Monthly Meeting Minutes – Jersey Lily’s Salem, VA

June 18, 2021



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

Mary Sue Socky – Secretary                              John Fox                                                Carl Cornett                         

Susan Burr                                                            Tom Beaman                                         *Mary Lou Holland             

Kevin Johnson                                                      *Carrie Doupnik                                   Trish Geiger         

Karen Kastning                                                     *Larry Manning                                    *Brianna Bennett                

* Ian Pelletier                       (* denotes guest)                                                


Order of meeting was modified since Dave Socky had to leave early for a cave trip. 

First In-Person BRG Meeting in over a year!  Meeting called to order 6:39p by Chair Marian McConnell.


After introductions, we saw the program “Exploring Bell’s Cave, NY” by Mike Sandrone.  Both Trish Geiger and Dave Socky have been in Bell’s (aka Gage Cave), so they added to the description.  This was a very wet cave with so little airspace that the video made several viewers claustrophobic.  It won an Honorable Mention in 2020 NSS Video Salon. 


Recent Cave Trip Reports:

5/22: BRG trip to McClung Cave, WV.  Susan Burr, Doug Feller, Jeff Huffman, Larry Manning, Mystik Miller.  Some people did NOT like HATED the canyon!  Rest of the cave was enjoyable. Susan said the group went to the Liberty Bell, Aragonite Room & the Totem Room areas. I think we were in the Wind Tunnel Passage at some point, but not 100% sure.


5/22: McClung Cave, WV. Participants included David Socky, Bob Alderson, and Bill Koerschner. Also, Phil Murray and Dave Berman went back to Seven Fingers to retrieve a rope and cable ladder they had left in the cave years ago. So, there was a total of 10 people in the cave that day. We did cleanup survey in the Breezeway section. The upstream section down the pit that is off of the Geezer Deluxe connector. We then finished the side passage off the Beetle Run passage. We then did the downstream crawl which is the water from the Beetle Run passage. It was a long crawlway in water, but we could mostly stay dry. 63 stations set (probably 70 shots). We surveyed 1150 feet with 165 feet of new cave on a good 12.5-hour trip.

5/25: DiLeggi Dig, VA. Participants included Dave Socky and Martin DiLeggi. This was a dig Martin had found in the middle of a stream bed near Purgatory Mountain in Botetourt County.  The entrance is a 3 x5 hole going down into a small room with rock and debris. A crack on the left goes down at a steep angle with air blowing out. It is wide, but only 5 to 6 inches high. Rocks dropped down bounce for a way and then it sounds like they drop into a room. We dug for a couple of hours, but bedrock is blocking the way, so technical digging will be required.  It looks real good!

5/26: Big Hill Pit, VA. Participants included David Socky, Mark Hodge, Keith Sweeney, and Rick Lambert. We broke through to the lower canyon after about 4 sessions of digging. Keith went down first on rope, which was needed. Once through the narrow canyon, the cave got bigger, but then turned into a two-foot diameter 10-foot pit with a 10-inch solid rock drain going straight down at the bottom. Too much rock to dig. We surveyed out. The cave was 75.3 feet long and 51.4 feet deep.         

5/29: Maxwelton Cave, WV. Participants included David Socky, Carl Amundson, and Nikki Fox. We went in on Friday about 6pm, and were at camp by 10pm. Water levels where low. It was supposed to rain, but not a lot. We got up at 8:30am on Saturday. We surveyed 750 feet of virgin cave from one lead off of downstream Sweetwater, but the passage ended up reconnecting into Sweetwater. It was a good 45-hour trip.                       

6/2: Island Ford Cave, VA.  Trish Geiger, Carl Cornett, Cyndi Hutchison, Mary Sue Socky tried a small, easy trip to IsF to see if they could still do it.  Made it to the boiling spring, and back.  On the way out, Cyndi slipped in the stream canyon and bashed her shoulder but she’s healing up.  Thank you, Trish for helping us!              

