Monthly Meeting Minutes –  Jersey Lily’s Salem, VA

November 19, 2021



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

Dave Socky - Treasurer                                  Kevin Johnson                                   *Carrie Doupnik                               

Susan Burr                                                           Larry Manning                                   Lynn Ott

Jeff Huffman                                                      Doug Feller                                         Carl Cornett      

Renee Rowland                                                Christopher Rowland                      Paul Thomas Rowland   

*Tracy Martino                                                                (* denotes guest)                                 


Meeting called to order 6:49p by Chair Marian McConnell.


Trip reports:

Summer 2021:  Renee Rowland reported that some of the Rowland family went on an exciting whitewater raft trip this past summer.


10/1-3: Larry Manning was an instructor for the recent NCRC Orientation to Cave Rescue class in Martinsburg, WV.  They used Silers Cave, WV for the rescue site.  Everyone did great!  Larry said they were a unique group to teach – rescue folk and cavers from all over attended the 2-day class.


10/3:  Larry Manning and some NCRC participants visited Crossroads Cave, VA.  Good 4-hour trip!


10/16: BRG trip to Paxton Cave, VA.  Very good trip!


10/26: McClungs Cave, WV.  Participants included David Socky and Joe Zokaites.  Surveyed the climbing pole lead that is on the right just before the start of the entrance canyon. The one that comes close to the Beetle Run Auxiliary passage (but it is 50 feet higher than the Beetle Run Auxiliary passage. We surveyed everything but the low stream crawl which goes for a few hundred feet. We also didn't finish the mud crawl at the end because I didn't fit in the last part of it. It will be a 'small person' survey. But we did survey 796 feet in 6.5 hours.


10/30: McClungs Cave, WV. Participants: David Socky, Bob Alderson, and Joe Zokaites. Surveyed the rest of the upper-level lead near the end of the First Breakdown. It was a short survey, but Bob did dig out the lead at the end. He got around 2 corners only to find it ended in breakdown fill. Another lead was too tight - a 1 x 1 foot tube of solid rock. Because Joe needed to get back sooner rather than later, we decided to exit. We did take the time to improve the footsteps through the entrance canyon, making the traverse a little safer. We exited at 6:30pm for an 8-hour trip and 272 feet of survey.


11/1: McClungs Cave, WV. Participants : David Socky, Mary Sue Socky, Bill Koerschner, and Kathryn Koerschner. This was the LCT survey, for Ladies Cave Trip. We surveyed Travertine Avenue, the first right hand side lead from the historic entrance. Bill sketched, I did cross sections, Mary Sue did point and back sights, while Kathryn did front sights. Good easy 5-hour trip in which we surveyed 691 feet.


11/6: Fountain Cave, VA. Participants: David Socky & Mary Sue Socky. Dave took measurements for doing the profile of the cave. Also surveyed the water passage on right near the back of the cave (lowest point in the cave). There was no water, but it was really muddy. Thick goopy claylike red mud that was a foot and a half deep. Mary Sue identified historical landmarks from old woodcuts while Dave sketched.


11/8: McClungs Cave, WV. Participants included David Socky, Bill Koerschner, and Bob Alderson. We completed the big loop at the beginning of the Seven Fingers Area, surveyed the JEB Stuart passage, which was actually really nice. Surveyed through the large breakdown room where our connection for the loop was. Did some tight crawls and picked up 50 feet of new cave.  It was a good 12-hour trip with 1268 feet of survey.


11/13: Maxwelton Cave, WV. Participants included David Socky, Joe Calderone, Eric Landgraf, Nick Socky, Chris Coates, and Nathan Kearney. This was a 44-hour Maxwelton Camp trip from Friday evening through Sunday afternoon. This trip included two bolt climbs, a 30-foot traverse, and 912 feet of survey. While Nick Socky, Chris Coates, and Nathan Kearney bolted up the forty-foot climb, Joe Calderone, Eric Landgraf, and Dave Socky surveyed the cave leading up to the bolt climbs. But first, Eric and Dave had to dig out the long access belly crawl so Dave could fit into all this new cave! He was finally able to squeeze through and the survey commenced. The survey stopped at the bottom of a 45-foot waterfall because the climbing team ran out of rope. We finished the day by surveying side leads in Sweetwater and the Confluence Room. We were back at camp by 11:30pm. Maxwelton Cave is now 27.04 miles long, and the Great Savannah Cave System is 49.07 miles!


11/14: Mary Sue Socky, Kevin Johnson and Carrie Doupnik gave a Caving Presentation for the Roanoke VA Master Naturalists. 



·         Tomorrow Sat. 11/20/2021:  BRG trip to Porter Cave, VA.

·         12/14/2021:  Kevin and Carrie Johnson and Mary Sue Socky have volunteered to help with “Caroling in the Caverns” at Grand Caverns.  They will be carpooling. Leave Roanoke at 2p, return around 11p.  Interested?  Contact Mary Sue. 


Next Month’s Trip – Come to the BRG Christmas Party Sunday, December 12, at Dano & Marian’s house.  10a – 5p.  Potluck, BYOB. Experienced cavers allowed in the Daylight Cave of Catawba Murder Hole.  RSVP Marian McConnell at 



11/19/2021 BRG Treasury Report – Dave Socky, Treasurer

Fund Amounts 

Cave Bucks          $   241.00

Conservation     $        0.00

Equipment          $   104.12

General               $ 3,281.61

Total                           $3,626.73 


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



·         Newsletter – printing costs are going up.  We have fifteen printed copies mailed each month.  Postage has gone up to .58 per stamp. 

·         Membership – We welcomed a new member last month.  Tonight, we have a new membership application.  Pay Your Dues! 

