. 4/17/2021: Lowmoor Cave, Alleghany Co. VA.  Email Susan Burr  to sign up.

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



4/16/2021 BRG Treasury Report, – Dave Socky, Treasurer


Cave Bucks          $   196.00

Conservation     $       0.00

Equipment          $   133.87

General                 $3,474.68

Total                      $3,804.55


*Cave Bucks:  Kevin Johnson & Carrie Doupnik contributed $76 for their ZOOM meetings to Cave Bucks.

 All Cave Bucks donations are voluntary; funds go to cave conservation programs.



NEWSLETTER (Dave & MarySue Socky) got out the April 2021 Carbide Dump. Thanks for your support; please send in articles, photos, and reports!

MEMBERSHIP – Let MSSocky know if you have not received your BRG packet.  BRG currently has 55 members and 5 subscribers  (total of 60)  for 2021.

ROCKS – (D. Socky) Grotto trip to Lowmoor Cave tomorrow; survey trip in Lowmoor will be 4/18/2021. 

SAFETY & TECHNIQUES – (D. McConnell) Nothing.





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

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

·         New Home for BRG in 2021?  Once we can hold in-person meetings, where do we meet? 

o   We could go back to Jersey Lily’s if the space is available.  Having to go thru the smoky bar is not fun.

o    We could go somewhere new.  Lydia’s Italian Kitchen and 419 West were suggested. If you are out and about and find yourself in a restaurant you like, inquire about meeting rooms. 

o   We need a convenient place a private meeting room with Wi-Fi, a TV, food service for 20 or so, and no rental charge for the room if everyone orders food.   Report suggestions to Marian McConnell.



·         2021 NSS Convention will be VIRTUAL ONLY, by order of the NSS BOG.  Dates are now July 26-July 30, 2021.  In addition, the NSS is planning an on-line auction during Convention. Details will be announced soon.

·         Pandemic Caving –Let’s be healthy going underground .  Rules have been posted in the Carbide Dump.



·         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!)  So, what date (and rain date) alternate would you prefer?

·         Saturday Aug 7; rain date of Sunday, Aug. 8.

·         Saturday Aug 14; rain date of Sunday, Aug 15

·         Other

Dave Socky will set up a Survey Monkey for BRG to choose the Get Together date.

·         Would you be willing to attend “In Person” BRG meetings?  (several people have been fully vaccinated, are interested.  Would July 2021vbe a good month to resume grotto meetings?  An email survey will be sent. 



·         Vote for Your Favorite Five!  Vote for your favorite five DUMP covers. Send votes to   Voting ends tomorrow.

·         Apr 18:  DCG Virtual meeting, 7p.  Presentation will be The Geology of Hamilton Cave, WV, by Chris Swezey. 

·         Apr 19, 2021: Special NSS BOG meeting.  Begins 7p. See NSS website for more info.

·         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. 



·         May 8:  9a-4p - Several Zoom talks on caves and bats for the International Year of Caves & Karst (IYCK)

·         Next BRG meeting is May 21 via ZOOM.

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

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

·         Jul 26-– Jul 30, 2021  VIRTUAL NSS Convention. 

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

·         Sept 17-19, 2021 Fall VAR @ RASS Fieldstation in Bath Co., VA  


Meeting adjourned 7:42p.  Followed by the NSS program, “Locomotive Breath Cave, VA”.  


  Cold Beer!


Minutes Submitted by

Mary Sue Socky, Secretary,

Blue Ridge Grotto of the NSS