In attendance: Emily, Rachel, Mark Daughtridge, Pete, Kim, Michael McBride, Jason Smythe, Dave, and Ken
Emily brightened up the group by asking what headlamp we use. The consensus was that the group either owns a Zebra or wants one, and Black Diamond and Petzl don’t hold up well in caves. Emily happily sports a Phoenix with a battery pack. Mark supplements his Zebra with a Marble Mountian 900 lumen (great power!), and Mike supplements his Zebra with a Streamlight 900 lumen he picked up for less than $20. Pete is partial to his Nitecore, with the nice feature of having a big button that you can use even if you have gloves on. Kim follows everyone else’s light, and Jason and Dave are in the market.
- Do pay dues! The PayPal link still works, and Martin requested you email him before you pay. Money goes to grotto trip, cave gear, donations, etc.
- Donations: $200 to Appalachian Cave Conservancy (owned cave where we had the grotto trip) also a $50 to the International Association for Geoscience Diversity for access for people with disabilities.
- Darwin day: thank you to the people who helped with Darwin Day (Mark, Peter, Ken, Eric, and Diana). With more than 4,000 people in attendance, it was more than the museum expected.
- The business card stock is mostly depleted. Ken will place an order to replenish since he has previously ordered the business cards.
- This year the holiday party will be hosted by Kim on December 8th, 6:30 pm at 423 S. Riverdale Dr. Bring good cheer, and food. Kim will send out a sign up sheet for food shortly. The building of a squeeze box is a solid maybe.
- Start thinking about nominations for officers next year. Elections will be held at the January meeting. (Reminder: we do not meet in December)
- Rachel signed up TriTrogs for a fence project at Clover Hollow Cave. There is a barbed wire fence in disrepair and it would be nice to put in a few new posts. VPI may be able to get some of their trainees to assist with the project. If there is enough wood, the group could build a stepladder.
Ken, Dan, Hunter, Taylor and Peter scouted Scott Hollow with camera gear in tow. The house on top of the entrance was built by a caver, complete with a trap door to provide access to a culvert that leads to the cave. The passages trends down for a long time, maybe 500 ft, but Pete described it as not too noticeable. The group was underground for about 10 hours and made it down to the lower section with a stream. Since it was a photo trip, there was a decent bit of standing while the photographers worked their magic. Pete got a quick glance at some of Hunter’s shots while he was editing that night. A must see. After shooting, they explored the cave and tackled a challenging climb over flowstone. Ken led onward to some points of interest. Overall, lots of stream walking though luckily the water was mostly shallow.
The next day was a shorted bout through Piercy’s Mill to clean the mud off the cave suits. Not the wade-through-a-shallow stream kind of clean off your boots. Think: chest-deep crossings bordered by muddy banks that required sticks to provide enough purchase to make it up (the discarded sticks at the entrance proved to be indispensable). Ken, ever the excellent leader, forged through the stream first to find the deep spots and submerged rocks. All crossings were successful, with only one unintentional bath that cleaned off Ken’s whole cave suit. The trek was worth the treasure. Piercy’s Mill is a highly ornamented cave with rimstones pools. Some dry, some still retained water, some quite deep. Pete highly recommends going to take a look.
At the end of October, Rachel traveled north to VPI and started with a surveying trip in Culverson Creek Cave to expand some of the upper attic. The next day yielded a sport trip to Maxwelton Sink Cave, accessed near town by an antique shop. Plenty of formations, and the middle of the cave has a rather large canyon. Continuing to Blacksburg, Rachel ventured into Starnes Cave (with so much rain outside, even the chandeliers were dripping) and Pig Hole (a nice pit, saw a beautiful rimstone pool dubbed Queen’s Bath). The next day brought a rappel through a waterfall into Clover Hollow. With a nod to the cold temperatures, they rappelled on the side opposite from the waterfall itself. In some of the pits the bolt placement wasn’t ideal and necessitated some rerigging.
Ken and Emily spent some time ridge walking, following up on report to Tanya from a D.O.T. worker who mentioned that he saw something that might have been a cave. Despite numerous briars for Emily and two ticks for Tanya, no cave was located. On Saturday the hunt for caves continued, this time for caves that had been mapped previously but would benefit from a resurvey. They found the wife of the landowner, then later an uncle that provided a landowner’s cell phone number. Based off Tanya’s topo map, they were able to drive to Big Sink cave, which was visible from the road. The entrance was about half way of the sink and the smell wafted up, the culprit being the abundant animal (raccoon?) feces. Between the miserable condition and the fact that soon-to-be-85-years old was accompanying, they decided to call it a day but not before noting two lucifuga near the entrance.
Mike McBride took a few people who had not caved in a while to Ellison’s Cave. After admiring all the petrified wood, they dropped the warm up pit. There was an unfortunate amount of trash for a cave that is visited many by cavers, though some of it may be wash in. The old rope, batteries, and bolts clearly speaks to caver trash and warrants a clean up effort. Of note, the bats are beginning to return to this cave. Mike reports seeing a significant increase in Little Brown Bats compared to his previous trips.
Upcoming Trips and Activities
- Dec 8: Holiday Party at 423 S. Riverdale Dr. 6:30 pm
- Weekend of Dec 7-9: Rachel will be joining in WVACs festivities and extended an invite to carpool if anyone was interested.
- Possible trip over New Years? Will plan out details at the holiday party.
Pete regaled the group with everything we always wanted to know about cat rats.