General Meeting Minutes – August 28, 2018


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


  • 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 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.



Matthew gave an introduction to cave surveying.