General Meeting Minutes – November 28, 2017


In attendance: Pete, Mark “The Chalk”, Ken, Michael, Carlin, Emily, Natalie, Mike, Dave, Zeke, and Mark “The Talk”


  • Peter’s trip report from the annual grotto trip was submitted to RASS; some day the rest of us might get to read it.
  • We received a certificate for buying an engraved brick as a donation to the NSS headquarters.
  • We’re throwing a grotto holiday party. There might be a slack line and an accordion, but people should come anyway. Someone will resend the signup email.
  • Zeke is now NSS member #68716! Congratulations, Zeke!

Trip Reports

  • Almost caving: Michael’s girlfriend recommended Bowden Cave, having been there many years ago. They got there to discover it’s been closed.
  • Almost connecting: Mike participated in a dig in the Complaint section in Butler Cave, hauling rock out of a narrow canyon passage. They were puzzled when Mike found a survey station marked F5 in a pit beyond the squeeze; it failed to match the location of the F5 in the old records. As it turns out, a few years’ worth of metric surveying needs to be converted. On the bright side, correcting the old numbers will lengthen the cave.
  • Almost fitting: Michael’s first visit to Hancock Cave exceeded his expectations. He got to see a lot of the cave but was forced to surrender to the Funnel Tunnel. He settled for photographing fossils and a long-dead bat while listening to the gleeful cries that emerged from the other side of the belly crawl. After watching others tackle the awkwardness of the Comic Book Hole, Michael chose to forego that experience in favor of his role as videographer. He’d like to go back and bounce around in the Breakdown Staircase area.
  • Almost memorable: Natalie couldn’t recall as many details about her group’s visit to Hancock Cave, but she does remember spotting two live bats, which is great since we call it the Hancock Cave bat count and graffiti cleanup. Speaking of graffiti, she discovered that boot soles excel at carrying extra mud that can be used to mask etched signatures. So does Ken’s face. Although she found the Funnel Tunnel exciting, the Breakdown Staircase was Natalie’s favorite part of the trip. Read Ken’s trip report here.
  • Almost comfortable: Mark’s group also approached the Funnel Tunnel in Hancock Cave. After some cajoling, even the most nervous new caver made it through and they were all rewarded by the pretty decorations beyond.
  • Almost surveying: A group returned to SnoCone Cave with five 4-foot segments of scaling pole and good intentions of surveying beyond a long wet crawl. A hundred feet from the entrance they took the opportunity to check out a high lead above some flowstone. After assembling three of the sections, Mark climbed to the top but still couldn’t reach his target. The scaling pole then bent and quickly deposited Mark on top of Carlin who, having drawn the short straw, was minding the bottom of the pole. No one was injured, but the survey couldn’t go on. At that point they left the cave and did some ridge walking which, even in hunting season, seemed safer than scaling poles.
  • The day after the SnoCone adventure, the group surveyed about 300 feet in Radon Cave. The entrance feature is a blowing, very tight crawl. There’s another 100 feet or so to survey before a traverse and then the back section of the cave reportedly opens up. Some existing rigging, likely from 1990, clearly needs to be replaced. Carlin retrieved the cave registry which was last used in 1995.

Upcoming Trips and Activities

  • Dec. 5 – NSS CaveNet webinar about ropes
  • Dec. 9 – grotto holiday party
  • Dec. 30-31 – Old Year’s caving trip (Ken)
  • Jan. 20 – Smyth County survey (Dave)
  • Apr. 21 – Grand Caverns restoration
  • Apr. 27-29 – Spring VAR at Hungry Mother State Park


Peter gave a fascinating presentation about cave biology!