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.

Howard Holgate, Bryce Schoeder, Janell Lovelace, Mike Broome, Lisa Lorenzin, Hayden Holgate, Matt Westlake, Mark Little, Matt Spears, Mike Dooley, and Ken Walsh were in attendance. Howard ran the meeting quickly, so the minutes are short.

Mike announced the new web hosting and photo gallery is up on the new service and the old site at rtpnet is now redirecting.

Howard is still building the sign to place outside the museum.

The Region Record lists a proposal to save a population of the endangered Virginia Big-Eared Bats and is looking for donations. Mike Broome will contact Bob Hoke and establish a link on our site to notify members.

Bryce, Howard, Ken and Mark talked about the survey trip to Flat Ridge Cave and the Potato Bin. Good formations were found, but the caves don’t appear to join. Spiders in the cave were delicious treats because the Sugar Grove Diner is closed while the town is without a water supply. Howard recommends not eating Mexican food before caving. We also found a 72-inch-diameter pipe that leads 100 feet into a cave entrance. The pipe protects the road above from the cave spring.

Old Timers Reunion (Labor Day weekend) will include entrance cleanup trips, and the Fall VAR wil be held in Middletown, Virginia on September 25-27. Many upcoming trips (Boone’s Cave wrapup, Lover’s Leap Cave survey, and Cribb Cave sport trip) did not have firm dates established, so we may need to do a member survey to get some dates set to coordinate. Ken shared notes about Lovers Leap and Mike about Cribb Cave, an easy dry maze with more than 8000 feet of passage.

After a short break, Bryce Schroeder shared an excellent program about his exploration in Lava Beds National Monument.

John Plyler invited everyone to a hike down to Crabtree Creek after the meeting.

Vice Chair Howard Holgate began the meeting with introductions: Howard Holgate, Hayden Holgate, Ken Walsh, Giselle Lõpez, Sam Garvey, Bryce Schroeder, John Plyler, Melanie McCullough, and Mark Daughtridge were all in attendance.

Howard announced that the sign for outside the museum would likely be constructed in July, but the labor negotiations seem to still be underway.

Ken shared Mike Broome’s announcements about the web transition. They included the switch to Tiger Technologies, the move of the list serve, the reposting of the Photo Gallery (hooray), and the Facebook page (try

Before the trip reports, we recapped that Hancock Cave is closed due to the likely sighting of WNS there. Mark D. encouraged new attendees to send money for research and learn more.

Ken shared a long trip report about his survey trip to Worley’s Cave with Dave Duguid and Tanya McLaughlin. The highlights include very thin layers of separation between the diagonal layers, a long easy dig, a climb up the waterfall, bootsucking mud, and stubbon horses. Speaking of stubborn, Dave Duguid turned a 2-foot-deep cave into a fifteen-foot tube through sheer determination.

Mark Daughtridge waited until after the presentation to share a trip report about his trip to Seneca and Stratosphere Caverns. [ed: Because he was using this computer to show photos, I don’t have any notes about this]

Howard also mentioned the upcoming cave trips:
–Boones Cave on June 28 with Dave Duguid
–Ken suggested that the Hancock Cave surface cleanup trip be postponed due to the WNS issue
–Karst-o-Rama will be held in Kentucky this weekend
–NSS convention held in July
–Ken may try to organize a sport trip for July 18, and Bryce and Howard expressed interest in going along.

John Plyler mentioned that his proposed trip to Lechuguilla Cave was cancelled before it began because the National Park turned down his application for a service project.

After the break, Bryce Schroeder shared his slides from a trip to the caves in the Marble Mountains in California.

Dave Duguid apologized for starting the meeting a bit late and began the meeting with introductions: Mike Broome, Maddy, Kevin, Diana Gietl, Howard Holgate, John Plyler, Ken Walsh, TJ Smith, Warren Pusak, Mark Daughtridge, and Mark Little were also in attendance.

