24 MAY 2019 BY MICHAEL MCBRIDE·0 COMMENTS

Introductions

In attendance:


Rachel Saker
Mike Broome
Hunter Williams
Emily Graham
Julie Fairbanks
Michael McBride
Eric Williams
Kim Parks
Zeke Van fossen
Elise Sanderson

Trip Reports

Elise – Grand Caverns: Group of 6 cavers with divided jobs. Carried 8x8s for
steps, broke gravel up off of flow stone, layed telephone wires, a
assisted with general cleaning of cave.
            Madison Saltpeter Cave – Saw historic signatures, Calcite Rafts
(growing), and Cave specific Isopods

  Rachel – British Expedition with Rachel near Cookesville (Mountain Eye),
                 Blue Spring (TN), a “super dry cave” but currently has lots of
flooding

Upcoming Trips and Activities

Call for help for VAR/ Trip L

– VAR 4/25-28

– SERA 5/2-3

-Shovel Eater, Hell Hole WV May 17th

   – Beginner TAG Trip  May 24th-27th

   – Work weekend BCCS 25th-26th

   – Poss Vert Practice locally?

Meeting Program:

Movie on Crystal Cave

Other Discussion and Previous Business:

Mike – Please pay your dues

Emily – Dave Jackson: Cave Sim will be at the convention. Possible sponsorship oppurtunities. Vote by email/list serv?

Introductions

In attendance, and announcing thier favorite cave pack:


Rachel Saker: Her Current Pack
Martin- Surplus bag, On Rope One Pack
Mike Broome– Tech conference give away, Lost Creek, AV
Hunter Williams- Earth Pack from Amazon
Emily Graham – GGG possibly?
Julie Fairbanks – Shopping for One
Michael McBride – Anything but Swaygo
Eric Williams– Kiddo’s Pack with Bat Unicorn, On Rope One Pack
Vardell Smyth- Military Surplus/ Hello Kitty
Kim Parks – Pack Rat from her Husband
Diane Gietl – Petzl
Howard – Swago
Lisa Lorenzin– Lost Creek
Ken Walsh- Swaygo
Carlin Kartchner- Landjoff
Peter – Lost Creek
Mark Daughtridge– Pacaderm


Trip Reports

Vardell, Julie, Hunter, Michael, as well as 3 others visited
Hancock Cave in Virginia. The conditions were moderate.
Multiple bats were noted.


Mike/Lisa – Pancake Weekend at BCSS, Surface Digging Mostly (first day),
Butler Cave later in the weekend.

Lost World Cave was also visited by Mike and Lisa this past weekend.

Andy, Kim, Mark visited Low Moor Cave with a group.

Rachel and Janet from Flittermouse visited Bone Norman Cave. Rachel’s Mexico trip had “no real caving” due to weather issues.

Upcoming Trips and Activities

Call for help for VAR/ Trip Leaders

Call for Renting Cabin for VAR: Lisa to spearhead!

Call from Ken for help Surveying Big Sink 4/13/19

Call from Lisa/Mike for Work Weekend help at Butler Cave (4/20, Memorial Day Weekend, One in June)

Call from Carlin for Perkins Survey Trip on 4/13/19

Michael McBride Provided a presentation/discussion on selecting and packing a cave pack

  • Multiple types and brands of bags, cannisters and boxes were displpayed, with discussion following the themes of packing and selecting with regards to durabilty, size/space constraints, cost and personal preference.

Other Discussion and Previous Business:

Pay your dues please – Paypal or cash, check to Mike Broome

Previous Business – OCR  Scholarship

Anti Harassment Policy

Ken = Conservation Trip? Poss. Trip for fall/autumn

Introductions

In attendance: Rachel Saker, Kyle, Michael McBride, Dave, Emily Graham, Zeke, Kim Parks, Ken Walsh, Julie Fairbanks, Vardell, Peter, and Carlin Kartchner, Mark Daughtridge

Trip Reports

Trip Reports:

Mark Daughtridge visited Mammoth Cave KY Feb 3rd. Cave named for the “buzz word” “Mammoth” of the time. Sunday he and his group visited Diamond Caverns and Hidden River/ Horse Cave and visited a Suspension bridge and museum.

Rachael Saker provided more info on her trip to Mammoth Cave along with more pics. She also visited Piercy Mill Cave and described it as a fun trip. The cave visited included a stretch that was kayakable.

Emily Graham, along with Peter, Taylor, and Ken undertook a survey trip to Big Sink Cave that lasted about 8 hours. There’s still plenty of survey left per the team. They encountered Monorail worms, some beetles and surveyed app 500 feet. Peter’s assessment of the trip sounded less intimidating than Ken’s.

Kim Parks Met up with above group (Emily’s from Big Sink) for a trip to Hancock Cave along with Walker Mountain Grotto for a bat count. 8 bats counted. Split into 2 groups. The conditions were very wet.

Michael – While on vacation in Canada, Michael and his Girlfriend Charity visited The Banff Cave and Basin. It was a sulfur spring based commercial cave system that was the first National Park in Canada.

