Mark led us off with a discussion about the benefits of being an NSS member. In attendance were: Mark (61461), Martin (63470), Zeke (n/a), Kim (new!), Diana (29990), Mike B. (54738), Natalie (n/a), Lisa (54739), Russell (n/a), Mike M. (65541), Ken (27597), Emily (26175), Eric (68186), and Carlin (60593).
- Dues. Pay them if you haven’t.
- Holiday party. Dec. 9 at 6:30 pm at Mark’s house. Kim has emailed out a link for food/beverage sign-up. If you have an aversion to sign-up sheets, just bring a dessert! There will be awards and (family-friendly) entertainment of some sort.
- Ken brought along a sign that can be re-purposed by the grotto for placement outside the museum on meeting nights. It’s not blinking neon or anything, but it is big and collapsible. Natalie volunteered to try to paint something appropriate on it.
- Carlin and Diana went to Watoga State Park and met up with some Quebeckers who were well-equipped with food. On Saturday they went to Friar’s Hole via the FH entrance. A camera was lost and, after some extra crawling, found again. On Sunday they went to Norman Cave. The area was extremely dry.
- Mike and Lisa went to the BCCS annual meeting. While there they delved into the historic section of Butler Cave, did the sketchy God Is My Copilot climb, and made it to the foot of the old historic entrance. That area of the cave is not accessible from mid-October to April because of bats.
- Michael M. went to TAG Fall Cave In. He took some younger cavers to a few suitable caves (Bible Springs, Mountain Cove Farm #1) on Thursday, thought twice about Neversink and chose a different pit. Friday he visited War Eagle Cave with a different group. Saturday he got past the Sometime Sump in Ulla Cave despite some light rain. Ulla has a lot going for it, including some of the most decorated passage he’s ever seen and rooms big enough for a helicopter to fly through them. He left TAG before the bonfire and, more importantly, the incoming tropical storm.
- Ken wanted to try out his new camera equipment, so he and Diana, Emily, Ava M., and Pete went to Smokehole Cave. It was a fun trip with a lot of photography, and his new lens did really well. Read his trip report and see photos here.
Upcoming Trips and Activities
- Nov. 4 – Perkins Cave survey
- Nov. 11 – Hancock Cave bat count
- Nov. 18 – SnoCone survey trip
- Dec. 9 – Holiday party
- Feb ? – Frick’s Cave in TAG region
- Apr. 21 – Grand Caverns restoration
- Apr. 27-29 – Spring VAR at Hungry Mother State Park
Ken talked about several caves in the Virginias that are owned and managed by groups of cavers.
Who are we (and what do we like about the holiday season)?
Martin (getting time off work), Zeke (leaving town), Diana (eating crazy food), Emily (wearing costumes), Carlin (making piñatas), Kim (matching socks), Michael (costuming the cats), Eric (making food green), Natalie (having dinner with friends), Ken (hibernating), Mark (taking a week off), and Peter (single-ply)
- The museum has moved next year’s Darwin Day event from February to November, 2018.
- Please email Martin if you pay your dues via PayPal so that he can add you to the list of members.
- If you have feedback on this year’s annual grotto trip, send it to a grotto officer.
- Officers had another meeting immediately before the September monthly meeting. See website or check your email for those meeting minutes.
- Grotto trip: Ken, Mark, Peter, Kim, and about 15 other people went to Porter’s Cave. They spent a good bit of time trying to find the cave entrance despite having both accurate directions and GPS coordinates. Ken was glad that he had spent so much time studying the convoluted cave map in the fieldhouse, because it helped him determine that they wanted to get down to the lower level early on. There were lots of pretty formations, even some hanging from the pendants. They also encountered low crawls, chimney climbs, keyhole passage, and some mazey areas.
