General Meeting Minutes – September 25, 2018


In attendance:

Emily, Rachel, Eric, Zeke, Mark, Michael, Julie, Carlin, Diana, Peter, Vardell, Joani, Kim

When asked what animal we would like to see in a cave, the group answered with its usual variety and extravagance. Pack mules, narwhals, Robin (from Batman, clearly), sasquatch (who wouldn’t want to see him anywhere?), dragon, giant isopods, luminescent animals, olms, unicorns, cave rats (so cool!), spiders like in an Indiana Jones movie, a wish-granting monkey, and a turtle that could be rescued this time around.



  • BugFest: rescheduled for October 20th. Unfortunately, Pete will be out of town that weekend and will not be able to attend. He is still looking for volunteers for the Orthoptera table.
  • Darwin Day: November 10th. This will be a more subdued version than BugFest (think earthworms!) but volunteers are still welcome.
  • Upcoming programs: 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.


Trip Reports

Mike McBride travelled near and far (from AZ to TX to WV) and stopped in a few caves along the way. Wave Cave, near Phoenix, was so named for a sand stone rock with a wave-shaped rock near the entrance. Sex Cave, near Austin, was so named… er. Sex Cave, near Phoenix, had fresh flowstone and draperies that were within the sunlight from the entrance. In total there may have been a full 60ft of cave. Goat Cave was mysteriously named as there was no goats in the cave. It was within a karst management area. Rock Cave, in WV did at least have rocks, although in a creepily symmetric layout and a super smooth entrance. It was way back on someone’s property and was maybe 80ft by 30ft. There was a huge round boulder about 300 ft by 40 ft.

Also saw multiple starlings working together to tear apart and eat bats.


Mark, Emily, Ken, Mike, and Lisa ventured out to OTR to check out some of the WV caves.

Hamilton has about 4.5 miles, though it may have only been 4.5 ft tall for most of the route they took through the cave.  At the first junction, they decided to go right and encountered a lot of crawling and tight spaces (maybe left would have been better?). The cave was laid out in a grid pattern with most of the passages perpendicular, making it relatively easy to find your way back to the entrance. The downside was that there were a lot of balloons hanging from stalactites. New Trout was a very different cave despite being very close to Hamilton. Even the dirt was a different color and the air a different temperature.

Mark returned to Sinks of Gandy. Because of the recent rains, the group was in water the entire time, but luckily there was almost no gear to decon.

Surveying on Stillhouse Cave continued, with Emily, Ken, Mike, Lisa, and about 15 others participating in the efforts, splitting up into 3 groups of 5 each. Emily ended up in a group with a visually impaired surveyor and Katie on sketching. They were tackling a resurvey, asking if a particular stream went somewhere. Emily is not sure they figured out an answer.


The Rail Valley survey is complete, though Carlin wants to return one last time to revisit the blowing hole that has decent potential. The problem is that investigating the lead would require breaking some rocks. With the hole being 6 ft up, you can easily chimney up to check it out but it poses a problem for rock breaking, especially since the worst rocks are in the ceiling. It may be dangerous to dislodge those without the proper purchase. Although the dig is close to the entrance (maybe 100 ft), you would still have to carry any tools along the ¾ mile hike to the cave itself. Other interesting mystery that is left unsolved is the liquor cabinet: it is noticeably colder there, with air movement that cannot be pinpointed.

After finishing at the cave, they stayed at Tanya’s with some other cavers. Carlin drove Terry out to Radon Cave at 10 pm and it started pouring as soon as they got there, but he still went and was back in time for breakfast.

They also did some ridge walking, but this time of year everything is rather overgrown. They did spot a spring coming out of a 4-5ft cliff, but there were no obvious caves. Carlin would love to investigate some of the other springs along Holston River and explore the dips in the topo maps.


Diana, Eric, Rachel, Andy, and Jess attended Fall VAR and spent about 8 hours underground in New River Cave. Tuxedo proved to be a bit tight (especially for Andy) and the meat grinder brought out the requisite barrel rolls.


Upcoming Trips and Activities

  • Sept 28 – 30: Fall into the Gorge. Kayaking, caving, rappelling. $20. Run by KY Karst Conservancy
  • Sept 28 – 29: Fall MAR (PA)
  • Oct 4 – Oct 7 TAG Fall Cave-in (GA)
  • Oct 20: rescheduled BugFest
  • Nov 3 – 4: Scott Hollow Photo Trip
  • Nov 10: Darwin Day
  • Dec 8 Holiday Party



Mike McBride regaled the group with stories over overnight caving and how to pack appropriately.