Upcoming Trips and Activities

— 3/1-2 Cave Hollow Arbogast Survey Trip (likely upper section survey)
–3/8-9 Rachael going to WVACS, wet survey, has room to carpool
— 3/23-24 Beginners trip led by Michael M. to Hancock Cave
— 4/4  Grand Caverns Restoration
— 4/26-27 Spring VAR
— 6/17 Convention
— 6/22 OCR in Burnesville, VA (Scholarship to be discussed later)

Ken Walsh Provided a presentation on the NSS Convention Structure :

All NSS Convention attendees from previous years were asked to leave the room.

Cards were passed with specific topics from the structure of the Convention and each of the participants who had previously attended a convention acted out an aspect of that structure.

Peter – Campgrounds – Fairground style, large, groups or remote. Generally, less noisy than other group outings. 3 conventions that were destroyed by storms, red cross involvement. 

Carlin – Parties, Food, Drink. Carlin does all of the above. Loud comradery. Tritrogs = quiet, but hang out with the loud. Banquet. Weather might destroy. Possible NSS glass and free alcohol.

Emily – Field Trips – Sunday = Geology field trip locally. Food on this trip.

Peter – Contests – Vertical climbing, divisions (men/women/ age groups/different climbing systems). 30 meter, 120 feet

Carlin – Sessions and Classes – Photography, etc. Sessions = Big attractions. Regional, international, US. Other focuses.

Emily – Vendors/ Consignment – Things to buy: Cave Suits, harnesses, lots of everything. Gear, Boots, artwork, woodworking, harnesses, custom fittings, all available for purchase.

Mark – Price and Guidebook. Next two conventions within driving distance. Price = cheaper the earlier sign up.  App. $200, cheaper to be a NSS member. Guide book = high quality/ cool

Carlin – Slide Salon and other salon – Cave maps, Calin loves them. See other maps at salon, show off your own, critique each other. Participation does not mean judgement, just involvement. Catography salon = favorite. Slide salon = pictures. Print salon, Ken has been involved. Music Salon, Art in general.

Mark – Section Meeting. Mark’s never been to one. Break down by different sections: Cave Diving, Vertical, Geology, Biology, etc.Specific to each sections. More specific.

General questions/answers on convention: Yes there’s a t-shirt. Generally a good one. List of cave trips on website. Schedule not online yet, but should be there 2-3 months in advance. Cave trips may cost an addition fee. Camping is advised by Mark.

Votes by members to decide who was most convincing: Carlin with his description of slide salons!

Votes by previous goers: Michael with useful question.

App. Half the attendees are going/might go.

Caves.org was suggested for more info.

Introductions

In attendance: Emily Graham, Rachel Saker, Michael McBride, Julie, Bill, Mark Little, Carlin Kartchner, Mike Broome, Mark Daughtridge, Andy Chang, Lana, Hastings, Boone, Zeke Van Fossen, Kim Parks

 

Emily’s last question to the group: How many cave trips to you plan to go on in 2019?

Lana: New, never been caving

Boone: New, never been caving

Mark L: uncertain

Bill: 1-2

Julie: 2

Hastings: 2.5

Zeke: 4

Kim: 7.2

Andy: 6-9

Carlin: 6+

Mark D: More if there wasn’t global warming (11?)

Emily: 12

Mike M: 12

Mike B: 12 (although math is hard- might be off)

Rachel: 10 planned before May, so let’s extrapolate to 30 (Math is definitely hard…)

Which, if you figure all the new and re-newed members try out caving once, results in an average of 7.3, rather close to Kim’s 7.2. Shoot for average!)

 

 

Business

  • Do pay dues. A signup sheet was passed around to record your name if you have already paid dues for 2019 or were signing up at the meeting. Member is $15 for an individual, $22 for a family. There is a PayPal link through the website (note: this includes only an email address. Please also pass your name along to the treasurer to be marked as a member for the year).
  • A member of the Perkin’s survey trip left behind two towels at Tanya’s. Mike McBride thinks they may belong to Pete.
  • Dave Duguid has some cat litter buckets up for grabs if anyone is interested. They are sturdy, and excellent for hauling dirt out of caves.
  • There is a remaining check that is outstanding from reimbursement for food on annual grotto trip. The check amount is $23.94. Don’t forget to cash your check.
  • Thanks goes to all the officers that served in 2019 (especially to our president). Do relay thanks to Eric as well for setting up an excellent series of programs.
  • 2019 marks the 30th anniversary for the Triangle Troglodytes grotto.
  • The treasury report for 2018 was relayed by an email from Martin. With some questions and follow up items remaining, the report is currently ongoing and will be conveyed at a later date.
  • The NSS is initiating an anti-harassment policy in response to two events that were reported in 2018. Each grotto can accept the policy as-is, or modify as needed to suit their needs. A motion was made to form a committee to craft a policy appropriate for out grotto. Mike McBride offered to spearhead the initiative. Look for an email from him shortly calling for TriTrog input.

 

Trip Reports 

  • A group of 9 Tritrogs meet up with Jason Lockney and team to continue the effort to survey Perkin’s Cave. They split into 4 survey groups, with Ken, Dave, Carlin, and Jason each leading. There was one cave passage that was recorded to have two positive inclinations, and the consensus from the meeting is that it should bear the moniker ‘uphill both ways in the snow’.

