Monthly Meeting Minutes –  Jersey Lily’s Salem, VA


April 15, 2022


Marian McConnell – Chair                                 Dave Socky - Treasurer                       Mary Sue Socky – Secretary

Lauren Appel – Vice Chair                                  Larry Manning                                      Nick Schmalenberger

Jeff Huffman                                                         Susan Burr                                            Karen Kastning    

Lynn Ott                                                                 Kevin Johnson                                      Carrie Doupnik    

*Kelly Perkins                                       (* denotes guest)


Meeting called to order 6:37p  by Chair Marian McConnell.  Everyone was welcomed, Introductions were made.


Trip reports:


3/19/2022: McClung Cave, WV. Participants included David Socky and Bob Alderson. Bob did the bolt climb/traverse in the breakdown room at the end of Musser's Mess. We surveyed 235 feet (200 included) but it ended in a breakdown collapse. The passage was nice walking trunk 7 to 10 feet high by 20 to 30 feet wide. Too bad it ended. Nice 8-hour trip.                


3/23: McClung Cave, WV. Participants included David Socky and Carl Amundson. Carl Amundson and I did a great 12-hour mid-week trip into McClung Cave. We surveyed 1050 feet in the Seven Fingers area which included about 328 feet of new (but not virgin) cave. In the new passage, we were only stopped by a tight, but 3- foot diggable squeeze which opened back up into going passage.


3/27: McClung Cave, WV. Participants included David Socky and Bill Koerschner. Finished off the fourth finger of Seven Fingers. We dug through the lead we left last trip and surveyed a bunch more new stuff. I estimate we got around 400 feet of new cave on a nice 13-hour trip. Our total survey for the day was 807 feet.


4/1: McClung Cave, WV. Participants included David Socky and Joe Zokaites. No joke, on Friday, April 1, we finished the survey of finger number 5 in the Seven Fingers area of McClung Cave, except for 3 high leads (nails/bolts) and one ‘small person’ lead. We surveyed a total of 918 feet, of which about 240 was new footage. It was a good 12.5-hour trip.


4/6: McClung Cave, WV. Participants included David Socky, Joe Zokaites, and Bill Koerschner. Surveyed the 7th Finger in the Seven Fingers area (skipped the narrow 6th Finger). Mostly big walking passage except for the very end, which was a low, wet, and muddy crawl off the right side of the main passage. We did one shot down a mucky belly crawl where at the end, Joe couldn't fit. Bill went in to check it out and was able to get through. He got into a segment of 20 foot wide by 50-foot-long trunk passage which was bounded by breakdown but reported that could possibly get through with judicial use of a hammer. Bill says he saw maybe 80 to 100 feet of passage that we still need to survey. It was not virgin, but definitely is not on the old map. Both Joe and Bill got totally slimed, after which they didn't feel enthused about surveying the 6th Finger. We headed out about 7pm and exited to a warm evening with no rain at 9pm. We surveyed 1040 feet on a good 10.5-hour trip.


4/10: Red Skull Cave, VA. Participants included David Socky, Susan Burr, Doug Feller, and Jeff Huffman. Owners: Tasha Lacks, Jessie Lacks, Xander Lacks (son), and friend Nelson Oliver. This is the small cave we checked out for the Lacks. They had contacted Susan about a cave they wanted checked. Turned out to be 350 feet long, with two parallel passages and a buried ammo box. Lots of coon poop. Very dry. Everything ended eventually. No digs or small squeezes.


4/13: Catfish Pit, VA. Participants included Socky, Brian Williams, and Joe Zokaites. The owner had contacted cavers via Facebook. Steph Petri, Brian, and I were supposed to go out in February, but heavy rains cancelled the trip. This time we made it. It was reported to be a six second pit! We were expected at most a 100-foot pit. Turned out to be a very nice 135-foot-deep virgin pit up near the top of the ridge near Lower Copper Creek. It was a bit of a steep climb to get to it. We put a 160-foot rope in first, but it seemed like it wasn't on the bottom. Jaydon actually offered to run down to Brian’s truck and bring back the 300-foot rope. We accepted the offer. That one was long enough. Brian went first, then I went down, then Joe. The 160-foot rope was just barely touching the bottom. Nice fluted walls and a free fall rappel. The floor was covered in logs, branches, and leaves with the northern end dipping down a few feet to where the water drained through the dirt. The diameter as about 30 feet by 15 feet. There were a couple of little leads at the bottom, but they were way too tight little drain cracks. There was a high lead near the top against the back wall, but it would take some funky bolting to get to it and the likelihood of it doing anything is low.    


