By Louis Le, on the occasion of his first wild cave trip, and first adventure with pun and gear masters Mark and Andy.

The road was quiet and the morning already warm and sunny as Andy, Mark, Susan, and I walked silently to Hancock Cave.

We cautiously snuck by a house supplied with potentially lethal chihuahuas, holding tight to the emergency dog treats generously supplied by Tanya in case things got ruff. Never hurts to be prepared, gotta account for the paw-sibilities.

After a successful stealth mission and a careful trek in the woods, making sure not to take the wrong root, we arrived at our destination: Hancock’s entrance! A last minute bathroom break, a pre-caving pic, and we were ready to make our descent!

Mark fashioned webbing into a hand-line to help with the descent as it had rained the day before. It was a somewhat steep and slick drop from the entrance as we entered one by one. The line definitely helped as it was quite muddy on the way down, but after a bit of careful stepping and controlled sliding, I made it all the way down.

After reaching the bottom, a gorgeous cave salamander greeted Susan and me. It was orange with black spots and quite min-newt!

We journeyed up a small climb before we reached another tricky descent. Mark came to the rescue again with his rope skills as he used a carabiner, two slings, and a few alpine butterflies to create an impromptu ladder. (Both Mark and Andy had forgotten to bring the etrier from the car.) Knot rocket science, but I taut it was quite resourceful!

The second descent led to the “Grand”-tham (Grantham) room. As the name implied, the room was rather massive, big enough to house maybe one or two half-inflated hot-air balloons. (Or a dozen half-funny puns.) I honestly did not expect the room to be so large given how small the entrance was. Further exploration led us to the Octopus Room with eight different possible paths- luckily there was a nicely placed cairn next to route we came from as getting lost would not be tenta-cool.

Continuing on, we passed the Broken (Breakdown) Staircase, which looked like massive pieces of piled up blocks, each roughly the size of a flattened Smart Car. I found them to be quite uplifting.

We came to a point in the cave with a steep climb. Mark climbed up with no issue, but the rest of us found the mud to be quite slick, so after a few attempts, the rest of us decided to go a different route and crawled in a dried-up stream. I was super thankful for my knee-pads as the stream was littered with jagged rocks. After what felt like a few minutes of careful maneuvering to avoid unnecessary deep tissue massages, I was relieved to get to the other side. The overall crawl was only about 30’… but felt like a nice achievement as my first cave crawl!

We eventually made it to the comic book hole! Only problem was that it was around ten feet off the ground! Now it was Andy’s time to shine! Using his height and his trusty left shoulder, I stepped up and wormed my way top half into the hole arms first. From there, I momentarily got stuck, took a much-needed thirty second break, and wriggled my way through the hole.

The Author halfway through the Comic Book Hole, trying to persuade his legs to join him . . .
Photo by Mark Daughtridge

I was glad that there was another way around as coming back out the hole would have been incredibly difficult! Susan then gave it try while Andy, who was also doing great photography work, snapped an incredible shot of her legs sticking out of the hole.

Calling it a fun day of caving, we decided to head back out, retracing our steps. Seeing the Broken Staircase again elevated my mood. Identifying the cairn again in the Octopus Room kept me calm-ari. Finally we were bottom of the entrance and could see the light at the end of the cave!
Susan went first and made the climb look so easy. I went afterwards thinking it would not be too bad as I gripped the sling. I took a few steps, then like losing Jenga tower, I slowly teetered over and splat into the mud. After a few more humbling slips and slides I finally made my way up and out of the entrance.

It was my first time caving and I’d heard about the mud…but man was there a groundbreaking amount of mud! If the camera didn’t add ten pounds to our post-caving picture, the mud definitely did! Our time in the cave was not too long, we entered around 10 AM and left at 4 PM, but I had a blast! Thank you to Mark and Andy for their guidance and their unending puns. They were puntastic!

Photo by Andy Chang

by Kim Parks

When someone mentions they will be passing their Saturday by crawling through miles of narrow, underground passageways accompanied by quasi-strangers, the response is clear: me too! Answer as such and you find yourself in a minivan packed with fellow cavers, pouring over maps detailing a large network of below-grade paths with varying ceiling heights. Mark had graciously agreed to lead Alice, Jim, Ester, Andy, and me through Paxton’s cave, teaching a subset of us the basics of caving along the way. At this point I still (rather naively) believed both the map, that claimed that the lowest ceiling height would be a spacious 3 feet, and Mark, who asserted the only crawl would be a 10-foot stretch at the entrance. And here I was hoping to at least get a little muddy.

After catching some sleep in a hotel adorned with a fist-sized hole in the wall and filling up the energy reserves with some solid meals, we were suiting up at Paxton’s ready to venture behind the waterfall and into the cave. Once Paxton’s dog, Boomer, fully ‘christened’ Rob’s pack, and Alice finished the last touches on her impromptu belt made from duct tape, we were ready to go. Watching people disappear under a rock in front of you is not only exhilarating, but you know you are surrounded by like-minded adventurers when their first instinct is to follow suit. True to Mark’s promise, the first low section to reach the larger passage was indeed a fun crawl, and I was instantly hooked on caving.

Entering a few larger rooms, we found the first of many soda straws and helictites. You can’t help but be awed by the sight, especially considering the time needed for such beautiful formations to occur. Each room had many offshoots, and I was glad to be led someone who knew the way. Mark diligently bestowed the caver tenets: don’t trust the arrows or the elephant tracks, watch your head, and touch as little as possible, except for 3 points of contact. How reassuring to know these are no spelunkers, but instead responsible cavers. It was not long before we reached the incredible expanse of the Anthrodite Room, our throne room with Esther and Jim settled in as our king and queen.

