Who are the TriTrogs?
The Triangle Troglodytes is a chapter of the National Speleological Society (NSS) organized for cavers in eastern North Carolina. Need to know the difference between cavers, spelunkers, and speleologists? We recommend this link.
Why do TriTrogs cave?
Different reasons include camaraderie, passion for exploration, physical exertion, appreciation for the passage of time, adrenaline rushes, interest in unusual biology, photographic challenges, love of obstacle courses, obsession with ropes, fascination with digging into unknown spaces, the chance to unravel physical mysteries, and appreciation for individuality in a group atmosphere.
I saw a movie where the cavers were all beautiful until monsters ate them. Is this true?
Yes. After our modeling jobs we bring beginners and little sisters along on trips to feed to the creatures.
Are cavers all small, thin adults?
No. Thin people are great at poking into small holes, but heavier folks never seem to get cold in the streams. Short cavers are able to stoop where others crawl, but tall people find many climbs easier. Cavers on TriTrogs trips last year ranged in age from 5 to 81. There’s something for everyone.
What would I see underground?
Something new every time if you pay attention. Cavers with 25 years underground experience still spot new features. From acre-size rooms to tiny crystals, and from deep pits to white isopods.
What obstacles might I face?
Skirting along ledges, waterfall climbs, long crawlways, sliding boards, pools of mud, convoluted twists around rocks, guano piles, ear dips, and keyhole-shaped passages. Save the 800-foot pits in Georgia for when you’re more experienced.
What do I need to go caving?
A team of at least four people, proper equipment, directions, and permission from the landowner.
What is the proper equipment?
• Protective helmet with a chinstrap
• Three independent sources of light (not the same set of batteries for three flashlights) for each person in the group. At least one light source should be attached to the helmet securely.
• Shoes/boots with good treads that you don’t mind messing up
• Adults will really appreciate kneepads
• Gloves to keep your hands clean and uncut
• Clothes that will keep you warm in 50 degree weather even when wet (e.g., thermal underwear)
• High calorie food and water (leave the bananas and sodas at home)
• A small first aid kit and any medications you might need (e.g., inhaler)
• A bag (preferably zipper-free) to carry your food, water, first aid kit, and spare lights
• Trash bag (for keeping warm, removing garbage others left behind, and carrying your dirty clothes home in)
• Clean clothes and shoes for the trip home
Where can I get helmets and lights?
Local outdoors stores are a great resource for rock climbing helmets, which is what is typically worn by cavers. Online stores such as Inner Mountain Outfitters, Karst Sports, or On Rope 1 are caver owned and have good track records. For the new and curious, the TriTrogs also have some gear that we rent out for a couple dollars to cover wear and tear.
Why can’t I find directions to caves online?
Back in the 1980s, the caving community discussed whether or not cave locations should be shared with strangers through electronic media. The consensus came quickly that caves are generally located on private land and should always be considered fragile environments. The caving community encourages visits to caves but only when the caves, their denizens, and their landowners are properly respected. To find caves, join a local grotto and its members will share the directions along with the proper message of respect.
How do I sign up for trips?
The TriTrogs post a calendar but mostly use a mailing list to let members know about upcoming trips. Contact the trip leader and he/she will let you know if the trip is appropriate for your skill level. Some members organize trips that don’t get announced online, so it’s good to meet new cavers.
Why do the TriTrogs hold overnight trips?
Caves worth visiting usually form in karst. Although karst covers 25% of the U.S. terrain, we don’t have much in North Carolina. So we drive to places with serious caves (usually at least a three-hour drive). It’s only a five-hour drive to a West Virginia county that has more than a thousand caves!
How can I learn more?
By coming to our meetings, contacting an officer, or sending mail to the mailing list. Caving is not an internet sport. The TriTrogs also have a library of books and maps.
What is a cave conservancy?
Caves are considered fragile habitats that provide homes to thousands of non-human species. For instance, bats alone represent over 1300 species, about one quarter of the number of species for all mammals. The purpose of the cave conservancies is to protect these unique environments from future land development, permanent closure, or abuse. For example, the mission of the Southeastern Cave Conservancy is “to conserve caves to preserve areas of scenic beauty, provide recreational access and opportunities, protect cultural and biological resources, and support scientific research.”