6/4: McClung Cave, WV. Participants included David Socky, Joe Zokaites, Bill Koerschner, and Stephanie Petri. We surveyed 885 feet on an 11-hour trip. Got into new cave (but not virgin) after surveying a connector to the Dad Crawls. The new walking passage is only 20 feet below Minilithia.  We turned around at a dome with walking passage.

6/9: Vacation Cave, PA. Dave Socky reported: I went caving in Pennsylvania! Traveled up to visit with Dave Collings and helped map Vacation Cave with Johanna Taylor Neller. It was a fun cave that was 546 feet long and contained three small “lakes”. The cave ended in a really cool breakdown room with a couple of dead-end side leads. It was a fun 6.5-hour trip and nice to finish surveying the whole cave in one trip.

6/12: McClung Cave, WV. Participants included David Socky, Joe Zokaites, and Carl Amundson. Marissa Loftus, Mystik Miller, and Gabby Zawacki. Nick Socky, Eli Meyer, and Chad Casella. Greg Springer, Silas Springer, Chris Coates, and Sydney Hansen. Dave Knox, Eric Steinberg, and Alex Faunce. Ludington: Nikki Fox, Steph Petri, Rob Wardell, John Cantrell, diggers: Hunter Campbell and Ben Schafer. This was the great dig to start working on connecting McClung to Ludington. We also surveyed in Crystal Canyon (two teams), surveyed near the dig plus the dig itself (Nick's team), and one team in Seven Fingers (Greg Springer). There was also a team in Ludington - one to dig (Hunter and Schafer) and survey from the dig (Nikki, Steph, John, and Rob). The Ludington dig didn't make a lot of progress - it was wet, muddy, and very tight. Hard to dig and very cold. They were only able to dig for 3 hours. The McClung dig was better. Mtn Dave was able to break through the breakdown into a larger passage, but the way on turned back into a dig. But about 70 feet of progress was made. There was good air. A total of 3532 feet was surveyed in McClungs on a 13.5-hour trip.

6/16: Lowmoor Cave, VA. Dave Hubbard and David Socky. This was a trip to show Dave Hubbard points of interest in Lowmoor.  There were probably 100 to 150 clustered bats at the first mine overlook. We then took a quick tour into Lowmoor proper. We just went to the Devils Kitchen and back. We entered & exited via the Sofa mine entrance.

6/16: Jordan Mines Cave, VA. Participants included Dave Hubbard and David Socky. Dave Hubbard wanted to visit this cave to check for biology. We found lots of scat, millipeds, spiders, and even some cave beetles. We explored the whole cave, which got really muddy and wet in the back end. There was a funky climb-up with a thick knotted rope (which was needed). At the top, we could see the rope was rotted most of the way through. We spent about 3 hours in the cave.

6/18: Marian McConnell and Mary Sue Socky met with Dr. Karen Powers of Radford University to show Karen sites for her Cave Rat Population study.  Rats are live trapped with apples and released.  They took her to sites around the Catawba area of Botetourt Co VA: Catawba Murder Hole, Friendship Cave, Percolator Pit, and Thomas Cave.  As of June 25, Dr. Powers and her students will be working with Sharon Mohney on her Botetourt Co.VA/Timber Ridge property, in Black Forest Shaft and Mariah’s Cave.  Sharon has photographed cave rats on game cameras in her caves.   Dr. Karen Powers was delighted with the sites and help BRG members and landowners have offered. 

June 2021: Lauren Appel and friends visited the carbonate hinterlands of Kentucky, where they visited Mammoth Cave National Park, Diamond Caverns, Crystal Onyx Cave, Hidden River Cave, Onyx Cave, and other area attractions. 


·         Tomorrow Sat. 6/19/2021: Breathing Cave, VA.  One mile hike to entrance.  Email Susan Burr  to sign up.

·         July 2021 Grotto trip – will be held on two different dates:

o    7/17/2021 – BRG trip to Island Ford Cave. Beginner Trip. Contact Mary Sue Socky for info.

o    JULY ?– Susan Burr  will coordinate an advanced BRG trip. Cave and trip date TBD.  

·         Aug 7 – Grotto Get Together at the Rowland’s Mill Falls Farm, Big Island, VA. 