After lunch, the adventuring continued. Our first surprise was some traces of cave wildlife. Wild, indeed, despite being inanimate. Some ambitious souls had trucked a few surprising items. Now, the Neanderthals of 50,000 years ago would have expressed their artistic side with cave drawings. Today’s humanity? Barbies, and a well-endowed Ken in compromising positions, watched by a power ranger and some dinosaurs. (….I’ll let you decide whether we have reached the apex of evolution yet.) Not long after we happened upon the elephant rock, (or horse, or ‘rock machine’, depending on who you asked), and we branched out from there to do some exploring, complete with some narrow squeezes. The most notable being one we had encountered earlier, dubbed the superman rock, given that in order to traverse this narrow crack, your body had to contort into flying-superman cave dive, at an awkward angle. This was followed later by a large tombstone rock, also a narrow squeeze.

Mark, with an eye on the time, suggested we travel back through the maze in order to trek in the general direction of the entrance. With three experienced cavers as part of the group, we were fortunate to have three compasses to consult to find north. Only… Mark pointed one way, Rob another, and Andy another. Hmm. It was about this time I thought it prudent to ask if Mark had ever gotten lost in this cave, and his answer was not reassuring (Hint: it wasn’t no). Interestingly, the more times we happened upon the same exact tombstone as before, the more we slowly transitioned to looking for survey tape, arrows, and elephant tracks.

It was about this time that ‘scouting trips’ became the norm, and during one time Mark ventured ahead to see what rooms he could uncover, we all extinguished our headlamps and laid back on the cool rock to let darkness envelope us. Having already covered the deeper icebreaker cave conversations of cow puns, death, God, and jokes about a small medium at large, we could sit back and enjoy the all-encompassing darkness. Mark reappeared with a route in mind, and if we followed enough of these said ways out, eventually one of them might not circle us back to a rock we had seen an hour prior. We started attempting some more challenging climbs, and some even tighter crawls (remember the 3-foot ceiling promise?), and this led us to the promising sign of leaves scattered at the bottom of the break down rooms.

It was with true disappointment that I finally heard the waterfall at the entrance, knowing that meant I wouldn’t get to spend the night in the throne room. Donned in mud from helmet to caving boots, our group emerged as a new round of cavers that had thoroughly enjoyed all the underworld had to offer. Was Paxton’s an excellent introduction to caving and the start to a new realm of adventure? To answer in Troglodyte fashion (per Andy’s suggestion): Good cave!

Much like Hollywood’s Oscars, February is the time to
officially announce the awards for the previous year, at least for those who
missed the Bodacious Red Carpet (worn as a Santa hat) affair known as the
Annual Triangle Troglodytes Holiday Party.  
       At last night’s
meeting we finally got to give the final 2 awards in person to the esteemed
victim, I mean honoree.     
     And so with
further ado, and for anyone who missed them or wants to relive them, the 2012
TriTrog Grotto Awards ! !   :  
1)  Carlin, Jacob,
Ava, and Ken were standing outside a gas station at midnight, almost to the
Fall VAR.  The convenience store lights
went out, but we were still a member short. 
The front door was locked so we weren’t sure about our driver who was
still in the bathroom.  A minute or two
later the remaining TriTrog emerged, found an attendant, and escaped the
building.  Because she remembered to
carry her headlamp into the bathroom, we award Diana Gietl- for being prepared
for any bathroom situation, the
 Most Well Equipped
Caver Award
The Triangle Troglodytes, 
 A Distinguished and
Official Grotto of the
National Speleological Society 
Do Hereby Present 
This Honorable and Facetious  
Actual Award to
Diana Gietl
For carrying a backup light into even the darkest of
Convenience Store Bathrooms, above and beyond the call of Duty.   Or whatever she was doing in there. 
Presented this day, December 1, 2012, just before the Mayan
World Ended.
___________L. Gaga______________         
 2) The next award goes to a sharp pair of individuals whose
exploits go to Infiniti and beyond. 2 Guys who really held it together, with
duct tape and super glue, and kept our first aid supplies from going stale, we
honor Martin Groenewegen for slicing his finger while preparing dinner and Rob
Harris for smashing his digit in his own car door.  To the pair, we give the [hold up right fists]
Two Thumbs Off award.  Close the doors
gently!  For skewering their hands we
  Two Thumbs Off Award
The Triangle Troglodytes,
A Distinguished and Official Grotto of the 
National Speleological Society
Do Hereby Present
This Honorable and Facetious 
Actual Award to 
Martin Groenewegen and Rob Harris 
for attacking their own hands with ordinary everyday objects
in the heretofore safe zones known as “camp.”  
Presented this day, December 1, 2012, just before the Mayan
World Ended. 
___________L. Jack Horner________________  
 3)  Our local
Brewme-aster, I mean webmaster, was implicated in our punniest award.  He smuggled beer bottles out of Germany and
brought them expertly re-filled to western Virginia for us to imbibe.  To Mike Broome we raise our glasses in
tribute to his Pint of No Return.  We
hope that the next draught on tap is the map of Copenhaver’s. 
Pint of No Return Award 
Mike “Brew-man” Broome
 for expertly and
bravely recycling beer bottles smuggled from East Germany and with improved
contents to share among TriTrogs. 
4) This next person is never Aiken to get out of the
caves.  He’ll just drum and sing with a
sub-lime voice while he’s waiting for Ken to sketch or Carlin to take
photos.  Therefore, we honor Jacob
Jackson with the American Cave Idol award.
American Cave Idol Award
Jacob Jackson 
for his sub-lime (stone) crooning.  He knows how to idle away the slow times.
5)  Our Youth Group
Leader award goes to an individual who would teach young people many phrases
they’ve never heard before while traveling underground.  The award goes to Martin Groenewegen for his
colorful language in tight spots.
Youth Group Leadership Award
Martin Groenewegen 
for his colorful, multi hued, spectrally enhanced language
in the face of scary youth.   “Damn,
we’re in a tight
6)  Is a cave
conservation trip about the laborers hauling buckets of gravel a half mile into
the cave?  Apparently not.  At Grand Caverns, the reporters and
photographers flock to Bithika Khargharia. 
So for Bithika, we award the  
 Seeking the
Lime(stone) Light Award
Bithika Khargharia 
for seeking the Lime(stone) Light and wowing the reporters
at Grand Caverns Cave Conservation Weekend.  
It was a rocking good time and buckets of fun.  
Presented this day, December 1, 2012, just before the Mayan
World Ended.