Mike McBride braved a bout of bronchitis and surveyed nonetheless, though at one point he attempted a squeeze and decided it might not be best, only to be told he better fit as that was the way forward.

Highlight of the trip? Carlin was able to make a handshake connection and mark a survey station that can be reached when the stations on the other side advance to that area.Notable spots included the beautifully decorated sparkle room, and a great crawl that has a flat calcite floor with some texture to it.

After an arduous 12+ hours underground, the crew stayed at Tanya’s 45 minutes away (much warmer than camping at Perkin’s).

  • On the last weekend of 2018, Low Moor Cave hosted Emily, Mike McBride, his girlfriend and her daughter, and Eric and his daughter. The group went in through the quarry entrance, which was mined to have a natural roof with rock pillars on the side to support it. The main quarry was 100 yards off to the right with walking passage that have a ceiling 100-120 ft above you. Mike was able to test his 3000 lumen dive light to fully illuminate the epic space. The main cave has areas where the quarry has dug into it to create vast overlooks into the quarry itself. The group spent about 6 hours in the cave, making it to Fossil Alley and beyond. Along the way they saw 8-12 individual bats, other spots with obvious guano, and a few salamanders. One crawl that dumps you out into a 6-7 ft pit that is spanned by a metal ladder offered a fun challenge for the girls, though Mike opted against testing the precarious holding on the far side that is supported mainly by sloped earth. The water was up, but the stream at the entrance was still low enough to drive through.
  • Rachel headed north to join with WVACS, and the couple inches of snow did not discourage them from spending 10 glorious hours in Windymill. It took about two hot hours (they were moving fast) to reach the leads they were pushing, but surveying went quickly since they were aided by DISTOs. Overall they added about 300 – 400 ft to the map and saw two crawdads. There is a return trip scheduled in a couple of weeks.

 

Upcoming Trips and Activities

  • Feb 9: Frick’s Cave Membership Appreciation Day (Georgia). This cave is only open one day of the year, though some areas remain roped off to protect the endangered grey bats that reside here. Near the entrance it is a huge, open cave that will narrow to a stream cave further back. The day usually includes a good presentation and it is possible that vendors may attend as well. Must be a current SCCi member or guest to attend
  • Feb 16 – 17: Big Sink Cave survey (Marion, VA) with bat count to follow on Sunday at Hancock Cave. Great beginner’s trip. May want to wear a wet suit or at least wet suit bottoms at Big Sink.
  • March 16 – 24: Rachel will be caving in Mexico near El Salto/Monterey. The plan is to fly into Austin then drive 8 hrs south. There is a 100 ft large wall, and rappelling areas are 20 – 30 ft.
  • April 6: Grand Caverns restoration (Grottos, VA). This is a commercial cave that sees heavy traffic. Work will be done to spread gravel into divots that have formed and scrub formations to remove growth that has amassed due to the artificial lights. Afterward, you are allowed to visit the nearby caves Madison and Fountain. Do check out the shields in Grand Caverns (big discs that form from hydrostatic pressure) and enjoy the free food.
  • April 25 – 28 Spring VAR (Wytheville, VA). Large regional gathering of cavers. Caving, vendors, feast. All you ever need.
  • May- girl scout trip. Emily’s niece is part of a girl scout troop that has previously been on a number of caving trips. Although there is no additional room for kids, there is still a need for ‘adults’. Hancock cave is a possible destination.
  • May 24 – 27: Speleofest (KY). Hosted by the Louisville grotto.
  • June 17 – 21: NSS Convention (Cookeville, TN). This national caving convention is hosted in a different site every year, with 2019 being comparatively close to NC. There are additional caving camps before and after the event.

 

 

Congratulations to the new officers for 2019!

Chair: Rachel Saker

Vice Chair: Ken Walsh

Webmaster: Carlin Kartchner

Secretary: Mike McBride

Treasurer: Mike Broome

Introductions

In attendance: Emily, Rachel, Mark Daughtridge, Pete, Kim, Michael McBride, Jason Smythe, Dave, and Ken

Emily brightened up the group by asking what headlamp we use. The consensus was that the group either owns a Zebra or wants one, and Black Diamond and Petzl don’t hold up well in caves. Emily happily sports a Phoenix with a battery pack. Mark supplements his Zebra with a Marble Mountian 900 lumen (great power!), and Mike supplements his Zebra with a Streamlight 900 lumen he picked up for less than $20. Pete is partial to his Nitecore, with the nice feature of having a big button that you can use even if you have gloves on. Kim follows everyone else’s light, and Jason and Dave are in the market.