6/18/2021 BRG Treasury Report, – Dave Socky, Treasurer


Cave Bucks          $   196.00

Conservation     $        0.00

Equipment          $   133.87

General               $ 3,385.98

Total                           $3,715.85    


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

In addition, Dave Socky made a $5 donation to Cave Bucks for his recent cave trips. 


NEWSLETTER (Dave & MarySue Socky) got out the June 2021 Carbide Dump. Thanks for your support; please send in articles, photos, and reports!  FYI, there will be NO August newsletter.

MEMBERSHIP –BRG currently has 55 members and 5 subscribers (total of 60) for 2021.  Best of all, new folks are interested in caving!  Congrats to Carrie Doupnik, NSS # 71075.

ROCKS –Dave Socky and Dave Hubbard recently surveyed and inventoried Lowmoor Cave, VA and Jordan Mines Cave, VA.

Kevin Johnson reported that a cave was uncovered during excavation and blasting at the CarMax site next to where he works on Peters Creek Road.  Kevin will try to uncover more info.

SAFETY & TECHNIQUES – (D. McConnell) Dan will be getting a hip replacement July 7, 2021.  Once Dan’s feeling better, he hopes to set up future vertical training sessions at River Rock Climbing Wall. 





·         Grotto meetings –have returned to Jersey Lily’s Roadhouse/Salem. 

o    3rd Friday of each month.  Meetings start at 6:30p

o    Future meetings will be held in our old meeting room, beside the now SMOKE FREE BAR!

o    Sorry, but we must discontinue the Zoom meetings.  Holding a hybrid meeting is not feasible. 


·         Save the Date:  Saturday August 7, 2021.  Grotto Get-Together @ the Rowland family’s Mill Fall Farms, near Big Island, VA .   Rain date is August 8. 

o    Dave Socky will send another survey/RSVP to BRG members to see who and how many will attend.

·         Treasurer paid annual dues/donation to West Virginia Cave Conservancy ($50) and ACCA ($25). 

·         Porter’s Cave Re-Gating –during Fall VAR - is still in the works.  There is some concern that materials prices will rise due to pandemic shortages.  Is there still time to request a grant if prices have risen? 



·         BRG Webpage has been updated: In-person meeting info, and a link to the Caver Alert Info Sheet has been added.

o    Please use it

·         The West Virginia Cave Conservancy (WVCC) has a new cave - Haar #2 Cave, Tucker Co. WV. 

·         Al Stewart wishes for his collection of hardcover cave books to be auctioned off to members of the Blue Ridge Grotto, with proceeds going to BRG.  A list of the titles will be published in the CARBIDE DUMP. 



§  Karen Kastning has been contacted by an old caver, Frank Mullett.  Frank, (who is in his 70’s) and a friend are trying to do some cave trips, visit VA/WV caves that Frank remembered in his caving career.  Can anyone help?  Marian McConnell offered to be a contact and possible trip leader.

§  The NSS is planning an on-line auction during Convention. Details will be announced soon. 

§  OTR 2021 – WILL HAPPEN!!!!!  

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

§  Summer cave closures for bats (maternity colonies).  Other caves may be open for summer visitation.  Please respect all cave closures.

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



·         July 16, 2021: BRG meeting, 6:30p, in our old meeting room @ Jersey Lily’s, Salem, VA.    

·         July 25 – July 30: 2021 NSS Convention will now be virtual only.

·         Aug 7:  Grotto Get-Together at the Rowland’s property near Big Island, VA (Bedford Co.)

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

·         Aug 20:  BRG meeting, 6:30p, Jersey Lily’s-Salem.

·         Sept 2-6:  OTR, Dailey, WV. 

·         Sept 17:  NO BRG meeting!  Go to Fall VAR!!  

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

·         Oct 1-3: NCRC Orientation to Cave Rescue (OCR), Martinsburg, WV. 

·         Nov 2-3: NOLS Wilderness Medicine course, offered by Roanoke City Parks and Recreation  ($230)


Meeting adjourned 8:19p. 


  Cold Beer!


Minutes Submitted by

Mary Sue Socky, Secretary,

Blue Ridge Grotto of the NSS