Mark Little continued collecting funds for the NSS White Nose Syndrome Rapid Response Fund. [In total the Triangle Troglodytes donated $460 from their month-long campaign.]

Mike Broome announced that the new web site is up and running. He has been working on restoring the photo gallery but is being too picky about how the old photos should be organized [his own claim]. It was suggested that he examine the amount of hair to determine the age of the photos. He will share the new password for the photo gallery site when he is ready. He also plans to install plugins that will let you link to Flicker to Picassa sites and upload your photos directly.

Howard Holgate announced that he will start working on the new sign to put outside the museum in July. Dave and Howard promised to get back on the stick with regard to programs. They will get the programs listed on the web page send out notices. When Ken suggested a program about lamp maintenance, the electric cavers joked about just banging it on the ground until it worked again.

Mike Broome and Diana Gietl had spoken about caving to Venture Crew 469, and that was successful for trying to understand what people new to caving might ask.

Warren, Kevin, Matty, and Ken went with Venture Crew 469 for a trip to Atwells Tunnel Cave in Smyth County. Unfortunately Maddy took a spill at the entrance before she went inside and cut her hand. The crew members especially enjoyed the freedom to explore rather than just follow a leader through the cave and would like to go again. Ken remained informative during the trip, and Warren discovered why we wear helmets.

Diana visited natural bridges and an impressive sea cave in Capri. She also went shopping for cave harnesses in Italy and discovered one for a frog system that allows the wearer to undo the delta in the front to stand up straight while in the harness.

Mike and Lisa went up to the BCCS property over Memorial Day weekend and listened to the discussions about the BCCS position on the WNS situation. BCCS voted to adopt the Virginia guidelines.

Ken then described that Matt, Linda, Christian, Gordon, and Brian had recently discovered a fungal growth on bats in Hancock Cave. They reported it to Ken, and he passed on the information to the landowner, Virginia cave specialist, Virginia bat biologist, and VSS county director. The state workers collected pipistrelle samples a few days later and sent them to Madison, Wisconsin for laboratory testing. When discussing WNS later, one suggestion about vertical gear was to dedicate a rope to exploration in a particular cave.

Upcoming trips (with more details on the web site) include:
SERA Summer Cave Carnival—May 29-31
Hancock Cave Cleanup—put on hold based on the bat situation
Worley’s Cave—Dave Duguid (June 5)
Karst-o-Rama—still on (June 26-28)
NSS Convention in Texas in July
Boone’s Cave wrap up—June 28 (Dave Duguid shared a new rumor about the road fill leaking into the cave)
John Plyler planned to propose a service project at Lechuguilla Cave and it was discussed briefly.

Side discussions included using Mr. Bubble for stream tracing and having a grotto program teaching people how to be calm in a rescue litter.

Howard Holgate opened the meeting with introductions: Diana Gietl, Mike Broome, Lisa Lorenzin, John Plyler, Howard Holgate, Ken Walsh, Melanie McCullough, Pete Hertl, Warren Pusak, and two Venture scouts (Kevin P. and Madeline C.).

Howard instructed members to check the Secretary blog for minutes from the Officers Meeting. He also shared the statement from the officers about the April WNS collection:
“Along with the April presentation the TriTrogs will begin their matching collection for the NSS White Nose Syndrome Rapid Response Fund. The TriTrog officers have agreed to match up to $200 of the donations from individuals. The collection will run from the April meeting through the May meeting. This plan resulted after discussion about our budget, charitable donations from the grotto, and matching gifts from corporations. The officers decided to hold off on further helmet and lamp purchases because several members have volunteered their extra gear.”

Mike indicated that the Web site transition has been on the agenda since last year [Ed: actually I found it on the May 2006 agenda]. Mike began transitioning to Tiger Technologies as the new server with more space and room for the photo gallery. The mailing list will be moving to the new hosting site (@tritrogs domain) over the next month. Mike plans to introduce all the cool new things in April, and some are posted in the officers meeting minutes.