 

Business

  • Do pay dues! The PayPal link still works, and Martin requested you email him before you pay. Money goes to grotto trip, cave gear, donations, etc.
  • Donations: $200 to Appalachian Cave Conservancy (owned cave where we had the grotto trip) also a $50 to the International Association for Geoscience Diversity for access for people with disabilities.
  • Darwin day: thank you to the people who helped with Darwin Day (Mark, Peter, Ken, Eric, and Diana). With more than 4,000 people in attendance, it was more than the museum expected.
  • The business card stock is mostly depleted. Ken will place an order to replenish since he has previously ordered the business cards.
  • This year the holiday party will be hosted by Kim on December 8th, 6:30 pm at 423 S. Riverdale Dr. Bring good cheer, and food. Kim will send out a sign up sheet for food shortly. The building of a squeeze box is a solid maybe.
  • Start thinking about nominations for officers next year. Elections will be held at the January meeting. (Reminder: we do not meet in December)
  • Rachel signed up TriTrogs for a fence project at Clover Hollow Cave. There is a barbed wire fence in disrepair and it would be nice to put in a few new posts. VPI may be able to get some of their trainees to assist with the project. If there is enough wood, the group could build a stepladder.

 

Trip Reports

Ken, Dan, Hunter, Taylor and Peter scouted Scott Hollow with camera gear in tow. The house on top of the entrance was built by a caver, complete with a trap door to provide access to a culvert that leads to the cave. The passages trends down for a long time, maybe 500 ft, but Pete described it as not too noticeable. The group was underground for about 10 hours and made it down to the lower section with a stream. Since it was a photo trip, there was a decent bit of standing while the photographers worked their magic. Pete got a quick glance at some of Hunter’s shots while he was editing that night. A must see. After shooting, they explored the cave and tackled a challenging climb over flowstone. Ken led onward to some points of interest. Overall, lots of stream walking though luckily the water was mostly shallow.

The next day was a shorted bout through Piercy’s Mill to clean the mud off the cave suits. Not the wade-through-a-shallow stream kind of clean off your boots. Think: chest-deep crossings bordered by muddy banks that required sticks to provide enough purchase to make it up (the discarded sticks at the entrance proved to be indispensable). Ken, ever the excellent leader, forged through the stream first to find the deep spots and submerged rocks. All crossings were successful, with only one unintentional bath that cleaned off Ken’s whole cave suit. The trek was worth the treasure. Piercy’s Mill is a highly ornamented cave with rimstones pools. Some dry, some still retained water, some quite deep. Pete highly recommends going to take a look.

 

At the end of October, Rachel traveled north to VPI and started with a surveying trip in Culverson Creek Cave to expand some of the upper attic. The next day yielded a sport trip to Maxwelton Sink Cave, accessed near town by an antique shop. Plenty of formations, and the middle of the cave has a rather large canyon. Continuing to Blacksburg, Rachel ventured into Starnes Cave (with so much rain outside, even the chandeliers were dripping) and Pig Hole (a nice pit, saw a beautiful rimstone pool dubbed Queen’s Bath). The next day brought a rappel through a waterfall into Clover Hollow. With a nod to the cold temperatures, they rappelled on the side opposite from the waterfall itself. In some of the pits the bolt placement wasn’t ideal and necessitated some rerigging.

 

Ken and Emily spent some time ridge walking, following up on report to Tanya from a D.O.T. worker who mentioned that he saw something that might have been a cave. Despite numerous briars for Emily and two ticks for Tanya, no cave was located. On Saturday the hunt for caves continued, this time for caves that had been mapped previously but would benefit from a resurvey. They found the wife of the landowner, then later an uncle that provided a landowner’s cell phone number. Based off Tanya’s topo map, they were able to drive to Big Sink cave, which was visible from the road. The entrance was about half way of the sink and the smell wafted up, the culprit being the abundant animal (raccoon?) feces. Between the miserable condition and the fact that soon-to-be-85-years old was accompanying, they decided to call it a day but not before noting two lucifuga near the entrance.

 

Mike McBride took a few people who had not caved in a while to Ellison’s Cave. After admiring all the petrified wood, they dropped the warm up pit. There was an unfortunate amount of trash for a cave that is visited many by cavers, though some of it may be wash in. The old rope, batteries, and bolts clearly speaks to caver trash and warrants a clean up effort. Of note, the bats are beginning to return to this cave. Mike reports seeing a significant increase in Little Brown Bats compared to his previous trips.

 

Upcoming Trips and Activities

  • Dec 8: Holiday Party at 423 S. Riverdale Dr. 6:30 pm
  • Weekend of Dec 7-9: Rachel will be joining in WVACs festivities and extended an invite to carpool if anyone was interested.
  • Possible trip over New Years? Will plan out details at the holiday party.

 

Program

Pete regaled the group with everything we always wanted to know about cat rats.

Introductions

Eric (and his taco hat) lead the by initiating a debate over what factors affect the cooking time of pasta. He finally reveals the question of the day- What is more heinous: glitter or cat hair?

Glitter haters include: Eric, Rachel, Zeke, Kim, Mike Broome

Those that despise cat hair: Hunter, Emily, Pete, Sarah Dotson, Diana, Mark Daughtridge

Ken was also in attendance but chose to answer a different question (What are you?) by explaining his Scottish (not Irish) garb.

 

Business

  • Thanks goes to all BugFest volunteers!
  • If there are any outstanding balances from the grotto trip, please make sure you are reimbursed.
  • Pay your dues
  • A general reminder: make sure someone not going in the cave knows where you will be and what time you are expected out.
  • Volunteers are needed for Darwin Day. Pete will have an earthworm table, and TriTrogs will run a bat table.
  • This year the holiday party will be hosted by Kim on December 8th. Bring good cheer, and food.