7)  You may have
thought that our little oompah loompah deserves a tribute to salamander
obsession.  However, Ava Pope (in trailer
park fashion) was responsible for organizing a unique event this past
year.  We’d like to thank her for
creating an opportunity for the TriTrogs to meet the world famous Roger
Brucker…’s poodles…and his wife.  For
this, we’re awarding Ava with the Dog and Pony Show award.
Dog and Pony Show
 Ava Pope
for arranging for the TriTrogs to meet Roger Brucker’s
poodles.  And tour their fabulous home on
wheels, packed with enough spare room to make Cold Sink crawls seem
Spacious.  Where will the dogs ride?
8)  Only one TriTrog
took enough risks at Convention to earn the next award.  In fact, his entire tent blew away and is
still missing so we’re honoring Rob Harris with the High Stakes Award. 
High Stakes Award 

Rob Harris
for his tent which was (and still is for all we know) Flying
High at the 2012 NSS Convention.  There’s
no place like home (left) for your ruby red cave boots. 
Presented this day, December 1, 2012, just before the Mayan
World Ended.
___________Guy Weyer______Dorothy Gale__________ 


9) Our next award is for the Animal Lover.  You may think we picked him for such a great
presentation on cave biology, but that’s not it.  You may think it’s because he talked the
TriTrogs into working at BugFest, but that’s not it.  You may think it’s because he’ll sit for an
hour observing cave flies, but that’s not it. 
We’re giving Pete Hertl the Animal Lover award because he invites
TriTrogs over to his place every night at dusk to feed his pets…the
Animal Lover Award
Peter Hertl
for bringing TriTrogs home to feed his pet mosquitoes.  All 18,379,932,437,741 of them. 
Presented this day, December 1, 2012, just before the Mayan
World Ended.
Signed     _____K. T_.Didd________________
10)  After a caving
trip, other party members look at me and say “I’ve got to clean my
face.” I know what that means. Another grotto member seems to elicit the
same comments. The face is marked by a stripe across the forehead creating a
sort of unibrow. Hence the moniker Oompah Loompah has been shared with her to
denote the menacing look she takes on. From the TriTrogs, we’d like to award
German-speaking Ava ‘the Cava’ Pope with
The Burrowed Frau Award 

Ava ‘the Cava’ Pope
for her muddy unibrow. 
Gotta hand it to her- a baby wipe that is.


11) We do joke about the single-minded determination of one
grotto member and the fact that he drags other people into his obsession. Drag
is the appropriate word, but I think that everyone here recognizes that it’s an
accomplishment to lead up a major cave survey effort.  In a cave where most of the survey stations
are less than two feet from the floor, we really are impressed that Carlin
Kartchner has convinced so many people to survey more than 4300 feet of passage
in Cold Sink Cave in less than a year. 
For his accomplishment, we offer the : 
Motivational Speaker Award
Carlin Kartchner
for leading the 2011-2012 major cave survey into Cold Sink
Cave.  It’s a dirty job, but everybody’s
got to do it.   How about this weekend? 
Presented this day, December 1, 2012, just before the Mayan
World Ended.
________Sir Faye Statience
12) And Finally, a true honor, which sets the joking
        One morning at
Fall VAR Tanya McLaughlin wandered bleary-eyed up to the TriTrog camp,
complaining of someone yelling drunkenly outside her tent all night
long.  Four weeks later Carlin rounded up
Cold Sink victims, and the shouter joined the surveyors.  Tanya recognized the voice but still
graciously offered up her home as a place to sleep on a cold night.  They got along well when all were sober.  This is just one recent example of the
generosity that Tanya has shown in the caving community.
       Tanya joined
the TriTrogs back in 1990. She was the first person to say “I’ll run for office
if you pay my dues” and get a free membership paid for by Nadi Findikli.  For years she served as a TriTrog officer. 
     When she was
nearing retirement, the VSS was looking for a county director for Smyth County
in Virginia.  The files contained just a
few cave maps back then, but Tanya has added more than two dozen maps to the
files.  When Tanya moved to Marion in
2002, she actively began seeking out new landowners and became known as the
“Cave Lady of Smyth County.” 
She has also played a key role in planning many of our conservation
trips.  The TriTrogs have never been
short of new cave to explore since Tanya started her role as the county
director for the VSS, and she has always offered us a place to stay.
      For these and so
many other things, the TriTrog officers bestowed upon Tanya McLaughlin a very
unique and completely serious award. 
Tanya was granted Lifetime membership for her lifetime achievement in
making the TriTrogs a successful grotto.
Lifetime Achievement Award 
The Triangle Troglodytes,
A Distinguished and Official Grotto of the  
National Speleological Society 
Do Hereby Award 
Tanya McLaughlin
For  Initiative,
Hospitality, Generosity, Inquisitiveness, Leadership and Immeasurable
Contributions to the Grotto and to Caving in Smyth County, Virginia .
This award by unanimous approval of the officers here
signed, confers Lifetime Membership in the Grotto, paid in full in good
Presented this day, December 1, 2012
_____Carlin Kartchner (Chair), Ken Walsh (Vice Chair), Mark
Little (Treasurer), Mike Broome (Webmaster), Mark Daughtridge (Secretary)