Lisa and Mike talked about their trip digging in a sinkhole. One wall was frozen gravel, similar to concrete. They dug down ten feet, and it was still frozen gravel. They dug down twelve feet, and the hole needs some shoring. They are digging at the hole not based on air flow but based on the location relative to other caves. The theory is that they got below the frost line where frozen gravel should have stopped, but the cave was still elusive.

John Plyler agreed to host a vertical training/pot luck on April 11 in Raleigh to celebrate the end of hibernation season. More details to follow.

Howard listed the upcoming trips, and others are expected when hibernation season ends:
Easter Grand Caverns Conservation Weekend—April 11-12
Spring VAR—April 24-26 at Grand Caverns
NSS Convention and International Congress of Speleology in Kerrville, TX– July 19-26
Boones Cave wrap up—contact Dave Duguid for dates
Grotto trip—September 19-20

Ken shared photos from the photography trip that Mark Little, Ericka Hoffmann, and he took to Fountain Cave and Grand Caverns. He shared some of his fuzzy shots and explained that his focusing skills improved tremendously when he removed the polarizing lens from the camera. He’ll share the photos on the photo gallery when it re-opens.

Prompted by questions from the Venture Crew, members responded to queries about cave clothing, helmets, lamps, food, and other gear.

After the break, Diana Gietl shared the Exploris presentation she gave several years back that includes a good number of her amazing cave photographs. It covers concepts like why we study caves, why we protect caves, and where we find them. Howard described how gunpowder is made from guano with a detailed description of saltpeter processing.

We then entertained suggestions about how to set up a program to share with outside groups:
1) put the pits at the end because the caves should get harder as you go through the presentation
2) include the web site in the slides at the beginning and end
3) explain how some of the formations grow
4) show the words beside some formations
5) include cave fauna (Pete Hertl may have some photos to share)
6) describe activities like digging, surveying, and conservation
7) include more photos from regional caves
8) share photos of a properly clad caver, before and after a trip (maybe even at the car wash)

Howard Holgate, Dave Duguid, Mark Little, Mike Broome, and Ken Walsh all enjoyed Guinness and pizza.

Dave first reviewed the action items from the last meeting. We have interconnections at the meeting place fast enough to support video links and WebEx. Howard has the sandwich board underway, and it should be ready blank by next month. Ken will contact Steve Simmons about ways we might attract Venture Scouts to the TriTrogs (and ask him about bringing the Vliminator to the August pool party).

With a few asides about outreach efforts, the conversation eventually turned to fully developing a calendar for 2009 programs. The TriTrog officers presented ideas for each of the upcoming meetings through November and will follow up with the speakers. December will mark the 20th Anniversary celebration for the TriTrogs. We will post the calendar when the officers have confirmed with the speakers.

On March 24 Howard will present the slides we once shared at an Exploris event. He will be seeking input from the grotto members about ways to share it as a canned presentation to other groups, such as a lunchtime presentation at Cisco or NetApp.

April will likely feature a discussion about bats and their threats. Dave and Howard are inviting several bat experts (e.g., Melissa Miller and the museum bat specialists). Along with the April presentation the TriTrogs will begin their matching collection for the NSS White Nose Syndrome Rapid Response Fund. The TriTrog officers have agreed to match up to $200 of the donations from individuals. The collection will run from the April meeting through the May meeting. This plan resulted after discussion about our budget, charitable donations from the grotto, and matching gifts from corporations. The officers decided to hold off on further helmet and lamp purchases because several members have volunteered their extra gear.

We briefly discussed outreach issues (bulletin boards, REI caving classes, college recruitment, etc.), but those discussions were tabled until we published our calendar and finished the canned presentation.

Members should look for changes to the web site now that the Tiger Technologies site is set up. Mike will be setting up an area to post upcoming programs as well as presentations from meetings past.

Howard also suggested that the web site should show photographs about how exactly to find our meeting room. Members should volunteer to help or look forward to an interesting production.