 

Trip Reports

  • 23 Big Brown bats (Eptesicus fuscus) were recorded at Harris Lake County Park during a bat count. All were in good health.
  • Mike, though he missed the chance to share a trip report, did go caving. Somewhere underground.

 

Upcoming Trips and Activities

  • Oct 26: VPI trip with Rachel
  • Nov 3 – 4: Scott Hollow Photo Trip WV
  • Nov 10: Darwin Day
  • Dec 8: Holiday Party

 

Program

Flamingos were raced, costumes were judged, speleobingo was played, and much fun was had at the Halloween Party.

Introductions

In attendance:

Emily, Rachel, Eric, Zeke, Mark, Michael, Julie, Carlin, Diana, Peter, Vardell, Joani, Kim

When asked what animal we would like to see in a cave, the group answered with its usual variety and extravagance. Pack mules, narwhals, Robin (from Batman, clearly), sasquatch (who wouldn’t want to see him anywhere?), dragon, giant isopods, luminescent animals, olms, unicorns, cave rats (so cool!), spiders like in an Indiana Jones movie, a wish-granting monkey, and a turtle that could be rescued this time around.

 

Business

  • BugFest: rescheduled for October 20th. Unfortunately, Pete will be out of town that weekend and will not be able to attend. He is still looking for volunteers for the Orthoptera table.
  • Darwin Day: November 10th. This will be a more subdued version than BugFest (think earthworms!) but volunteers are still welcome.
  • Upcoming programs: Join the Halloween party in October. Be prepared for a mystery program by Pete in November.
  • This year the holiday party will be hosted by Kim on December 8th. Bring good cheer, and food.

 

Trip Reports

Mike McBride travelled near and far (from AZ to TX to WV) and stopped in a few caves along the way. Wave Cave, near Phoenix, was so named for a sand stone rock with a wave-shaped rock near the entrance. Sex Cave, near Austin, was so named… er. Sex Cave, near Phoenix, had fresh flowstone and draperies that were within the sunlight from the entrance. In total there may have been a full 60ft of cave. Goat Cave was mysteriously named as there was no goats in the cave. It was within a karst management area. Rock Cave, in WV did at least have rocks, although in a creepily symmetric layout and a super smooth entrance. It was way back on someone’s property and was maybe 80ft by 30ft. There was a huge round boulder about 300 ft by 40 ft.

Also saw multiple starlings working together to tear apart and eat bats.

 

Mark, Emily, Ken, Mike, and Lisa ventured out to OTR to check out some of the WV caves.

Hamilton has about 4.5 miles, though it may have only been 4.5 ft tall for most of the route they took through the cave.  At the first junction, they decided to go right and encountered a lot of crawling and tight spaces (maybe left would have been better?). The cave was laid out in a grid pattern with most of the passages perpendicular, making it relatively easy to find your way back to the entrance. The downside was that there were a lot of balloons hanging from stalactites. New Trout was a very different cave despite being very close to Hamilton. Even the dirt was a different color and the air a different temperature.

Mark returned to Sinks of Gandy. Because of the recent rains, the group was in water the entire time, but luckily there was almost no gear to decon.

Surveying on Stillhouse Cave continued, with Emily, Ken, Mike, Lisa, and about 15 others participating in the efforts, splitting up into 3 groups of 5 each. Emily ended up in a group with a visually impaired surveyor and Katie on sketching. They were tackling a resurvey, asking if a particular stream went somewhere. Emily is not sure they figured out an answer.

 

The Rail Valley survey is complete, though Carlin wants to return one last time to revisit the blowing hole that has decent potential. The problem is that investigating the lead would require breaking some rocks. With the hole being 6 ft up, you can easily chimney up to check it out but it poses a problem for rock breaking, especially since the worst rocks are in the ceiling. It may be dangerous to dislodge those without the proper purchase. Although the dig is close to the entrance (maybe 100 ft), you would still have to carry any tools along the ¾ mile hike to the cave itself. Other interesting mystery that is left unsolved is the liquor cabinet: it is noticeably colder there, with air movement that cannot be pinpointed.

After finishing at the cave, they stayed at Tanya’s with some other cavers. Carlin drove Terry out to Radon Cave at 10 pm and it started pouring as soon as they got there, but he still went and was back in time for breakfast.

They also did some ridge walking, but this time of year everything is rather overgrown. They did spot a spring coming out of a 4-5ft cliff, but there were no obvious caves. Carlin would love to investigate some of the other springs along Holston River and explore the dips in the topo maps.

 

Diana, Eric, Rachel, Andy, and Jess attended Fall VAR and spent about 8 hours underground in New River Cave. Tuxedo proved to be a bit tight (especially for Andy) and the meat grinder brought out the requisite barrel rolls.