The Month the Mayans Never Saw Coming

Attendance:  One Dozen Cavers:  Jacob, Ava, Mike Broome, Lisa L,  Nicholas H, Tim Vaughn, Matthew Weiss, Mark D, Peter H, Mark L,  Ben , Carlin

Matthew told his human squirrel story of tearing tendon from bone in his shoulder, which sadly will have him out of caving for a while and wearing a cumbersome brace/sling.   But he still operates a mean slide one armed slide show.  
Old Business:
Award presented to Mike B since he missed the holiday party, and we reported on the presentation of the Lifetime Achievement award we made to Tanya at her house on the last Cold Sink trip.  
Payment of dues to Mark L by many.
Canopy looks nice in the photos, to be decided on soon

Holiday party was fun


New Business:
Election of Officers for 2013!
Minutes of discussion and much campaigning costing way less than $2B resulted in the following slate being duly elected:

Officers for 2013 Triangle Troglodytes are  (drum roll . . . )
  • Chair:  Carlin Kartchner
  • Vice Chair:  Mark Daughtridge
  • Secretary:  Ava Pope
  • Treasurer: Mark Little
  • Web Master: Mike Broome

 (Or was that Ava Secretary elected as Pope?)

Trip Reports:
Carlin and his brother visited an AZ cave, well hidden under brush, over Christmas break.  Showed a few pictures 
Rowland’s vertical pictures from November shown by Carlin
Matthew showed cool pictures from Worley’s TN – Beautiful pictures w cool camera gear.  Including rim stone /Flowstone area.  Discussed photography techniques
Also pictures from Smokehole, cool pics with cool lighting
Demoed new light he built over Christmas  2.5 hours very bright
Carlin described the recent Cold Sink survey trip- 5100 ft total, still a shade under 1 mile (5280 ft)! 4 teams on last trip with 14 cavers total, one more trip to cleanup , one crawl dig that is unlikely to go.  Sadly would need major digging or smaller feet to stretch it to a full mile.  
Ava talked about two small caves at bottom of Grand Canyon, an exact Christmas tree formation which later was found listed on the map as the Christmas Tree cave.  The trip was at New Years but it’s one stone tree that’s up year round.
Little cave at Schoolhouse Rocks, goes 2 directions, Dave Duguid and “the Virginia Lisa” did quick survey, lying in 4 inches of water. Found monorail worm saw a mouse. 
Carlin back to Memorial Day Cave 3 day camp trip, need vertical surveyors.  It’s a vertical jungle gym.  Decorated well, protected some formations w plastic
Did some survey in breakdown, there are 70 to 89 ft ceiling in areas under the camp room.  More leads and pits remain.  Getting to camp takes 3 hours or so.  It’s a 5 hr drive in WV
Mike B showed a few short videos from the Mexico trip.  Mike plans to do a full and more formal program on the trip at a later meeting.  Very cool rappelling video including dropping a hitchhiking bit of vegetation and racing it to the bottom.
Lisa, Peter and Mike went with VBATS group 14 total.  Rob H was there on a separate trip w VPI
Most drove, Mike and Lisa flew.  50 hour drive!
5 days of caving,rental car antenna got stolen.  1st car had no engine so traded it.
Rain 3 of 4 days, very slick in cave. 200′ to 1150′ pits. 4400 ft total over 4 vertical days
Golindrinas, near Aquismon town
All limestone
One rig was on biting ants nest! One pit is 7 acres wide at bottom!
Due to elections and the many excellent trip reports since our last (non party) meeting in November we did not have a formal Program this meeting.   
We also forgot to talk about upcoming trips, so please see the calendar on the website for that info.
Adjourned at 9:06 to a local watering and tacoing establishment. 

Nov 27, 2012
Attendees :  Ken, Carlin, Ava, Leslie S, Nick, Jacob, Peter, Scott Rucci, Rob Harris (in the form of millions of pixels), Steve and Grant M., and Mark D your mostly harmless grotto Secretary
  12 Triangle cavers total plus Dr. Lee Stocks for our virtual program.

Leslie presented a card to Carlin in thanks for his talk to the Explorers of Venture Post 505

Still full from abundant Thanksgiving feasts we inverted our normal order and began with the progam.   
 Dr Lee Stocks spoke on urbanization impacts on caves.  
Since it works so well for Rob we had Dr. Stocks join us via Video Conference from his home in Mansfield, PA, though on the big screen we found that audio was best when we didn’t press for actual video of the good doctor.  Soon our entire meeting will exist solely within the Matrix. 