The photo gallery will be a priority for Mike to put up, but he’s not sure the folders will be associated with the archived photos. Mike will also handle posting events like regional and national events on the Google calendar when they’re posted in the NSS News. He’ll also fix the links on the new FAQs page, post the membership forms on the web sites, and add some links to the WNS info pages.

Ken will work on content for a web page describing the officers and providing contact information (probably through alias addresses for each officer). Mike will let the members know what other content he’s looking for.

The officers tentatively set the weekend of September 19-20 as the time for the grotto trip. Ken suggested that we consider a visit to Culverson Creek Cave during that dry season. We also talked about scheduling other trips in advance.

Ken is also looking into a Celebration to the End of Hibernation season on April 11. Hopefully the local party will include vertical work.

Ken Walsh, Dave Duguid, Mark Little, Hayden and Howard Holgate, TJ Smith, and Mark Daughtridge were in attendance. Before the meeting Howard discovered that the internet connections in the museum were 5 Megabits down, 1.5 Megabits up and thus video capable. We could connect long-distance speakers to our meetings, even in Antarctica.

Discussion turned to the purchase of new lamps and helmets, an item that was dropped from last year’s agenda when someone had promised a donation. After talking about the types of lamps that we thought beginners could rent, Howard agreed to price them out and give costs at the next meeting. We also opened up the possibility that we could purchase used gear directly from members.

Another previous purchase approved was the book Cave Minerals of the World, and Dave plans to purchase it for the grotto library. The grotto also thanked Dave and Sandy Duguid for hosting a great holiday party with lots of delicious food.

Mike Broome plans to transition the web hosting to Tiger Technologies when he returns from Greece. He has also posted a Frequently Asked Questions page to the grotto web pages; hopefully he will fix the links that now point to Ken asked that any members with comments share them with him.

Ken also suggested that the FAQ page be spiced up with some doodles or cartoons. Ken will contact Barbi Bailey-Smith for some drawings.

Hayden proposed that the grotto should produce bumper stickers and magnets again. This item will go on the agenda for the next general or officers meeting.

To make the meeting location seem more inviting, the TriTrog officers have chosen to begin leaving a greeter or two at the door as well as set up a sign near Jones Street. Howard promised to spend two months preparing a white sandwich board sign, and the members discussed the appropriate size that could be brought to the meetings as well as to caving events. Then the ideas started flying (LED lights, bonfires, stenccilling, motion sensors, and the need for NORAD approval).

Mark also introduced a discussion about finding a new location to meet, and he asked the members to look for other locations that could compete with the museum.

Howard mentioned that he is working on a new presentation that can be shared with other groups and businesses in an effort to grow the membership.

TJ mentioned the 1000-foot Clinch River overlook in Breaks Interstate Park where he’s working to get access to unexplored caves.

Ken shared a cave trip report written by Linda Waters-Lindqvist. She described a volcanic origin to the cave with an icy floor. The only decorations came from penguin poo, and elephant seals guarded the entrance.

Upcoming Trips
–Ken is planning a cave photography trip to Fountain Cave from March 7-8.
–Spring VAR April 24-26
–SERA—May ??
–Spring VAR April 24-26 at Grand Caverns
–Easter Grand Caverns Conservation Weekend—April 11-12
–NCRC Weeklong training—May 1-9 in Harrisonburg, VA
–Dave plans to survey Boones Cave and produce a map for the kiosk that gets constructed (hopefully the map will list
–Grotto trip
–NSS Convention and International Congress of Speleology in Kerrville, TX– July 19-26
–Blevins, Worleys, and Rowlands Spring Caves still need surveying in Smyth County, Virginia—interested members should contact Ken or Dave

Mark Daughtridge mentioned that rock climbers use an online meetup group and suggested the cavers consider using their methods for setting a class and then going on a trip to use what one learns. He might be able to promote the event on the meetup group if it would be of interest to the climbers.

Howard will organize a TriTrog lunch in RTP some time in the near future.

Before closing, members shared some thoughts about White Nose Syndrome.