 

Upcoming Trips and Activities

  • Sept 28 – 30: Fall into the Gorge. Kayaking, caving, rappelling. $20. Run by KY Karst Conservancy
  • Sept 28 – 29: Fall MAR (PA)
  • Oct 4 – Oct 7 TAG Fall Cave-in (GA)
  • Oct 20: rescheduled BugFest
  • Nov 3 – 4: Scott Hollow Photo Trip
  • Nov 10: Darwin Day
  • Dec 8 Holiday Party

 

Program

Mike McBride regaled the group with stories over overnight caving and how to pack appropriately.

 

Introductions

Emily polled the group by asking what kind of caving we are most drawn to:

Sport: Mike Williams, Jimmy Survey: Carlin, Mark Photo: Hunter, Vardell, Matthew, Andy Vertical: Jennifer, Pete Naked: Lisa, Eric Conservation: Emily Float: Zeke

Those that can’t follow instructions and made their own choice: Ken (Horizontal), Martin (also horizontal), Kim (underground), Taylor (Horizontal). Also in attendance: Mike Broome, Joan, Stacy

Business

  • Do pay your dues! Dues help pay for the grotto trip and other TriTrog-sponsored activities/items. You can pay through Paypal account via the TriTrogs website, and please follow up with an email to the treasurer (Marin) at marting10@yahoo.com in order to track current members.
  • Thanks to all that joined on the Grotto Trip. If you paid for food, give Martin your receipts and he can reimburse you.
  • Upcoming programs: Ask Mike McBride about overnight caving in September. Join the Halloween party in October. Be prepared for a mystery program by Pete in November.
  • This year the holiday party will be hosted by Kim on December 8th. Bring good cheer, and food.
  • Bugfest: If you want to volunteer, Pete needs to turn in the volunteer sheet sometime next week. You get a free tshirt, and lunch if you sign up for multiple shifts.

Trip Reports

Mark and Brian lead a beginner trip through Low Moor cave. With a destination of Fossil Alley in mind, they ventured in through the natural entrance and discovered about 15-20 bats flying in the area between the natural entrance and the mine. Further in, they discovered writing on the wall that alluded to a lake room (might warrant another trip to figure out if the promise holds true). Once in Fossil Alley, they were rewarded by the sight of a 6 – 7-inch segmented fossil, which speculation as to what it may be continued until dinner later that night. All enjoyed the excursion underground, and as usual the trip to Low Moor included a visit by the friendly campground cat.

 

Tawney’s Cave was the destination of the renowned group of cave photographers (Hunter, Ken, Dan, Matthew Weiss, Michael, Mark DeWitte, Matthew Lubin). Hunter learned the valuable lesson not to overload yourself with gear unless you want to be a Sherpa.

 

The NSS Convention got Mark Daughtridge underground more often than he was above it. Preconvention, he got to 10 caves, inside 6 of them. Notably, the nicest was Maribel with beautiful formations. The Cave of the Mounds near Madison, WI harbored a 6 ft cephalopod fossil. The commercial cave Crystal Lake in IA was, not surprisingly, touristy. Spook Cave was good for kids (you enter on a boat!). Crystal Cave offered an excellent educational piece on bats given by a great guide. Eagle Cave was not open (commercial cave) despite hours being posted online.

At the convention itself, Mark was able to limit himself to just 3 caves:

  • At Wagner’s Cave, the approach was best. You had to scuttle up a huge rope that came off a ship to climb the last 25 ft to the entrance, hopefully ignoring the dead pack rat and rat nests hidden inside.
  • Lewis and Clark Caverns proved sporty for a commercial cave, even allowing cavers to slide down a stone slide at one point.
  • Garrity Cave was off the beaten track, requiring a high clearance 4-wheel drive. Think: No roads, all rock. They almost drove right into the entrance, but stopped in time and instead rigged from the car to drop about 50 ft into the cave. When leaving, the sun was coming in at the perfect angle to take a fabulous picture. Less exciting, they ripped a 3-inch gash in their tire and had to change the tire to get back in time for the remnants of dinner

Other convention tidbits:  Next year the convention will be held in Cookeville, TN and the following year is in WV. The gear decon situation was the same as last year: the Decontaminator 5000. Bag up all submersible gear, then they dunk it, and you collect later. There was loaner gear and helmets, some of which was dedicated to each cave. Last but not least, Rob won 2 certificates for vertical caving!

 

A successful annual grotto trip descended to the long and sporty Gilley Cave. The 22 attendees divided into 3 groups to explore the 5 miles of cave. It was big enough that the groups only saw each other in passing. One group did a handline drop into a very decorated room (crystals, popcorn, pool with ‘almost cave pearls’). The group that was in there the longest made it all the way to the stream (400 ft below the entrance) and saw a few of the chert hoops (might they actually be stromatolites?). Zeke said it was 61.5 degrees according to his possibly uncalibrated thermometer (regardless, it was warm). The cave housed one bat, one salamander, and now 6 less D cell batteries and many less 80s coke cans and other trash.

Despite the rodeo at the campground that lasted until 2 am, some checked out Natural Tunnel State Park on Sunday.