1993 photo to start of Cow Dung Pit before airport expanded and changed creek route. Effects of sediment, pollution , etc,
Greenbrier county map showing creeks etc resurgence at Davis spring 15 mi south
Worked with WVACS to study urban and residential development
Water quality and quantity studied on surface and sub. Bio diversity changed underground. Evidence of runoff, leaky septic systems, agriculture
Greenbrier river- most algae affected in WV.
20 miles of cave Cove Creek to Scott entrance. Put in culvert to stop entrance repeatedly reclosing.
Site survey, bio assessment etc
Sink holes full of trash etc. 
Technical entrance at cove creek and 60 ft waterfall in cave so did not include inaccessible spots but went downstream from them.
Pictures of land slides, erosion, new sink holes and swamps formed
4 categories of streams for supporting life. Cover, sediment, etc play into score. Established baseline and study will continue for several more years
Some seasonal variation too.
Shows signs of becoming less habitable and EPA standards show it should be scrutinized.
Study chemistry of water nitrates, oxygen, some exceeding nitrates standards, 2x appropriate level. Less nitrates in cave, but still too high. Also concerns for drinking.  turbidities.
Evidenced leaky septic and agriculture E. coli unacceptable for swimming or drinking
Quantify levels of disturbance for karst from various activities such as house groundbreaking
No coal mining in the county.
Impervious surfaces increased runoff. Karst disturbance Index.
Conservation efforts impact
Score of .62 moderately disturbed
Geospatial Aerial and sattelitte photos
Disturbed highly erodible soils. Urban fill too.  Sediment.
100 MHz antenna to find structural fractures etc. does not penetrate as far as cave that is known just below the sink. ~60 ft penetration
Worse water and less of it. Alkaline, nitrates etc worse
Universal soil loss study desired.
Started study in 2011. Runs as long as it is interesting and funded. 


Old BusinessNo update on canopy, lights are in hand
Pete told of web site w good canopy. Northern hydraulic
New BusinessHoliday party this weekend (More than a dozen confirmed)
Join the NSS!!
PO box $80 a year, only one piece of mail this year
Trip reportsWorleys. Surveyed 300 ft to end map with .5 miles of cave- muddy, wet, low and tight with a new short waterfall climb lead that did not go.  
Rowland’s fun vertical, great contrast to the tight, low crawls of Worley’s
Hancock 2,4, 8 bats in surveys each of last 3 years. Had found 50 dead when WNS first hit
Not known if fungus dormant, bats resistance or other, but counts do seem to be increasing slowly.

Photo trip. Rob, Jacob, Ken, Hilda, Mathew- Smokehole Cave at bat ranch
Good pictures, tried video at end of slip and slide section
Upcoming TripsCold sink Jan 12
Dave thinking of just doing cold sink and not organizing an end of year trip

Meeting Ended at 8:58
 Group went to a local watering hole to eat as if Thanksgiving had never even happened. 

Attendees– Ken, Peter, Mike B, Lisa L, Matthew W, Jacob, Carlin, Mark L, David P,
Mark D, Chuck, Duke
13 total (Please remind me of additions/corrections)
Many were late to this meeting which started shortly before 8pm.   Apparently everyone attending the event at the PNC Arena drove 2 separate cars, thus leading at least 4 driverless cars to cause accidents and delaying many of us innocent (?) cavers who had to come from west of Raleigh. 
Old business
Lights were purchased for the grotto loaner gear
We have 4 helmets and 3 princeton tec quad headlamps for members to borrow
$85-86 Cost for the new lights
Canopy news- to replace the one eaten by the Derecho storm at Convention-
some too small and some way too large
sierra trading post is a place to check
Pete’s canopy also destroyed at convention
replacing parts shouldn’t part of the equation
(Mark arrived 8:02 and thus the quality of the minutes should improve dramatically from this point forward.  😉 Thanks to Ken for getting them started.) 

No update on Craig H who was in auto accident.  Many of us met him at Grand Caverns some months back and last month we all signed a get-well card for him.
Trip reports
– vertical caving is the draw. Lost Canyon Cave just issued new permits, has two 100 ft drops. Flow stone pit, dug opening to 220 ft pit, another cave with multiple drops.
Cold Sink cave–  Ken, Carlin, Jacob, Stephanie, and others, got to survey out past “L” stations. M survey this trip. Knew part of the cave and had to find old markers to navigate parts of it. Traverse, swing parts, some of cave nice and lots of duck unders. U shaped tubes. Opened to 8 ft ceilings. Stephanie’s first survey – she learned quickly. M survey starts some walking passage, and we may be done with belly crawl surveying there! Leads in many directions! 10 to 20 ft heights, found pan flute formation, starts to look like parts of Hancock. An hour and 15 min walk to get out. Surveyed 650 ft on Kens team. Crawl way to heaven a pain.
Jacob and Carlin surveyed a tight wet drain lead. Stream not flowing this time so a little drier. Traversed a pit 18 ft deep, and another 15 ft pit. Checked new pit, 12 ft that opens for 10 ft w small drain. All leads now cleaned up to M survey section. They then focused on sketches. 3 loops closed. About 14 hours of caving. Soup at Tanya’s for midnight dinner. Carlin confident we will reach 1 mile.
Sunday up late ate at country club for breakfast at 10 am
Failed to find 2 caves they were looking for. Hiked all over hill of Cold Sink looking for another entrance. Water coming from hill, in the cave finding nuts far back in latest survey, also near road.
David went w Ava to Tawney’s cave, met Mike and Monica Grauer who had not caved before. Visited Tawney’s and one other cave, not many bats at ranch now due to WNS
Formation room near start, very nice, white, active, stream crossing, moon room large echoing room. Showed map at mtg.
One junction hard to find in breakdown, but found easier way eventually. Saltpeter mined there once. Hour and half to do whole cave
Other entrance closed by land owner went back through to start entrance
Mike and Lisa went to Whitesides , John Plyler went too, older woman new to rappel did well, was fascinated.
Peter and others went to New River Gorge Bridge Day, climbed rope, etc. Rob H has video on YouTube
Upcoming Trips
11/3 cave photography
11/17 Worleys / Hancock
11 /18 Rowland creek vertical
11/22-25 TAG trip??
12/1 Holiday Party
12/9 Linville caverns conservation (CANCELLED)
12/28-30 survey/ridge walk Smyth county
Break 9:09
Program Vertical Caving- Peter Hertl gave the program which included a handout with vertical tips and reminders.  
There exists NSS training for Vertical skills.
Grotto once had very active and even well known vertical caving group and it seems to be resurgent