Mark Little, Dave Duguid, Howard Holgate, and Ken Walsh were in attendance. Some members find the 7:30 PM general meeting time to be difficult, but I-40 rush hour traffic in the eastbound direction prevents an earlier start time. Discussion will be held at a meeting before the times are changed. However, Dave reiterated his intention to begin the meetings on time.

The officers discussed the possibility of moving the meeting place somewhere else in the Triangle. However, no other place in the Triangle came to mind that would have the same desirable qualities found in the Museum location. The officers think that the meeting place needs to feel more welcoming above the surface. Howard is going to ask a member to build a sandwich board that we can sit near the street before meetings and maybe even include LED lights to make the sign easy to see. We will also start asking a member or two to stay upstairs and act as greeters for possible new members.

Discussion turned to programs for the coming year. With more coordination at this challenging task, the topics can be announced at the previous meeting, across the list serve, and on the web page. Some officers proposed that programs should be aimed toward attracting and sticking new people to the grotto. These two programs would include geology, flora, and fauna. Other topics include the exploratory cave dive videos (e.g., Wakulla Springs), materials from the NSS Library, open forum, blasting, and conservation.

Outreach was the next subject of discussion, beginning with an identification of key demographics that might be attracted to caving as a sport and where to find them (e.g., Cisco). Grotto activities would be considered a good socialization for young people, and Howard suggested that a canned program could be presented with these groups.

The officers also discussed advertising across the web by sharing external links with other local outdoors groups (e.g., rock climbing groups, Carolina Canoe Club, Sierra Club, cycling clubs, outdoors stores, and BOK). A way to get more hits on the web page would be to say “Cave locations” and then follow it with “…are not disclosed on the web. Come to our meeting.”

Discussion then turned to participation on trips. Several alternatives were discussed (family trips, combining trips with the Virginia Creeper Trail or other activities, and alternative departure times). These activities could be improved with college leaders and people hoping to excite their children about the outdoors. It may even be possible to recruit people at activities such as the Eno River Festival.

Action Items
· Howard will test the internet speed at the next meeting to understand if streaming the meetings would be possible.
· Howard will ask a member to build a sandwich board to place outside before meetings.
· Ken will try to identify a graphic artist to help us design the sandwich board message.
· Dave will work on a program presentation that describes how running a kids trip is different than one for adults, including items such as the parent:child ratio and picking an appropriate cave.
· Dave will repeat his cave diving presentation at some point this year. Perhaps scuba groups would also be interested in attending that meeting.
· Ken will contact Steve Simmons about ways to reach out to Venture scouts who are looking for outdoor activities outside the scouting groups.

Agenda Items that Were Not Discussed
· Membership (spending funds on sure advertising and monetary incentives)
· Green/environmental activities
· Vertical training sessions
· Claiming long weekends for cave trips
· Web site improvements (showing larger presence, FAQs, contact names, and listing upcoming trips)
· Grotto donation to the NSS White Nose Syndrome Fund

Introductions were skipped because everyone already knew one another.

Mark Little led discussion on the Annual Treasurer’s Report. He discussed the undeposited funds from the grotto trip (corrected by Mike) and how we spent slightly more than we took in due to charitable donations.

Ken Walsh mentioned that he spoke to a Cary Boy Scout troop in January. They planned to head out for the wild cave tour in Mammoth Cave over the MLK weekend. Dave Duguid mentioned that Organ Cave also gives wild tours.

Memberships are up for renewal, so everyone was encouraged to re-up. $15 for individual members.

Mike Broome announced that the web hosting transition would serve as his 2009 platform when he ran for editor/webmaster.

The National Cave and Karst Research Institute (NCKRI) is building its staff by hiring a director to establish, lead, and coordinate their Education Program. Anyone interested in the position should contact Ken for more details.

Mike Broome agreed to check with Keith Wheeland about how to deliver the TriTrog blogs as records of annual publications.