4/13: Catfish Caverns, VA. Participants included David Socky, Brian Williams, and Joe Zokaites. Jaydon told us about another caver along the ridge, so we checked it out. Beautiful large entrance at the base of a limestone headwall near the top of the ridge. The entrance was large and dropped steeply down into the hillside. Steep dirt slopes covered with leaves with one spot being a drop off of about 5 feet. We put a rope down for a handline, which made the climb back up a lot easier. The slope closed down to a smaller opening and eventually developed into a narrow tall canyon that wound around north, south, and then finally east were it got too tight at a 55-foot narrow dome. A rock hammer could potentially be used to know off fins and protrusion to make it possible to progress a little more into the narrow canyon. But it probably is too tight to continue. The canyon is old and phreatic with very old formations and flowstone. It was pretty dry except for dome where it was a bit drippy. Plus a bunch of brown banded crickets were living back there. The canyon was about 50 to 60 feet high, but it was narrow. We had to climb up off the floor where we could traverse. We surveyed a total of 183 feet.


4/14: Lowmoor Cave, VA. Participants included Socky and Jessica Bowser. Jessica Bowser does a Podcast on Virginia outdoors activities. She went on a trip to Butler with Mark Hodge back in May 2021. I took her to Lowmoor, and we spent about 5 hours touring the cave. She took lots of photos and videos with her phone. She did well and enjoyed the trip very much.


3/19:  James Cave VA (BRG trip).  Participants included Doug Feller, Susan Burr, Lauren Appel, Jeff Huffman, Nick Schmalenberger, Kelly Perkins.  Nice trip.  Went in main entrance, exited via the roadside entrance – Thru trip! 


Date??:  Cricket Maze Cave, WV.  Participants included Lynn Ott, Gene Harrison, Bob Gulden, Dusty, Odin and Orion Gulden, Kim Fleischman, and one other.  This was basically a “surface trip” to clean up and repair the property.  Of course the gate was checked and entered!  Cricket Maze Cave is doing fine.


4/3:  Nick Schmalenberger, Jason Delafield, Alex Faunce, Jason Davidoff visited Pig Hole, VA.  They did the Eliminator.  Below ground vertical work.  Jason (which one?) was bolt climbing, trying to ascend a tight chimney.  They entered and exited via the “dug” backdoor culvert entrance. 


4/9:  Larry Manning and NCRC cavers have been doing many scouting trips for the upcoming NCRC Weeklong in July 2022.

Lowmoor Quarry and Lowmoor Cave, VA were checked out.  WVACS cavers took them to a bunch of WV caves, including McClung (historic and Lightner entrances) and Higginbotham Caves 1-3. 


4/10: Larry Manning scouted out Crossroads Cave, VA and the cliffs at Clarks Cave, VA for NCRC.  The Weeklong NCRC classes have been moved to Dabney Lancaster Community College in Clifton Forge, VA.   


4/15: Karen Kastning and a few NRVG folk did yet another cleanup at Hickman Cemetery Road/James Cave, VA.  They collected 21 bags of garbage.  Karen found a backpack with personal info and 8 credit cards, etc. – the police were notified because this appeared to be stolen property.  Never a dull moment when you are cleaning up an ‘dumping area’.  Good job, NRVG!!


4/12: Marian McConnell and Cole Frantz invited friends in a hiking group (Tom, Beth, Frank, and Melissa) to see Catawba Murder Hole, VA and the Miracle Ridge property. 




Tomorrow Sat. 4/16/2022:  BRG trip to Cave Spring Cave, Lexington, VA.   Sign up with Susan Burr.


Next Month’s Trip –  To be announced.   Since there will not be a May BRG meeting, look for cave trip info in the CARBIDE DUMP and via Susan Burr.    There will be many interesting cave trips at Spring VAR, too. 




4/15/2022 BRG Treasury Report – Dave Socky, Treasurer

Fund Amounts

$       15.96            Cave Bucks

$       1.00               Conservation Fund

$   104.12              Equipment Fund

$ 4199.20              General Fund

     $ 4320.28         Total Funds

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



Newsletter – Another successful DUMP.  We mail 10-11 DUMPS each month.  Postage will be going up to .60 in June 2022. 

Membership – BRG has 56 members and 5 subscribers.  There is voting on a membership application tonight, AND a new membership application. 

ROCKS –  Surveyed Cow Cave, VA, and Red Skull Cave, VA. Both are in Botetourt Co., VA.

S&T -  Dan’s shoulder replacement went well.  He has many more months of post-op and rehab. 


Membership Proposals:    Pat Banks, one of Al Stewart’s former students and member of VWCCCC (1960’s).  Pat could not attend this BRG meeting. Mary Sue Socky is Pat’s sponsor.  VOTE – 11 in favor;  Pat Banks is BRG’s newest member. 


Kelly Perkins submitted her BRG application.  Susan Burr is Kelly’s sponsor; seconded by Lauren Appel.  Kelly’s application is tabled until the June 15 BRG meeting.  (Because there is no May BRG meeting. Go to MAR/VAR!)