 

Upcoming Trips and Activities

  • Aug 30 – Sept 3: OTR (WV) Old Timer’s Reunion will run from Thursday at noon to Monday morning. This will include lots of contest, vendors, 1500 people, campfires, some caving trips. Local caves on Saturday get crowded. If you plan on joining, you need to either be a member of The Robertson Association or a guest (ie 2 TRA members vouch for you and send in paperwork).
  • Aug 31 – Sept 3: Cave fest in TN, approximately 9 hrs from here.
  • Sep 8 – Sept 9: Smyth Co. Survey Carlin is going to Rail Valley (it’s a 0.5 mile hike in, but flat). It’s under a railroad. Some crawling. It’s an open area where they will be surveying. You will need a little bit of vertical knowledge. 30 ft drop.
  • Sept 15: BugFest. Peter sent out an email about volunteering as a way to give back to the museum for allowing us to meet there. You get to hold a grasshopper or a praying mantis.
  • Sept 22 – 23: FALL VAR in Blacksburg, VA
  • Sept 22: Bats, Bear, & Bluegrass
  • Sept 28 – 30: Fall into the Gorge. Kayaking, caving, rappelling. $20. Run by KY Karst Conservancy
  • Oct 4 – Oct 7: TAG Fall Cave-in (GA)
  • Nov 10: Darwin Day: Emily brought in the Darwin Day poster. Posed to the group- does anyone want to redesign the poster?
  • Dec 8: Holiday Party. Bring food. Kim claimed she will do a squeeze box (Mark/Mike offered to help design)

Ken wants to do another photo trip.

 

Program

Matthew gave an introduction to cave surveying.

 

 

Introductions

In attendance: Emily, Ken, Dave, Jimmy, Jennifer, Hunter, Carlin, Taylor, Andy, Zeke, Diana, Eric, Mark, Dan, Matthew, Kim

Emily spurred the group into action by asking about our favorite caving verb. As cavers, we trudge, thrutch, walk, wallow, slide, climb, survey, crawl, squeeze, chimney, begrudge, abseil, stem, portage, and meander.

 

Business

  • Do pay your dues! The rate is now reduced to $7.50 (or $11 for families). Dues help pay for the grotto trip and other TriTrog-sponsored activities/items.
  • Upcoming programs: Learn about surveying from Matthew in August. Ask Mike McBride about overnight caving in September. Join the Halloween party in October. Be prepared for a mystery program by Pete in November.
  • Sign up for the grotto trip if you plan to attend. Currently there are about 11 people already signed up. A link to signup has already been circulated and will be emailed out again. The trip will take place at Gilley Cave in Lee County, with camping nearby at Leeman Field RV Park and Campgrounds, which offers showers. Suggestions are welcome for Sunday activities (Ken mentioned biking the VA Creeper Trail)
  • This year the holiday party will be hosted by Kim on December 8th. Bring good cheer, and food.

 

Trip Reports

Carlin, Ken, Dave, and Dawson travelled back to Rail Valley Cave in Smyth County, VA to continue surveying. Of the muddy crawls through Smyth Country, this one was muddier than most. To complement the mud, the deep rumble of the train overhead made it sound as though water was rushing in.

Although most of the leads didn’t go anywhere, one opened up through a fissure into a 40 ft wide, 30 ft high room complete with 20 ft column and other large formations. There was also a larger 30 ft pit but they unfortunately lacked the gear to cross. After surveying the liquor cabinet, the group decided that the cold had finally sunk in, and they will return to survey the rest with proper gear and more help in tow.

Other interesting facets of this trip included some noteworthy bugs, salamanders, and the interesting trek to get to the cave itself. After failing to obtain the key to the gait when the property owner was not at home, they scouted alternate ways of entry that involved crossing the river. Carlin was rather excited to discover that there were resurgences where the river went through the mountain, and sticking his head into one of the voids, he could hear water running though about 15 ft below. What did Carlin do all morning? Look for caves, of course. Eventually they ended up hiking in past the locked gate, but the tree growth would have prevented vehicle access regardless.

The next day brought another survey trip, this time through Staley’s Cave. For reference, this is on the same property as Snocone, but lower in the valley. Tanya came out to help survey the entrance, and in total they logged about 200ft of the L-shaped cave. In additional to the extra footage, they also gained new insight on Carlin (he doesn’t like caterpillars).

Eric and his daughter went to the bat ranch and were joined by Alexa and her daughter. The group explored Tawney’s Cave, starting at the larger entrance that went into the formation room. After getting lost and climbing a lot of mud, they found the semicircular moon room with the stream that flows along the edge. They did make it all the way back to the sinkhole, but missed the connection to the emerald room and instead found a dead cow. The following day brought Lynx Cave and lots of sideways walking and crawling.

Ken and Emily ventured back to Gilley Cave for a cleanup trip. They made excellent progress removing some of the graffiti from the entrance. Afterwards, Emily joined some of the other cavers on the crawl back to Echo Lake. It turned out to be a low, wet 40 ft crawl the ended with some of the younger girls wading into the lake. Upstream, they found some 4 ft hoop formations (Emily’s tape measure came in handy) and walls of gypsum in the dry sections. They encountered one slimy salamander and one E.  lucifuga, but no bats.