Ken announced that Hamilton Cave in Pendleton County, West Virginia had shown signs that White Nose Syndrome has reached that southern extent. [The bat count on January 30 confirmed that the cave is showing clear signs of a WNS outbreak, including five dead bats found on the trail to the cave entrance] The Guilday Cave Preserve (Trout Rocks) is closed to cavers until further notice.

Some discussion led to the conclusion that the TriTrogs should decline to participate at Wiley Elementary School’s Science Night this year. Caves don’t really fit easily into this year’s theme of Air.

Dave Duguid described the New Years weekend trip to Marion with Ken Walsh, Mark Daughtridge, and Tanya McLaughlin. While rescuing coon dogs, Tanya had met the daughter of a cave landowner who wanted to descend into the pit on their property. She led the group out to the cave entrance where they encountered another group exiting the cave with a rudimentary sketch. Because of the late hour to the day, the group instead surveyed horizontal Cotton Cave with a 2-foot wide entrance. They left one 30-foot-high lead up a flowstone slope for another trip. The return trip at night was riddled by briars when the landowner’s daughter turned too early.

The next day the group found Fasell Cave, marked it on the GPS, and left because there was just 25 feet to see. The group then mapped Ward Saltpeter Cave completely. They then went to The Flat behind the door in Flat Ridge and surveyed its two leads. The survey ended Saturday evening at two smaller leads.

On Sunday that group went back to Worley’s Cave in Smyth County after six years away. The cave is really wide and slopes down 25 degrees. The group began survey from the streambed and then headed up hill to the back area with the monorail worms.

Ken began a trip report about his next trip to Smyth County with Mark Daughtridge, Tanya McLaughlin, Justin Noia, and Hannah. Because the 1952 map of Roberts Cave was just compass and pace, Ken, Mark, and Tanya began resurveying the cave o Saturday morning. After a good lunch at Smokey’s Barbecue, Mark and Ken joined Justin and Hannah over at Hancock Cave. They stopped at the second Toilet Bowl because of the scare factor and headed instead toward the Long Room. Back there Justin and Mark squirmed into the hole high in the wall, much to Hannah and Ken’s amusement. Mark finished the trip report by describing the Echo Chamber, the inch-thick false floor, his squeeze at the low end of the formations, the white isopod, roots that were mistaken for iron, a virgin room that is not shown on the map and pure white formations beyond that, Hannah’s recognition of the Octopus Room, 23-degree weather outside the cave, and good Mexican food.

The following day Mark, Tanya, and Ken went back to Worley’s Cave. Mark mentioned that racing through the entrance room avoided a disgusting experience. The sandwich of the 18-inch high crawl didn’t bother Tanya at all, and the group surveyed to the waterfall. Three leads went out from the waterfall room, but the short survey didn’t get the group back into the main passage. Mark got lessoned about how to set surveyed stations, and Tanya learned not to wash hers in the waterfall. Mark discovered that the black formations up the waterfall were merely mud, but the shelves and Ken’s shoulder let him climb to the top to find some leads and a second waterfall. Worley’s Cave now seems to be getting quite mazy.

Mike Broome described the trip he and Lisa Lorenzin took to Basswood Cave. They stayed with Keith Wheeland and spent three days digging with chemical persuasion, but Mike still doesn’t fit. On the first trip he learned to use a mechanical ascender to pull the muddy rope attached to the sled, and he drilled and set charges on the second trip. Lisa had squeezed through and sketched the room she found, but the multiple ledges kept others from joining her. Lisa’s helmet cam was underlit, and the weather outside was incredibly cold.

Now Mike Broome is looking for an excuse to buy a hammer drill.

Mark Daughtridge mentioned that he did two commercial tours of Mammoth Cave over the holidays.

TJ Smith shared photos from his family trip at New Years to Hardin’s Cave (Junkyard Cave). His six-year-old nephew loves having his photos taken. After a short crawl they spent most of the time in a newer section discovered during the survey of this formerly sacrificial cave.

