General Meeting Minutes – July 24, 2018


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.



  • 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



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