Focus on going with experienced rigger. After that, what do participants need to know? Know your limitations and comfort zone and notice limits of others. Good health, nervous?, experience? , fatigued, sober, good judgement?, don’t get into a rescue situation!
First aid training always good to have.
Situational awareness. Understand environment. Helmet even more important on rope. Be aware of what and who is above, rocks, mud, gear can fall
First step hardest and most likely to have problems where rope is against edge.
Look at rigging. Ask questions.
Have knot in bottom of rope!
Have safety in place before approaching edge.
Have up gear on and ready to go. May need at any time.
Practice changeovers! (Practice Above Ground!)
Have bottom belay for all but first descender.
Pad or tube on rope at edge point may be in your way to some extent, have to pass it- best to have a 3rd ascender attached.
Can have 2nd system at top to rely on while passing edge.  Speed is not an issue, safety is main concern.

Meeting Ended at 10:09 with the Museum Staff ready for us to be done!  A good meeting despite the late start.   A few of us scarfed down a late dinner and good brew at Armadillo Grill afterwards.   

Sept 25, 2012

Attendance:  7 Cavers:
Carlin, Ken, Martin, Ava, Mark D, Jacob, and new caver David Perry!  David shared an extended introduction saying he grew up thinking about caves, drawing caves, etc but only recently visited his first wild cave in Indiana and was hooked! His relative Clay Perry was a famous early caver who popularized the term “spelunking.”  The cave David visited in Indiana was Dog Hill cave, some flowstone etc
He will be going w Ava to Tawney’s soon and they want to find Doans cave too and ridge walk.  Everyone is glad there is no hunting on Sunday in VA.

Sadly David plans to move to CA next year

Old Business – Grotto loaner lights to be replaced soon.  Ava to work with Mike B. 
New business Agreed to purchase a new canopy to replace the one destroyed by the Derecho storm at Convention.   Not needed until Spring so time to shop sales etc.   Marting suggested Harbor Freight for cheap, quality ok. Other suggestions, REI garage sale, on line sources, etc. Ava and ken will shop specs and prices and report back on price range. 10 x 10′ Or so, desire one much lighter and easy to transport than old one.  

Howard offers his place for holiday party!  Details TBD

Ken discussed an article in VA Region Record from this summer on bat trends in VA. 4 yrs of WNS in VA. not all species affected same. Most common species are affected most so total bat counts way down. East small foot rare to Start with so hard to gauge impact.

No grey bat deaths observed . Endangered big nose seems immune. Some species get it but don’t die

Bat counts dropped around 80 % since 2009
Fungus found on only one Indiana bat in VA. Some bats found in previously uninhabited caves. Passed article around for folks to see further details and statistics.
The situation for Bats described by the article sounds grim overall. They are not finding banded bats again, so hard to track them.  Not returning to same place

There was also an article in today’s N and O about artificial cave in TN being used to study bats and try to provide a cleanable roost for them.  It is close to natural caves and we discussed our doubts that this approach will work with the bats freely visiting natural caves nearby.  

One other item of new business- Carlin and Ken went to VAR meeting recently- one member of VAR was hit by his own tow truck w serious injuries. Get well card passed around for all attendees to sign and send to Craig. Last Monday was the accident.  

Trip Reports
Rob Harris went to Old Timer’s Reunion.  He also went caving but nothing special, Ava reports. 

VAR Jacob, Tonya, Carlin, Ken, Ava, got there about midnight and led trip signups were full. Did Bells Valley caves wet and dry along dirt road (which passes for freeway in that area) Dry was 300 ft long lots of critter scat.  Cave was fun and  quick. All but Tonya went to wet cave. Critters, rim stone, enough water to swim. Chest deep water. Looked for another cave didn’t find. Found snapping turtle. Carlin shared some pictures and video .

That night at VAR good band and program, slack line, on way home Sunday visited Devils Marble Yard rock play ground above ground builder field.   No one knows how this unique field of small, sharp boulders was formed. 

Upcoming trips9/28 Group of TriTrogs going to Common Ground theatre in Durham to see play of Harold and Maude. Call for reservations, 919 698 3870 at theatre. Play runs for 2 weeks.

Oct 4 tag fall cave in. Pete and Carlin going Fri-SunTavelling Thurs and Sunday. 9 hr drive. vertical cave, plenty of horizontal caves too.