After a break, there was quick discussion about the upcoming trips:
February 6—Grand Caverns
February 20—vertical trip to Smyth County
Easter—Grand Caverns restoration weekend
Spring VAR
Boone’s Cave
Weeklong NCRC in Virginia
SERA Summer Cave Carnival in May
Breaks Park in icy Virginia

Elections were held, and the members unanimously elected Dave Duguid for Chair, Howard Holgate for Vice Chair, Mike Broome for Editor/Webmaster, Mark Little for Treasurer, and Ken Walsh for Secretary.

Dave Duguid welcomed the fourteen members to the last grotto meeting of the year.

TriTrog membership dues for 2009 will be collected again for all members in January.

The issues associated with web hosting had not yet been resolved, but Mike Broome was working on them while the meeting was going on. Mike had contacted Tiger support about transitioning our existing site to the new system. Tiger would prefer that the whole system be transferred to their system, following their step-by-step instructions. Issues would be simplified if anything went wrong, and there is no financial difference between the choices. Fortunately we have not received two bills for the same services this year.

Dave Duguid will host the holiday party on December 6. It will once again be a pot luck celebration, and Dave encourages carbide pumpkins but hesitated at the mention of song books. Ken will roast a turkey, and others are encouraged to bring appetizers, sides, and desserts. The party will start around 6 PM with food served beginning around 7 PM. Casual dress in a kid-friendly home.

Ken encouraged any members to share any information about 2008 activities of TriTrogs in the areas of exploration, protection, and education. This will be included in the NSS annual corporate report.

John Plyler shared that fellow caver Ed Kehs Jr. had been in a serious car accident. He is in pretty bad shape, and the TriTrogs send him their best wishes.

In terms of trip reports, John Plyler talked about the trip he and Pete Hertl took to OTR. They took second and third places in the ropewalker competition, third place in cable ladder, second place in knots, honorable mention in the obstacle course. When competing in beer drinking speed competitions, they learned to get their face down in the beer, remove the foam, and drink it warm and flat to down it in under two seconds. Pete did not recall where he caved on OTR Friday but did not indicate if the beer drinking influenced his recollections.

Dave Duguid described the digging trip to a North Carolina cave found in a county park. He, Tanya McLaughlin, Linda Waters-Lindqvist, Christian Lindqvist, and Ken Walsh found the first lead into the hillside closed down to an impossibly tight lead. Dave, Linda, and Christian did manage to dig two connections using a hoe, kitty litter buckets, and snow saucers. Dave described that we could dig for eternity in the cave in the loose soil, but it likely will not yield much. Odds are that the cave was not filled by the state as was once rumored.

Dave mentioned that Cato Holler shared the the 1970’s map of the cave, and that and the NSS article from the 1950’s described the same cave that we found. It’s probably not worth digging further in this cave, but we could go up and survey for a high quality map that covers the new connections.

Mike Broome and Lisa Lorenzin went on November 8 to Burnsville Cove with the Butler Cave Conservancy Society. They stayed at the homestead with BCCS members. They entered Basswood Cave at the base of an award-winning tree. Saturday they went in for a dig 10 minutes from the entrance. They microblasted dinner plate-sized rocks. A crawl led 25 feet to a dogleg in a thin crevice from 5 to 7 inches wide. They felt huge amounts of air blowing and stayed in the cave from 11 AM to 11 PM. There is another low lead down a cable ladder. Lisa bellycrawled through 2 inches of water for 20 feet to the turnaround point. Forty or fifty feet further she could have wiggled her chest through but had to turn around. They microblasted with soda straws and black powder. Two drills ran through the batteries pretty fast, but they could recharge at Nevin’s house just outside the entrance. The sounds they liked to hear while microblasting were “Woomph, crumple, crumple, crumple.”

Dave mentioned the possible upcoming trips to Boone’s Cave or the first weekend in January.

After the break, TJ Smith shared Jody Bailey’s presentation on their weeklong class of Level 1 certification from the National Cave Rescue Commission.