- Grotto trip: Meanwhile, Zeke, Diana, Emily, Eric, Lilea, and the Clawson family went to Blowing Cave. Due to the pinchiness of the pinch, three of the Clawsons backed out early in the trip. As Zeke put it, the map was from 1939 and didn’t show anything that we saw. Mud was the most noteworthy thing about this cave. We almost lost the remaining Clawson when he stepped and sank into a puddle of muck and it took three of us to free him. There was no decoration and no cave life.
- Grotto trip: Kim, Matthew, and others went to Island Ford Cave. Kim reported that this short cave was not just easy to find, it was impossible to miss due to the large entrance. They took the dry passage on the way in, stopped when they got to the wet crawls, and took the stream passage on the way out. They saw a few salamanders and surprisingly little graffiti for such an accessible cave, and there were some formations in the smaller side passages.
- On his trip through South Dakota, Mark saw a Townsend’s big-eared bat in Jewel Cave, lots of boxwork in Wind Cave, and lots of algae in the commercial Black Hills Caverns.
- Mark and Rob attended CaveFest in Tennessee. Mark’s first trip was to Cedar Ridge Crystal Cave. With no natural entrance, it’s very well decorated and hot. His second trip was to bounce a 180-foot pit at Cagle Chasm. His third trip was to Gourdneck Cave which had a pretty waterfall and some nice formations. It also had a large PVC pipe running through it that carries water to animals but gets in the way of cavers.
Upcoming Cave Trips and Activities
- Nov. 11 – WVCC annual banquet
- Nov. 18 – cave survey trip to maybe Perkins or SnoCone (Carlin)
- Nov. ? – Hancock Cave bat count (Ken)
- Dec. 9 – Holiday party at 6:30pm at Mark’s (Dancing bears?)
- Feb. – Frick’s Cave (TAG)
- Apr. 27-29 – Spring VAR at Hungry Mother State Park
Martin presented a program about headlamp batteries.
In attendance: Mark, Ken, Carlin, Martin, Emily
- We agreed unanimously to make a $100 donation to RASS.
- RASS requested a trip report that could help them promote use of their property. Ken suggested that Peter might be willing to share one, and Mark agreed to ask him.
- Officer feedback on the annual grotto trip:
- Someone on the trip should be prepared to collect and keep track of money from attendees.
- The campground and facilities were great and were close to the caves.
- According to Ken and Mark, Porters Cave was worth going back to at some time.
- The organizers should choose caves that someone there has been to before.
- Martin has a list of the grotto members who have paid dues this year. He’ll send it out to the other officers.
- Grotto gear:
- Martin has reimbursed Mark $40 for the four headlamp cases purchased for the loaner headlamps.
- We decided that Mark should purchase two 4-packs of the Petzl headlamp clips for helmet-mounting at $5 a pack, for use on the grotto loaner helmets that don’t have built-in clips.
- Mark suggested and we agreed that the grotto should buy a new Princeton Tec Vizz from him for $36 to replace the broken loaner headlamp.
- Officers finally chose the wording for the engraving on the NSS headquarters brick that the grotto agreed to buy for $100 last year. Mark will submit the form and payment.
- The grotto holiday party will be held December 9 starting at 6:30 pm at Mark’s house in Durham. Potluck. Send party theme or award ideas to Mark.
The break-the-ice question had something to do with toilet paper and eclipses. Answers ranged from “2 ply” to “100 feet” to “5 hours.”
In attendance: (Other) Mark, Emily, Lauren, (Other) Mike, Ken, Peter, Diana, Eric, (Other) Steve, Kim, Tim, and (eventually) Andy
- Ken reminded us to pay dues if we haven’t this year. Dues are $7.50.
- Peter made an announcement about BugFest, an event happening at the museum on Sept. 16. Peter is looking for volunteers for his orthoptera table. No experience needed. Take two shifts and get a free BugFest shirt.
- (Absent) Mark has purchased cases for the grotto’s loaner headlamps and should have them in time for the grotto trip.
- Peter has some old incandescent headlamps that he’s ready to part with, in case the grotto wants such things. Ken recommends we bring it up with the other officers (and possibly with gearkeeper Mike).
