Monthly Meeting Minutes –  Jersey Lily’s Salem, VA

September 17, 2021



Marian McConnell – Chair                 Lauren Appel – Vice Chair                  Lynn Ott                                 Mary Sue Socky – Secretary

Lynn Ott                                                 Karen Kastning                                     Trish Geiger                          Dave Socky - Treasurer      

Jeff Huffman                                         *Erin  Bejjani                                        Doug Feller                           Nick Schmalenberger

                                                                                                (* denotes guest)                      


Meeting called to order 6:33p by Chair Marian McConnell.


Trip reports:

7/18: McClungs Cave, WV. Participants included David Socky, Nikki Fox, and Nathan Kearney. We went to the Crystal Canyon section past the drop after the Dad Crawls. Nikki and Nathan surveyed some new cave while I solo surveyed because I didn't fit into the new stuff. We then surveyed the route back toward the main canyon off the drop. We did some really small stuff and got stopped by passage I couldn't fit into. We then did a lower route, which led to a nice room where we decided to stop. Going east down walking passage we finally got to the large canyon passage south of the drop, but it was an overlook - about a 15-foot overhung drop into the canyon. There was no way to get down. We went back to the small room and tried going up stream where it was supposed to connect back into the room where we started, but it got too tight. We ended up having to retrace our steps through all the tight crawly stuff. It was a pain, but not that long. We were soon on our way out. We exited at 11:45pm for a long 13-hour trip. We surveyed 1184 feet.          

7/24: Lowmoor Cave, VA. Participants included David Socky, Bob Alderson, and Bill Koerschner. We surveyed leads in the Bat Cave Section near the Truck Entrance. We surveyed 473 feet (some duplication in the mine) and Bob did two nail climbs. The climbs got too sketchy on the first and we ran out of nails on the second, so we’ll have to go back. One section of the cave was an effective cold sink as the temperature was around 48 degrees F – pretty chilly.  It was a fun 10-hour trip.                      

8/25: McClungs Cave, WV. Participants included David Socky and Nick Socky. We went in the Lightner Entrance on this trip and cleaned upside leads on way to 2nd Breakdown. We then went down the major right-hand lead before Second Breakdown that goes to high overlook at Tufa Trail-Freeman Ave intersection. The start of this lead is a tight, but wide crawl which I barely fit through. Another 1/2 inch and I would have been stuck to the sticky mud floor. But I made it through. We surveyed until reaching a three-way intersection where it got complex with multiple layers of breakdown. Our trip was 9 hours with almost 1000 feet of survey!

8/31: Maxwelton Cave, WV. Participants included David Socky, Nick Socky, and David Lyons. Great progress in mop-up in Maxwelton Sink yesterday! David Lyons, who had traveled from CA to go to OTR (womp...), David Socky, and I worked in the Thunder Road area. We confirmed the quality of a few leads and got 500 feet of new passage, 170 feet of which was down a virgin pit! Got out of the cave before any of the serious rain for a productive 11-hour trip. Great Savannah Cave System is now at 48.37 miles in length.

9/11: Dry Cave, WV. Participants included David Socky, Joe Calderone, Paul Walko, Nick Socky, and Carl Amundson. We did a Dry Cave dig and survey trip. Nick Socky and Carl Amundson did the climb and dig to get above Imagination Falls, which is a good three hours into Dry Cave. Wetsuits were required, and after 6 hours of digging, Nick was able to get past the constriction, but unfortunately, the passage sumped after 200 feet. Joe Calderone, Paul Walko, and I surveyed two small muddy side leads, netting close to 600 feet of cave. They both continue, but are reminiscent of Bobcat Creek (small, muddy, and gnarly). Regardless, it was a fun 13-hour trip!


8/18:  Piercy Mill Cave, WV, and Piercy’s Cave, WV.  Participants were Doug Feller, Susan Burr, Jeff Huffman Lauren Appel, Nick Schmalenberger, Trish Geiger, Brandon Phibbs, Larry Manning, Kelly Perkins.  In Piercy Mill Cave, the huge rimstone dams/pools were mostly dry.  Nearby Piercy’s Cave, WV turned out to be one big, boring tunnel of walking passage with cold water, and some really deep spots.  They saw one salamander, sculpins (fish), crayfish, and a box turtle at the entrance to Piercy’s.  Everyone had a good time.    (NOTE: these caves are closed in the winter)


9/29: Nick Schmalenberger attended a VPI “NOTR” in Bland Co. VA – Nick Schmalenberger, Eric Landgraf, Paul Walco and Jason Delafield visited “Gold Pit’ in the Buddy Penley Cave System.   Nick reported “…We planned to measure the depth of the pit with tape so it would be perfectly vertical, but we had 3 50’ tapes for the pit being about 130’ so the plan was to attach them to each other with duct tape. It didn’t work well at all, and at least one of the tapes didn’t have decimal feet either. So, we just shot down the drop with a disto at inclination as close to -90 degrees as possible.


September 2021 – Karen Kastning was contacted for access to Adams Cave, VA, which is near Radford H.S.  Three small, newly opened sinkholes have appeared on the HS property.  There is no connection between Adams Cave and the sinkholes.  However, the school board is concerned, and a Radford grad student will take members of the school board underground so they can better understand what is happening on their property (and see all the graffiti left by students in Adams Cave.) 



Tomorrow Sat. 9/18/2021:  BRG trip to Buckeye Creek Cave, WV.   WET Beginner Trip. Contact Trish Geiger or Doug to sign up.   Bring a complete change of clothes & shoes for the ride home! 


Next Month’s Trip – TBA.   (Maybe Rehobeth Church Cave?)