Oct 20 cold sink survey
Oct 20 Tawneys sport trip. Ava waiting list. 6 on for now, beginners, near Blacksburg at bat ranch. Walk from camp.  Want to keep the numbers low but if another leader goes could form 2 groups. 
Nov 17 Worleys VA survey.  Also Hancock bat count or lovers leap survey that weekend
Forearm pad may help in the remaining Worley’s tight survey
Nov 18 Rowland creek vertical spot trip Dave
Photo trip Diana and Matthew W. maybe wet Bells Valley Cave?

TAG (TN, AL, GA area) at Thanksgiving?
We studied the just published map of Rowand Creek including the drops and interesting features

Break at 8:52
Program Nova Science Now video on earthquakes in the midwest that centered on cave study and geology

Post Meeting gathering was at Boylan Bridge Brew Pub.   Everyone agreed it was an excellent place, which featured decent original craft beers and the best hamburger in the Solar system, if not the Universe. 

Next meeting October 23rd.  (4th of 5 Tuesdays)
November meeting will be Nov 27, right after Thanksgiving weekend.
December meeting will be the Holiday Party

8-28-12, 7:30 pm

Attendance 9 Troglodytes:
Diana G, Carlin K, Ken W, Mark D, Mike B, Ava P, Peter H, Matthew Weiss, Martin Groenwegen, Mike Grauer

Introductions included the Month of each persons birthday which was used later to divide up into teams for the program.   

Old business- Pay dues to Ken tonight. All the shirts from convention are now gone.

Library now has convention guide book including cd with maps. Diana has old NSS journals if anyone wants them.
New business Bugfest Sept 15volunteer w Peter!! At museum here.   Separate e-mail was sent.
Help w display, greeting visitors etc

Things to look for in photographs and how to pick the best photo to present or share
We did the program first so that Ken could process the results during trip reports.  
See handout from Ken for tips:
      Under/ over exposed, have something interesting in each 3rd of the photo, etc 
The program involved several stations which each had about 4 pictures of the same spot in some cave.   The teams of about 3 participants each ranked the photos for best to show.  Some seemed obvious but some were open to a fair amount of debate

Trip reportsMike B above ground at Whitesides did single rope technique practice, climbing and rappelling
In fog for part of it. 700 ft cliff in w. NC. Just above GA border. nice pics shown

Ava told about white limestone cliffs in France, sea caves 10 or 15 little caves only went in 100 ft or less. Few good pictures and her professor didn’t want to cave

Carlin and Ava reported on Copenhavers Cave.  Good fun pictures, cleanup, cave on farm w lots of metal, barb wire etc. cable ladder for waterfall, entrance is. Much nicer now, hauled buckets of trash up the waterfall.  2.5 pickup loads hauled to dump, time to explore cave after clean up done
     Visited Worleys Cave (VA) next day good pics of monorail worm, bristle tails, salamanders,
Cleaned up 4 leads and explored 2 other. Super man squeeze with one arm up and one down. Solid rock tube. Lots of passage after tight crawl needs survey!

Program part 2Discussed pictures we all agreed on and why
And more discussion on those w less consensus

Upcoming trips— see grotto calendar on the website
Labor day OTR (Old Timers Reunion)
Rob and Peter going? Worthwhile but far away.

Fall VAR (Virginia Area Regional) in Rock Ridge County Va, near Lexington VA.
 Sept 21 – at least 4 Tritrogs are going
Perkins cave tour on a separate trip that weekend in sw VA- 28 miles of cave

Oct 4 tag cave in regional 9 hr drive. Carlin going. In GA near AL- lots of vertical caving
Worleys survey some time in fall
Oct 13 or 20th cold sink ?
Photography trip?  interest expressed in doing another trip to phocus on fotography skills soon.  

Due to a somewhat shorter meeting with lighter attendance and the format of the program we did not take mid meeting break but afterwards several went to Armadillo Grill.

Mayan 22, 2012
General socializing 7:30- 42
Attendees: Carlin K, Ken W, Mark D, Martin G, Mark L, Mike B, Lisa L, Bryce S, Peter H, Steve S
Old Business– none
New Business
Grotto trip and convention 
Rob bringing mom to grotto trip
Matt Lubin hosting in Chapel Hill for June mtg.   Informal meeting only!. June 26
Grotto trip July 15. Camping at $19 per site w2 tents/8 ppl per site At least 19 going. Mike B will help with head count since Ken is out most of June. Group breakfast Saturday and dinner Saturday.  All food otherwise is on your own.
Get gear from Mike if you need to borrow grotto gear.
Trip Reports-
Spring VAR Peter went alone, ~300 ppl there, commercial livestock farm, on top of karst, went to Norman cave, @20 miles away, good leader, in at 10 am, 20 mile system w Bone cave. Booming waterfall, 20 ft falls, walk in water most way, calf to waist deep, small falls/rapids.   Did not get to Great White Way, went to caramel room with large flowstone formation
Group varied in fitness , WV room near entrance was nice- formations broken, some by breakdown, recent earthquake likely.  Out around 4 pm.  About 10 ppl on the trip
Mike and Lisa went to all you can eat pancakes and caving in March- digging, leads, looking for new cave, Owl cave, Teedle dum dig. Rube Goldberg 3 tiered haul system with track, zip line, raises 60 ft, moves dirt and rock rapidly, got 6 ft further but no breakthroughs, can see intersection beyond hole, but later trip still did not open up. Lots of air flowing. Good home brew beers!   Pancake weekend at Butler Cave Conservation Society (BCCS)  next weekend another work weekend (Mem day)
Martin went to dig, about 700 lbs of rock at Grand Caverns. Damage found to some formations?  Buckeye is closed
Upcoming trips-
Cold sink June 8-10, near Marion Va.  Pushing leads, survey
Pre-convention June 22-24. Five camps with trips on the website- sign up there. $20 to WVACS to go Convention. Campground opens Sunday night at state fairgrounds, may be able to set up on sat
   VPI. Catawba murder hole.
   Poor Farm RASS  WWAS
Convention June 25-29. Tanya’s talk is on Monday  
6 or more signed up from Tritrogs
Post convention Catawba murder hole
Karst hydrology
June 30-July 1 BCCS expedition weekend
Peter wants to a practice vertical at his house before convention!!
Grotto trip July 13-15. 4 hr drive fr here, 1 hr from campground to cave + 20 min walk
    Ice cream nearby!!
Cleanup Aug 11. Copenhavers cave, 1500 ft, wet, zen garden room is interesting climb.  Will get muddy. 
Puzzle on grotto timeline-  The whole group collaborated to solve clues to put tales and pictures in chronological order.   An excellent glimpse at our history as a Grotto as well as a fun and intriguing logic puzzle.  The grand prize shared by all was to extremely tasty Escazu chocolate bars! 
We then adjourned to a familiar Mexican Bar for tasty Armadillo tacos for dessert.  