Oddly, among those present, there have been no trips to report since the last meeting!
Upcoming Trips and Activities
- Aug. 25-27 – Annual grotto trip
- Sept. 1-4 – Old Timers Reunion (WV)
- Sept. 1-5 – CaveFest (TN)
- Sept. 21-23 – Virginia Regional Meeting (Pendleton Co., WV)
- Sept. 30? – possible photo trip (Ken)
- Oct. 5-8 – TAG Fall Cave-in (Lookout Mtn, GA)
- Oct. 14 – Nov. 5 – NCRC Cave Rescue Operations & Mgmt seminar (Blacksburg, VA) ncrc.info
- ??? – Perkins Cave survey trip (Carlin, Ken)
- Nov. ? – Hancock Cave bat count (Ken)
- Also, Other Mark is willing to arrange cave trips to eastern Tennessee.
[Meeting interrupted by museum fire alarm and evacuation]
How to Pick Among Your Best Cave Shots
by Ken Walsh and Diana Gietl
After the program, we spent approximately 15 minutes discussing the meal plans, among other details, for the upcoming grotto trip.
In attendance: Mark, Jared, Charles, Jake, Zeke, Marlis, Mike M., Lenny, Eric, Andy, Peter, Emily, Mike B., Kim, and Ken
Our favorite leaves, respectively: [On second thought, this has been redacted due to gratuitous word play.]
- Mark is going to order some cases for our grotto loaner headlamps.
- September 16 is BugFest. Peter will be running an exhibit and looking for volunteers to help show off the wonderful world of orthoptera. This is a great way for us to give back to the museum which provides our meeting space each month.
- Mike B. and Lisa introduced Mike’s dad and sister to Butler Cave for their first wild caving experience. They went in the SOFA (Stubborn Old Farts Access) entrance and got as far as the 90-Ugh Crawl before turning back.
- Mike M. visited five caves in Walker County, Georgia: Petty John’s Cave (with two young kids), Anderson Spring Cave (which had a good salamander population), Natural Waterfall Pit and Cave (where they saw some bats and lots of fossils), and a horizontal trip through Ellison’s Cave. There was lots of water in all the caves. They encountered more bats in Ellison’s than they have in recent years.
- Emily joined Mike B., Connor, and Nicole for a weekend at the Butler Cave homestead. Mike led them and a couple from Pennsylvania on a four-hour trip in Butler Cave. It was a relaxed trip but they covered a lot of ground, especially considering there were two non-cavers along. After exiting and resupplying, Emily, Mike, and Connor went back in for another four hours. After exiting again and opening but not drinking a beer, Mike couldn’t resist the opportunity to go drop the vertical entrance of Barberry to help with a dye trace. The next day, Keith W. led Emily, Mike, Connor, and Hal through the woods to three small caves: Black Root (pristine blockage), Bone (pile of leaves and, yep, bones), and Birthday (so many bugs).
Upcoming Trips and Events
- Aug. 22: monthly meeting
- Aug. 25-27: Annual Fun Grotto Trip
- We can park on the upper field where we’ll be camping.
- Trips will be tailored for novice to intermediate cavers.
- Visit our FAQ page for a list of recommended gear.
- Caves on the agenda are Porters, Blowing, and Island Ford.
- Sept. 1-4: Old Timers Reunion (Dailey, WV)
- Sept. 1-5: Cave Fest (Sewanee, TN)
- Oct. 5-8: TAG Fall Cave-in (Lookout Mountain, GA)
As our scheduled program presenter was absent, Ken showed some old photos of Butler Cave while Mike B. narrated. Then we adjourned to the Oak & Dagger.
The break-the-ice question this week: Red or green?
- Team Green: Matthew L., Robert, Eric, Andy, Kim, Carlin
- Team Red: Emily, Jim
- Both: Mark, Dana, Mike
- Colorblind: Mike B.
- Grotto Trip: There will be hot running water for showers! An online poll will be sent out soon. [Update: The poll has now been sent out.]
