General Meeting Minutes – June 26, 2018


In attendance: Emily, Carlin, Eric, Ken, Mark, Peter, Jimmy, Hunter, Dan, Dave

Question: How many machetes do you own? Pete comes in as the clear machete expert (with no less than 6), Dan has 3 (one for each hand), and Emily mysteriously has a half of a machete.



  • Pay your dues! Starting in July the price goes down. If you don’t know if you paid, go ahead and pay (… or ask Martin).
  • Upcoming programs include a stint by Diana next month on an unknown but sure-to-be enthralling topic. August promises a surveying extravaganza. Every wonder about how to prepare for an overnight caving trip? Ask Mike McBride in September. Join us for a Halloween party in October where odds are there will be at least one item with a bat on it. In November, Pete will enchant the group with an unknown topic. If there is ever a need, the NSS has webinars that we could resort to for programs, including one about splints for fractures, another about how ropes are made, another about TN caves.
  • BugFest is coming up in mid-September. Help the museum (and Pete!) by volunteering at the Orthoptera table.
  • Kim volunteered to host the holiday party this year.


Trip Report (and grotto trip considerations)

Emily, Diana, and Eric went to Gilley’s Cave to scout it out as a possible location for this year’s annual grotto trip. The cave is in Pennington Gap, VA, which is about 5 hours from Raleigh. Gilley’s is owned by the Appalachian Cave Conservancy and has a gate that needs to be unlocked. Unfortunately, it has a lot of graffiti and broken formations, but it also holds beautiful popcorn, crystals, and gypsum.  Lots of waterfalls as well. The cave itself was mostly walking passage, and all crawls (some of which were tight) were voluntary. Further into the cave, there was a lot of breakdown. The cave offers about 4.5 miles of mapped cave to explore.

Gilley’s can probably hold 18-20 people, and Emily is currently looking into an overflow cave option.

Where to camp? Natural Tunnel campground is only 0.5 hr from the cave, but the primitive group campsite (which still has water and a shelter) only holds 12 people. Additional campsites are 0.5 mils away. There is camping in Bristol potentially.

Pete posed the question of potentially returning to the Rass site from the last annual grotto trip and do different caves. This would require getting permission to enter Porter’s again. The larger shelter would come in handy if it rained.

Ken suggested that we will have a sign in sign out list at the cave entrance.


Upcoming Trips and Activities

  • June 29 – July 1: Survey trip in Smith county, possibly Rail Valley. (Contact Carlin for information) The railroad tracks are about 30 ft away, you feel it if you are in the cave. Original survey had ~800 ft (not the best quality). There is a blowing lead that goes into darkness and extends into limestone so it has potential. It’s a horizontal trip. Plan to get damp as you go in, have some extra dry layers. Ken found 6 leads the last time, he might not be able to follow unless they are dug out a bit.
  • July 2: Eric may take his daughter up to the bat house and go caving
  • July 7: Gilley cave graffiti cleanup (will try and document the graffiti since some of it is really old, 1800s)
  • July 7: Carlin going to the bat ranch and may go to Smoke Hole. It’s tie dye weekend.
  • Later July: Ken wants to do a photography trip
  • July 28 – Aug 4: NSS Convention (MT)
  • Aug 17 – 19: Mark might do a small Low Moor beginner’s trip
  • Aug 24 – 26: Annual TriTrogs Grotto Trip
  • Aug 30 – Sept 3: OTR (WV)
  • Sept 22 – 23: Fall VAR New River Junction, Blacksburg, VA
  • Sept 22: Bats, beer, and bluegrass hosted by the Southeastern Cave Conservancy. Chickamauga, GA
  • Sept 28 – 30 Fall into the Gorge (KY). Limited space. $20 to attend. Camping, kayaking, rappelling, and cave surveying.
  • Nov 10: Darwin Day at NC Museum of Natural Sciences



Kim: Everything you never wanted to know about Cave Salamanders