Old Business:

BRG Call-down rescue list updates.  Our current call down list has 3 contacts.   Is anyone interested?  No response. 


Show Cave Conservation cleanups – Endless Caverns, VA cleanup is April 22-23, 2022. You must pre-register. A future cleanup at Dixie Caverns may happen in the summer/fall of 2022.  Dixie Caverns is closed on Tuesdays. 


MedWAR Challenge course (N. Schmalenberger) Did not happen.  He and Mystik Miller could not find a third team member.


NO May BRG Meeting (how many times will this be mentioned?)


New Business

(Karen Kastning) A Celebration of the Life of John W. Fox , caver, father, husband, brother, friend, “dancing bear”, lover of bats, music and people will be held on May 22, 2022, at 2pm at Unity Christian Church , 400 Tyler Avenue, Radford, VA.(  via  I-81 X104 )  Anyone wishing to visit with the family is welcome to the family home after the 2p service.  Address 204 Fifth Street, Radford, VA.

On Monday, May 23, 2022 John will be interred at the Southwest Virginia Veterans Cemetery at 11am.  There will be a short service with military honors. The address is 5550 Bagging Plant Road, Dublin, Virginia.  All are welcome to attend.


Tyler Huth, post grad. Student in MO, requests water samples in caves across the USA.  Drips, streams, lakes are OK.  He needs one to two samples per cave; vials will be provided.  (See email).  Dave Socky is interested, will contact Tyler directly. 


(Susan Burr) suggested that BRG and Greenbrier Grotto combine forces, purchase “group tickets” and go on the Beckley Coal Mine tour.  (15+ people are required for a group discount.  Susan motioned that BRG agree and participate in this outing, sometime in Summer 2022.  Second by Marian McConnell, Nick Schmalenberger, MarySue Socky.  This may be done in place of a grotto/cave weekend.)


American Cave Conservation Association (ACCA) is contacting all members to help a grassroots effort to stop a highway being built in Indiana.  Please write to the names, addresses of IN state officials and tell them the road is not needed and to support the NO BUILD OPTION.  (See email)




·         Congratulations to Bob Gulden on receiving the Karst Water Institute Award!

·         Karst Workshop Karst Workshop, Fairlawn, VA.  Contact   (see flyer)

·         Spring Restoration will be held @ ENDLESS CAVERNS Apr. 22-24, 2022.  You must pre-register so there will be a head count for Saturday dinner.

·         Hopefully CaveSim will be coming to the VA/MD area this fall 2022!

·         Last chance to register for the Karst Field Studies 2022 program, Bowling Green, KY. 

·         Al Stewart updates.

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

·         Closure for bat caves

o    West Virginia   Still Closed.  These caves may be open May 15 – Sept. 1

o       Virginia   Open.  These caves may be open Apr. 15 – Oct 15.   

o    Reminder:  there are summer cave closures for bat maternity colonies, too.




Apr 15: BRG meeting, 6:30p, Jersey Lily’s-Salem, VA.

April 22-24 –Spring Restoration @ Endless Caverns, VA.  Contact Meredith Weberg  to register.  Free camping. 

Apr 30: Silers Cave Open House. Contact Jim McConkey at  for more info

May 3-4 – Karst Workshop, Fairlawn, VA.  Contact   (see flyer) NEW

May 13-15 – SEKCI 2022, in SE KY.  Hosted by Pine Mountain Grotto (see card). NEW

May 20 – NO BRG MEETING!  Go to VAR!  

May 20-22, 2022 – Spring VAR/MAR, @ Grand Caverns -preregistration is OPEN! $33 pre-, $38 on-site. There will be pancakes and hot coffee on Sunday morning (a$ a fundrai$er).

May 22- John Fox Memorial Service, Radford, VA  2p.  NEW

June 3-5 – NCRC (OCR) at the Upper Tract Training Center in Upper Tract WV.  See newsletter. NEW

June 5-11 – Virginia Cave Week

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

June 17: BRG meeting, 6:30p, Jersey Lily’s-Salem, VA.

July 8-10:  WVACS Classic, at fieldstation in Renick, WV.  NEW

July 8-10: Karst-O-Rama, Great Saltpetre Cave Preserve, Mt. Vernon, KY

July 16-17:  18th Lutz Field Station Jamboree, hosted by PSC. More info soon.   NEW

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

Sept. 3 — West Virginia Speleological Survey meeting.  OTR site, 6:30. Contact Dasher  NEW

June 26-30, 2023 – – NSS Convention, Elkins, WV. NEW



Meeting ended 7:52pm

Cold Beer!


Program:  Larry Manning discussed Reviewing Your Caving First Aid Gear – Minimum safety gear you should have in your pack, and multiple uses of gear on hand to aid in a cave rescue.   Excellent talk!  Thanks, Larry! 


Minutes Submitted by

Mary Sue Socky, Secretary