- Dues have been reduced to $7.50 for individuals who want to join this year.
- Carlin has updated the website somehow and has added it to be indexed by Bing and Google.
- Eric and his five-year-old joined Ken, Tanya, and Emily for a trip to Stone’s Cave No. 1 so that Ken could check out the last leads before making the map. While Ken went ahead, the rest of the group (joined by a local friendly dog) went as far as the hot air balloon formation. On the way out, Eric’s daughter slipped and took an unintended puddle bath. After acquiring some dry gear, the group went to Speedwell Cave, an easily accessible cave with a few rooms and some crawls that a five-year-old doesn’t blink an eye at. Eric kept a wary eye on the dodgy-looking cows in leather jackets across the road. Read Ken’s trip report.
- For her first proper cave trip, Dana joined a group that Mark led through New River Cave. They did lots of crawling and got to see some pretty formations. They made it back to the waterfall and still got out in time to drive home at a reasonable hour.
- Mike and Lisa had a project weekend at Butler Cave. There’s a very newly discovered cave on some neighboring property. The owner told the trackhoe where to dig and voila they hit pay dirt (air): Maiden Hair Cave. Lisa dug away in the tip of the 80-foot cave while Mike hauled spoils out of the entrance culvert.
- Carlin went to Perkins Cave and surveyed. Read his trip report.
- Jim went to Worley’s Cave in Tennessee with a scout group. They had a commercial guide and the kids enjoyed it. They saw at least ten cars parked outside the popular cave.
Upcoming Trips and Events
- July 23-29: International Congress of Speleology (Australia)
- Aug 25-27: Annual Grotto Fun Trip (VA)
- Sept 1-4: Old Timers Reunion (WV)
Grotto members Rob, Mark, and Carlin showed caving-related and other photos from various far-off lands.
In attendance: Ken, Emily, Peter, Zeke, Eric, Mike, Mark (via Skype), Andy, and Kim
Business and News
- We’ll travel to Bath County, Virginia, for the annual grotto trip and stay at the RASS field house. It has flush toilets, showers, picnic tables, and no alcohol restrictions. Saturday we’ll cave somewhere, and then Sunday we’ll cave somewhere else. Porters and Blowing Cave are two possibilities.
- The nice owner of Mystic Cave in Pendleton County, WV, died and the family might like to rent the home to cavers as a field house.
- Monongahela National Forest is considering reopening caves to scientific pursuits.
- The Triangle Troglodytes are in the current issue of Walter magazine.
- The museum has asked for feedback to help justify events like Darwin Day and BugFest.
- Interested in cave surveying? Lowmoor Cave has an ongoing survey.
Girl Scout trip to New River Cave
Emily, Ken, Lisa, and Diana took six Girl Scouts and two Scout parents to New River Cave. The group originally planned to visit Rehoboth Church Cave, but the weather had other ideas. The Scouts had a great time despite the onslaught of trains, rain, and frigid temperatures the previous night. A few are eager to go on another trip. The parents, though they have a new appreciation for cave exploration, less so.
- Mark and six others went to Paxton’s. They were having so much fun avoiding some water and a few difficult climbs that the trip lasted a couple hours longer than anticipated. They came across some salamanders and a turtle who got washed in. One of the landowner’s dogs peed on Rob’s pack.
Cave Art – presented by Emily Graham
In attendance: Pete, Ken, Eric, Emily, Lauren, Mike I., Jim, Mike B., Lisa, Zeke, Robert, and Mark.
[I missed the question, but the answers were, respectively:] chocolate, cookies, soap, Graham crackers, cheese, chocolate syrup, Nerdz, cheese, Nerdz, marshmallow creme, ditto, and blue food coloring.
- Cave suggestions for the annual grotto trip? Crossroads, maybe? Suggestions?
- Dues. Pay them if you haven’t. You may do so online via PayPal.
- Wanna help get people on rope for Over The Edge? You get to rappel off the Wells Fargo building. There’s a training session on September 29, and the rappel date is September 30. Contact Mark if you’re interested in volunteering.
