Howard and Hayden Holgate, Mark Daughtridge, Matthew van Fossen, Warren Pusak, Ken Walsh, John Plyler, and Rob Phelps attended the meeting. Howard presided and covered the business issues in record time (half-price dues, web hosting, sign outside the museum, and upcoming programs before I had time to type).
Discussion then turned to White Nose Syndrome once again. The Virginia cave specialists confirmed that Hancock Cave bats were infected. They will begin a monitoring program this fall and winter and are looking for volunteers to help observe bat behavior in Smyth County (possibly at Hancock and Buchanan Saltpeter Caves), and Ken will serve as a contact point for volunteers. Warren expressed some interest in scouts helping with the monitoring efforts.
[Why Dave Duguid should come to meetings]
Rob Phelps shared a trip report and photos about his survey in Busted Turtle Cave with leader Dave Duguid. The upper level dropped 45 feet followed by a 15-foot nuisance drop. The team aimed to get to the bottom, so they passed by walls covered by giant flakes of dirt and clay. The giant flakes looked as though they could easily fall off, but Dave pressed the team to go lower.
When they reached the stream passage, Dave laid Robbie Spiegel in a few inches of water to check out the downstream area until a rock blocked his way. Robbie got cold quickly after this coating in mud and water, so they sent him out of the cave.
Dave Duguid scooped forty feet of passage headed upstream and then ordered Rob and Brian Williams to survey it. Dave contended that he had cleared the passage out by shoveling the dirt to the sides of the passage. The bottom of the passage was U-shaped, so all of the dirt had fallen back to the center after Dave used his trowel. Rob crawled backwards twenty feet in order to survey the passage. He could not turn his head, stopped several times to be sure he could breathe, and found that the cave suit cut into his scrotum. He could only move backwards three inches at a time but eventually found a spot too tight for him. At least it wasn’t muddy there.
Instead they found a shorter stream crawl that let them come out in the same place, a little bit wetter. Beyond this they left a blowing lead for someone fresher than themselves.
The ropes were incredibly muddy as the crew ascended. The crew needed to clean their ascenders with each step. During their exit they passed a number of leads on the first level and noted that the back canyon had some interesting possibilities if they could traverse it. The photos showed that the upper section of the cave was quite beautiful with 50-foot-high canyons. The team surveyed 472 ft in 21 stations to a depth of 145 ft.
Upcoming trips were discussed:
- Ken Walsh is organizing a trip to Lovers Leap Cave for August 29
- John Plyler has seats available to Old Timers Reunion Labor Day Weekend
- Fall VAR will be held September 25-27, but no caving trips will be organized
- Ken suggested that anyone looking for a sport trip organize a trip to horizontal Cribb Cave
- Ken will share more details about the bat monitoring when they are available
- Mark Daughtridge announced that he hopes to explore lava tubes near Mount Baker and Mount St. Helens.
- Dave Duguid is hoping to return to Busted Turtle in October
Meeting adjourned at 9 PM.