 

Upcoming Trips and Activities

  • This weekend: Photo trip to Tawney’s: They group (~8 people) will stay at the bat ranch, driving up Friday and coming back Saturday.
  • July 28 – Aug 4: NSS Convention (MT)
  • Aug 17 – 19: Mark leading beginner trip
  • Aug 25 – 26: Annual TriTrogs Grotto Trip: Gilley Cave, camping in Pennington gap at Leeman Field RV Park and Campgrounds
  • Aug 30 – Sept 3: OTR (WV) Old Timer’s Reunion will run from Thursday at noon to Monday morning. This will include lots of contest, vendors, 1500 people, campfires, some caving trips. Local caves on Saturday get crowded. If you plan on joining, you need to either be a member of The Robertson Association or a guest (ie 2 TRA members vouch for you and send in paperwork).
  • Aug 31 – Sept 3: Cave fest in TN, approximately 9 hrs from here.
  • Sept 15: BugFest/ Peter sent out an email about volunteering as a way to give back to the museum for allowing us to meet there. You get to hold a grasshopper or a praying mantis.
  • Sept 22 – 23: FALL VAR in Blacksburg, va
  • Sept 28 – 30 Fall into the Gorge. Kayaking, caving, rappelling. $20. Run by KY Karst Conservancy
  • Nov 10: Darwin Day

 

Program

Diana took the group through some of the gorgeous caves she has visited.

 

Introductions

In attendance: Emily, Carlin, Eric, Ken, Mark, Peter, Jimmy, Hunter, Dan, Dave

Question: How many machetes do you own? Pete comes in as the clear machete expert (with no less than 6), Dan has 3 (one for each hand), and Emily mysteriously has a half of a machete.

 

Business

  • Pay your dues! Starting in July the price goes down. If you don’t know if you paid, go ahead and pay (… or ask Martin).
  • Upcoming programs include a stint by Diana next month on an unknown but sure-to-be enthralling topic. August promises a surveying extravaganza. Every wonder about how to prepare for an overnight caving trip? Ask Mike McBride in September. Join us for a Halloween party in October where odds are there will be at least one item with a bat on it. In November, Pete will enchant the group with an unknown topic. If there is ever a need, the NSS has webinars that we could resort to for programs, including one about splints for fractures, another about how ropes are made, another about TN caves.
  • BugFest is coming up in mid-September. Help the museum (and Pete!) by volunteering at the Orthoptera table.
  • Kim volunteered to host the holiday party this year.

 

Trip Report (and grotto trip considerations)

Emily, Diana, and Eric went to Gilley’s Cave to scout it out as a possible location for this year’s annual grotto trip. The cave is in Pennington Gap, VA, which is about 5 hours from Raleigh. Gilley’s is owned by the Appalachian Cave Conservancy and has a gate that needs to be unlocked. Unfortunately, it has a lot of graffiti and broken formations, but it also holds beautiful popcorn, crystals, and gypsum.  Lots of waterfalls as well. The cave itself was mostly walking passage, and all crawls (some of which were tight) were voluntary. Further into the cave, there was a lot of breakdown. The cave offers about 4.5 miles of mapped cave to explore.

Gilley’s can probably hold 18-20 people, and Emily is currently looking into an overflow cave option.

Where to camp? Natural Tunnel campground is only 0.5 hr from the cave, but the primitive group campsite (which still has water and a shelter) only holds 12 people. Additional campsites are 0.5 mils away. There is camping in Bristol potentially.

Pete posed the question of potentially returning to the Rass site from the last annual grotto trip and do different caves. This would require getting permission to enter Porter’s again. The larger shelter would come in handy if it rained.

Ken suggested that we will have a sign in sign out list at the cave entrance.

 

Upcoming Trips and Activities

  • June 29 – July 1: Survey trip in Smith county, possibly Rail Valley. (Contact Carlin for information) The railroad tracks are about 30 ft away, you feel it if you are in the cave. Original survey had ~800 ft (not the best quality). There is a blowing lead that goes into darkness and extends into limestone so it has potential. It’s a horizontal trip. Plan to get damp as you go in, have some extra dry layers. Ken found 6 leads the last time, he might not be able to follow unless they are dug out a bit.
  • July 2: Eric may take his daughter up to the bat house and go caving
  • July 7: Gilley cave graffiti cleanup (will try and document the graffiti since some of it is really old, 1800s)
  • July 7: Carlin going to the bat ranch and may go to Smoke Hole. It’s tie dye weekend.
  • Later July: Ken wants to do a photography trip
  • July 28 – Aug 4: NSS Convention (MT)
  • Aug 17 – 19: Mark might do a small Low Moor beginner’s trip
  • Aug 24 – 26: Annual TriTrogs Grotto Trip
  • Aug 30 – Sept 3: OTR (WV)
  • Sept 22 – 23: Fall VAR New River Junction, Blacksburg, VA
  • Sept 22: Bats, beer, and bluegrass hosted by the Southeastern Cave Conservancy. Chickamauga, GA
  • Sept 28 – 30 Fall into the Gorge (KY). Limited space. $20 to attend. Camping, kayaking, rappelling, and cave surveying.
  • Nov 10: Darwin Day at NC Museum of Natural Sciences

 

Program

Kim: Everything you never wanted to know about Cave Salamanders