- Lisa and Mike went up for another BCCS project dig. After a super tight squeeze, Lisa has decided that all such future endeavors will be done in her slightly plasticized cave suit, rather than the one that catches on everything. It looks like it goes but it needs some serious work. Join them for a Butler dig. There is beer and an outdoor shower.
- Rob went to Pig Hole Cave which has a rather pretty entrance pit. He knows the cave well enough now to lead a trip there. Also, he witnessed a self-rescue.
- Jim described his trip to Grand Caverns for the Easter restoration weekend. He hauled gravel around and Ken gave him a tour. He also went to next-door Fountain Cave where he crawled through a maze.
- After Grand Caverns and Fountain, Zeke, Ken, Eric, and Eric’s five-year-old visited Madison Cave. They saw George Washington’s John Hancock. Zeke noted how very blue the water was beneath the calcite rafts and remarked on how hard it was to find the cave, hiking “thousands of feet up the side of the mountain, through a jungle, in the dark.”
- Pete visited Wakulla Springs in Florida, where a mastodon was found. Ten years ago, Wakulla Springs was established as the longest underwater cave system in the US.
- Mark, Ken, Dave, and Carlin continued the SnoCone survey. Brian, Steph, and Carlin surveyed the stream passage. Ken, Dave, and Mark entered a huge room with a 30-foot waterfall and formations that resemble hanging tobacco leaves. They generated one lead, to a ledge above the waterfall, but reaching it will require scaling poles. The next day, they found Dutton’s Cave and Radon Cave.
Culinary Experiments in Limestone Hydrology – Ken Walsh
The question posed this month gave us a chance to show off how well-traveled our group is. Among the nearly 20 attendees, we have visited 335 U.S. states, 87 countries, and 48 continents.
After going over the basic mechanics, safety, tools, and ethics of setting bolts in caves, Carlin led us outside the museum for a bolting demonstration. Several people drilled into the concrete blocks that he’d lugged along, while others convinced the local constabulary that we were on the up-and-up.
After the program we spent several minutes being herded and photographed by someone from Walter Magazine for a piece that might come out in May.
- We have now acquired a campsite for the grotto’s annual trip on August 26. Cave to be determined.
- If there’s enough interest, we will likely continue the social outings between monthly meetings, with the next one taking place in a couple weeks.
- Yearly dues are $15 per individual, or $22 per family. Pay one of the officers or pay online using PayPal.
- April’s meeting program will help you decipher those charts that come with your headlamp instructions.
- Mike went to the BCCS pancakes weekend. Inclement weather discouraged surface digging, so they opted to go into Helictite Cave to work on the Supersweet Dig. It’s not really all that sweet any more, but it maintains the speleo-ingenuity that’s characteristic of projects in the area. They moved the equivalent of about 80 five-gallon bucketfuls of spoils. There is still air flow, but no breakthrough.
- Carlin dealt out some guilt for being the only TriTrog to go to Perkins Cave for the recent survey weekend. No one expressed remorse after hearing about the 800-Foot Crawl he had to navigate just to get to the area they’d be surveying. He claimed that it opened up into walking passage in every direction, with plenty of surveying left to be done.
- Apr. 1 – SnoCone survey (Dave)
- Apr. 15 – Grand Caverns Easter Restoration (Ken)
- Apr. 28-30 – Spring VAR
- May 6-7 – Scout trip to Rehoboth Church Cave (Emily)
- May ?? – beginner trip (Mark)
- June 18-23 – NSS Convention in NM
- Aug. 26-27 – TriTrogs annual fun trip
Chair: Mark Daughtridge
Vice Chair: Ken Walsh
Webmaster: Carlin Kartchner
Secretary: Emily Graham
Treasurer: Martin Groenewegen
Ken hosted our first Officers Meeting of the year and provided, among other things, wine and chocolate. So, keep that in mind, those of you who might consider running in 2018!