·         ROCKS –  nothing

·         Safety & Techniques –  Dan’s hip replacement has healed.  Now he needs a shoulder replacement; spring 2022.  Hopefully, he can instruct a rope session at River Rock Climbing Wall during the winter.    


Membership Proposals:   MSSocky welcomed Larry Manning, NSS 37229, as the newest BRG member.  Larry paid his 2022 dues.   

Carrie Doupnik, NSS 71075, has applied for BRG membership.  Carrie’s sponsor is Mary Sue Socky, seconded by David Socky.  Carrie’s membership was immediately tabled until the next BRG meeting.    


Old Business:

·         BRG Christmas/landowner cards – have arrived, will be mailed during the Thanksgiving weekend using the new issue USPS “Otter Stamps”.

·         BRG has reserved the back meeting room at Jersey Lily’s Salem for the 3rd Friday of each month in 2022. 

·         Al Stewart’s caving books auction - ended a few days ago, was a Great Success!  80% of the books were sold to the BRG community, netting close to $600.00.  The remnant was brought to the BRG meetings and sold as “make me an offer!”  Al is currently in SpringTree rehab and is doing better.

·         Caroling in the Caverns has requested volunteers for Dec. 4, 11, 18.  Kevin Johnson, Carrie Doupnik, and Mary Sue Socky are volunteering for Dec. 18.  Leave Roanoke 2p, go to Grand Caverns, light pretty little fires inside cave, sing, herd humans, extinguish fires, return to Roanoke by 11p.  Anyone else interested in volunteering? 

·         Donations to MAKC and WVCC were voted on last month.  Have they been sent?  Will be soon!

·         Donation to JSS in memory of John Fox was voted on last month.  Has it been sent?  Will be soon!

·         Wi-Fi Hotspots and future meetings?  Nick Schmalenberger is caving in Mexico with Rolland Moore.  No report.

·         Grotto Nominations:  Nominations were opened Sept. 17, 2021:

Chair: Marian McConnell

Vice Chair: Lauren Appel

Secretary: Mary Sue Socky

Treasurer: David Socky

The nominations are now closed.  Resistance was futile. No one put up a fight.  The current slate of officers was voted in for one more term for 2022.  Congratulations? 


New Business

·         VAR Fall Zoom meeting 10/17/2021, 4p.  The meeting was attended by BRG members Dave Socky, Mary Sue Socky, Kevin Johnson, Carrie Doupnik, Meredith Weberg.  See attachment for highlights. 

NEW VAR Officers for 2022.

CHAIR – Meredith H. Weberg

Vice Chair – Janet Tinkham

Secretary – Kim Fleishmann

Treasurer – Carol Tiderman


·         Request from Larry Wheeler, Manager, The Caverns at Natural Bridge VA for BRG help in moss abatement.  Susan Burr is interested in helping Larry further.  Susan and Jeff Huffman will meet, talk with Larry. 

·         Requests from various groups continue to come in.  Some are rock climbers, someone looking for a cave guide, homeschool groups - most people are out of area/out of state – all are referred to a nearby show cave and the given the contact info of a grotto close to their location.  Local folks – invite to a BRG meeting! 

·         NSS Vertical Training Commission Charter – Lynn Ott translated as “this is how to train the trainers.”  This is at National (NSS Level).  Contact Hazel Barton for more information.



·         Al Stewart may make it to his 92nd birthday – please sign his card.

·         Renee Rowland wanted to say a personal Thank You for visiting with them at their Bedford Lake property. 

o    Renee also wanted to know if their bat house could be mounted on a pole with purple martin houses, or does she need to keep the bat house and bird houses separated? 

·         Keith & Lisa Goggin are planning their post-Christmas party (and bonfire).  BRG is invited; date and details TBA.

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

·         Winter closure for bat caves in West Virginia begins Sept. 1.

·         Winter cave closure for bat caves in Virginia begins Oct. 15.    Please respect all cave closures.


(Announcements cont.)

·         The upper entrance to Boar Hole, WV, is very closed.  Use the radio/culvert entrance on Carroll Bassett’s property instead!

·         (Lynn Ott) Cricket Maze Cave will have an Open House on April 30, 2022, noon-6p. Caver Gloria Briggs will be honored at this event.  Nearby Silers Cave (managed by Jim McConkey) will be open to experienced cavers for one or two days during the April 30-May 1 weekend. More info TBA.  Cricket Maze Cave and Silers Cave are near Martinsburg, WV.    



·         Nov 26-28 NEW!! Rock and Mineral Show, Salem Civic Center. $5.00 adult admission good for all 3 days.  Kids 14 & under free with accompanying adult.  OMG the fossils and jewelry!  Will also have geode cutting. 

·         Dec 4, 2021 - Virginia Cave Board meeting, @ James Madison University in Harrisonburg VA.

·         Dec 11 NEW! Salem Museum presents “The Other Side of the Mountain… Catawba Valley.”  There will be a display on Murder Hole. (Marian McConnell)

·         Dec 12 – BRG Winter Party, 10a – 5p,  potluck, Dan & Marian’s house in Catawba. 



·         Jan  21  BRG meeting

·         Feb 18  BRG meeting.

·         Mar 18 BRG meeting.

·         May 20-22, 2022 – Spring VAR/MAR, @ Grand Caverns (rescheduled)

·         June 13-17, 2022 – NSS Convention, Rapid City SD.

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



Meeting adjourned 7:46p, followed by

 Program:  “Emergence Outtakes” and “Exploring Clarksville Cave.”  Good shows.    


It was all over at 8:20p         

Cold Beer!


Minutes Submitted by

Mary Sue Socky, Secretary