9/17/2021 BRG Treasury Report – Dave Socky, Treasurer


Cave Bucks          $   201.00

Conservation     $        0.00

Equipment          $   104.12

General               $ 3,302.19

Total                           $3,607.31 


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


·         CARBIDE DUMP – Hope you liked the  Sept. DUMP.   We won an Honorable Mention in the NSS Cover Arts Salon! (Jan 2020 V55#1). 

·         Membership – We have a membership application.

·         ROCKS – Two area landowners have contacted BRG, wanting cavers to check out the caves on their properties

·         Safety & Techniques –  S&T Chair Dan McConnell is doing well, healing from a hip replacement.  He is entertaining thoughts of getting underground or doing something at River Rock in 2022. 


Membership Proposals:   Larry Manning, NSS 37229, has applied for BRG membership.  Larry’s sponsor is Doug Feller.  Trish Geiger seconded Doug’s motion: Larry’s membership is tabled until the next meeting.


Old Business:

·         No progress on Al Stewart’s caving books auctioned off to the BRG community.  Al has been ill, is slowly getting better. 

·         New Chin straps – have they been tried out?   Seem OK.

·         Grotto Nominations:  when brought up, the membership decided to go on and begin nominations one month early.

·         All the current members may serve one more year of their term if they so desire. 

·         After a short discussion on the duties of the V.C. office,  nominations were opened:

Chair: Marian McConnell

Vice Chair: Nick Schmalenberger

Secretary: Mary Sue Socky

Treasurer: David Socky


Nominations remain open until the November 19 BRG meeting.   You must be a BRG member and an NSS member to hold grotto office.    Please consider running for BRG office; the current officers are tired. 

New Business

·         Fall MAR/VAR @ Grand Caverns has been cancelled.   It will happen next year – May 20-22, 2022, at Grand Caverns.

·         Should BRG re-book the meeting room in Jersey Lily’s for an October 15 grotto meeting?    Yes. <Done>

·         Does BRG want to send out a Landowner Christmas card this year?   YES.  Photo was selected.  Marian McConnell will work on design and check into printing discount. 

·         Does BRG want to attempt to do a grotto Christmas Party this year?  YES

o   BRG Christmas Party will be held at Dan & Marian McConnell’s property, Catawba Murder Hole, on Sunday, December 12, from 10a – 5p.  It will be like last year – outside, potluck, and please admire the cave.  Contact Marian McConnell  please RSVP, also for info and directions.

·         Karen Kastning brought up how hard it is for survivors to write a worthy obituary and suggests that each caver write up a “pre-obit”, that can be stored elsewhere for retrieval when you die.  This is being done by Texas Cavers. 



·         Virginia Cave Board  awarded Meredith Weberg an Appreciation Plaque at their 8/28/meeting.  Congratulations, Meredith!

·         Pandemic Caving – let’s be healthy going underground.  Rules have been posted in the DUMP.

·         Winter closure for bat caves in WV begins Sept. 1, 2021.  Please respect all cave closures.

·         Winter cave closure for bat caves in VA begins Oct. 15.

·         In Memory – Roswell Jones “Jonesy” NSS  died Aug 6, 2021.

·         In Memory – Larry Southern (TX caver) this past summer.

·         In Memory – Gloria Briggs, Sligo member & former part owner in Cricket Maze Cave Association passed away 9/17/2021.

·         A cave full of ancient Indigenous paintings sold for more than $2 million. The Osage Nation says it belongs to them.

·         The Martinsburg, WVNCRC-OCR October 1-3 is full and there is now a waiting list, so if Blacksburg VA is within your traveling range, please consider signing up or switching from one class to the other.    

·         NCRC Orientation to Cave Rescue (OCR) will be held at the Blacksburg Rescue Squad in Blacksburg, VA Oct. 22-24, 2021.

<>  The cost is only $60.  The only pre-requisites are the proper equipment as listed here:

<>    There is of course a significant chance the course may be postponed depending on what happens with the Delta variant.  However, as of now we anticipate the class is a go.  (You must be vaccinated and show proof).  Thanks, Wil Orndorff.


·         Cancelled due to Covid-19: OTR, Sewanee Mt. Cave Fest, PSC Fall Party, Fall MAR/VAR, Grand Caverns Cleanup, WVCC Banquet; Check the status of any event before you travel .


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

Oct 7-10- TAG Fall Cave-In.  Hosted by Dogwood City Grotto.

Oct 15 NEW! BRG meeting, 6:30p, Jersey Lily’s-Salem.

Oct 15-17 – Fall VAR, Grand Caverns, VA   cancelled

Oct 16—BRIDGE DAY, Fayetteville, WV.  See rappelers & BASE jumpers from the New River Gorge Bridge!    

Oct. 22-24 - NCRC Orientation to Cave Rescue (OCR), Blacksburg, WV.

Nov 13 – WVCC Banquet, Lewisburg, WV.  cancelled

Nov 19 - BRG meeting, 6:30p.  Jersey Lily’s- Salem. Elections.  Final meeting of the year. 

Dec  4 – NEW!  Virginia Cave Board meeting, @ James Madison University in Harrisonburg VA.

Dec 12 – NEW! BRG Outside Christmas Party, 10a – 5p, at Dan & Marian McConnell’s place in Catawba VA.   

2022:  May 20-22, 2022 – NEW! Spring VAR/MAR, @ Grand Caverns, Grottoes, VA, (rescheduled)

Jul 16- 21, 2022 – NEW!  NCRC National Weeklong, which will be held in Covington, VA. 


Meeting adjourned 7:47p.


Program:  Warm River Cave, VA  multimedia show by Dave Socky, narrated by Phil Lucas.      The show was over by 8:04p. 


Cold Beer!


Minutes Submitted by

Mary Sue Socky, Secretary