April 24, 2012

Nothing remotely interesting happened prior to 8pm at which time the intrepid grotto secretary arrived and began taking notes. Rumor is that introductions included each person mentioning a cave on their “bucket list” they really want to get to someday.

Attendees: About 14? Including the disembodied pixelated head of Dr. Rob Harris live from Charlotte, Ken Walsh, Peter Hertl, Carlin Karchner, Ava Pope, Martin G, Bryce S, Jacob, Matt Lubin, Riley W, Mike (sorry I missed Mike’s last name), Nick, and eventually Mark D

Old Business and New Business
If any, this happened before the legendary scribe arrived.

Trip Reports

Bryce showed photos of Atwells tunnel cave with cool custom lighting by Matthew Weiss .
Great photos, Lots of water, chest deep pools, stream, nice formations cool shadow effects, Digital DSLR camera. Dodge and burn photo process technique.

Grand caverns- Ava, Jacob, and others at Grand restoration trip, re-glue formations, re-pave walkway in cave w gravel, bucket bruises etc from carrying many loads of gravel by hand. Nice dinner by Andy R. afterwards
Rest day next day. Cleanup done every Easter.

Carlin reported on Cyclops cave. 15 salamanders seen. Ava very envious of reported salamander sightings.
4 guys went, nicely decorated, in for 16 hrs, surveyed in downstream section, zip line rigged across lake and waterfall. Surveyed about 400 ft. Survey ends in walking passage.

Jacob shared about several folks going on cold sink survey. Off the old map now to new mapping! Ava and one other crossed crossed 20 ft wide 18 ft deep pit with makeshift harness, passage opened up, Survey station G17 lead goes to an intriguing big room. Picture shown of overlay on Surface map- new survey with original survey which is off by about 30 ft. Discussed magnetic declination gps error etc, Orange is the correct/newer line on his overlay to google earth map.

Rob went to Newberry-Banes /Pig hole- 170 ft entrance pit, rappel led in, entrance ledge, near Virginia Tech area, 190 ft drop, 2nd longest in Va. Rope walker system heavy and pain to take on and off, would prefer other system, banged up a bit

Sunday, Ava went to Sugar Grove area of Smyth County, VA: quarter square mile with 12 caves, Tanya is presenting on this area at NSS Convention!

Carlin, Ava, Mark D and about 25 others (many non cavers) attended a talk at UNC by Roger Brucker. A few of us had dinner with him and his wife Lynn beforehand. We met 2 of their poodles, saw their cool van/RV. cool guy, He spoke about Floyd Collins and writing the famous book, and about exploring around Mammoth Cave, KY and linking it up to other systems to form the world’s longest cave and still growing as more is surveyed. (More than 360 miles currently.)

Upcoming Trips:
Pete and Rob planning to go to VAR 4/27-29

5/4 SERA – AL
Jacob wants to cave somewhere the weekend of 5/4 if anyone interested but perhaps not as far away as Alabama

JUNE 22-30 pre convention, NSS Convention (25-29) and post convention activities

July 13 grotto trip to Breathing Cave! Riley working on food, borrow helmets etc now from Grotto as we could run out

Aug 11 Copenhavers cave cleanup trip

Some in group interested in organizing a Mammoth Cave group trip


Knots with Carlin

Showed 2 good books – Alpine Caving Techniques and On Rope

Old saying to avoid: “If you don’t know your knot tie a lot”, Not a safe way in many situations!!

Knots used for General caving, set hand lines, rig etrier etc, Rig traverse such as in Cold Sink Cave etc.
End knot, mid line knot, seat harness made of Webbing

Demo followed, then practice

Lot of knots have multiple names.
Discussed and practiced several knots:
Water knot on webbing
Figure 8 on a bight
Barrell knot (1/2 of double fisherman’s)
Double cows tail with knots about forearm length between
Butterfly (also called Alpine Butterfly)

Being a very knotty group we stayed past time the Museum staff wanted to go so at 10pm we took the ropes outside. Having already eaten the fearless note taker departed with presumptions that the group proceeded to a local watering hole perhaps to continue tying knots and rouse the suspicions of other patrons.