Volume 11, Issue 5a
(Experimental Online version)
November 2000


Chair:       Paul Andrews         (919)-598-5154
Vice Chair:  Linda Waters         (919)-489-3073
Editor:      Pete James           (919)-643-0787
Secretaries: Mark & Rhonda Little (919)-319-3055
Treasurer:   Gordon Bolt          (919)-468-1333

Copyright and Disclaimer:

The Troglodyte Tribune (ISSN 1074-7206, copyright 2000 by the Triangle
Troglodytes) is a monthly publication of the Triangle Troglodytes Grotto of
the NSS.  All newsletter articles and correspondence should be directed to
the editor, Pete James, at, or at 2706 Brians Lane,
Hillsborough, NC 27278.  The editor reserves the right to edit material.
Material published (with the exception of our logo) may be reprinted by
internal organizations of the National Speleological Society providing
appropriate credit is given.  The Triangle Troglodytes logo in the heading
of (most newsletters) is the exclusive property of the Triangle Troglodytes
Grotto of the NSS.  Opinions expressed may not necessarily be those of the
grotto or the editor.

Troglodyte Trivia

From the Editor:

This is an experimental electronic newsletter.  There wasn't enough
to print a physical (printed) newsletter this month, but I figured I'd "try
it" with an online version emailed to you.  You'll be getting a printed
(text) copy that is simply an email, with an attachment in Microsoft Works
format that you can try to print (Works is my "normal" editor).  (Sorry,
Works doesn't have a "save as HTML" option, and I'm too lazy to try to
manually set up HTML to go on the web site.)  There's no "Trog logo" at the
top of the page because I manually "cut and paste" it when I'm printing a
print newsletter.  Let me know what you think about this electronic
Troglodyte Trudgings

Let's Do The Scout Trip Again!
by Pete James
Trip dates: 11/10/00 - 11/12/00
Cavers on trip: Pete & Cathy James, Bill Mattocks,
Matt Jenkins, Catherine ?, Gordon Bolt

On Friday we fought our way past an apparently downed power line and other
horrors in western Greensboro.  (HOW many more years until DOT finishes the
Greensboro bypass?)  We continued through Boone and took the back way (NC
105 to NC 184 to NC 194 to US 19E, all together boys and girls) to the
Elizabethton Armory arriving there at 10:40 PM, thinking it late.  While
Bunny (one of the scout leaders), a Scout, and Bill Mattocks had made it
there without problems, Zoey and her gang showed up 10 minutes after we
Turns out they had dodged multiple accidents including one on 421 east of
Boone (we never saw this one), and got lost attempting to do the same back
route we used without incident.  (They found icicles at the side of the
road - in general, this was a very cold weekend, with lows below freezing
both nights.)  Shortly after that, I went to bed in our usual classroom
"bedroom."  Cathy awoke me returning from a bathroom break at 1 AM, telling
me that Gordon, Matt, and Catherine had just arrived.  (I would learn later
that they can't blame traffic -- they didn't leave Cary 'til 8 PM.)

Saturday morning, we met the rest of the folks and had the usual breakfast
of fruit, vegetables, bagels, oatmeal, etc.  We set up the Girl Scouts with
their helmets and lights, noting the Scout leadership had splurged and
upgraded the Scouts to Petzl Zooms (which use 3 AA batteries).  Once the
helmets and lights were prepared, off we went to Renfro Cave.  We split
two groups (there were more than enough cavers to keep everyone happy) and
in I went in the second group.  What's this in the entrance slope?  A
mini-mag?  And when I asked, no one from either group claims it?  Finders
keepers.  We saw many bats in the cave, removed quite a bit of trash, and
did the usual wander about through the climb ups and climb downs and having
a lot of fun with the Scouts.  We exited the cave around noon.  (Neither of
us had any light problems for a change.  My Tag-Lite 2 was working fine.)

We returned to the Armory and had sandwiches for lunch.  Gordon was having
problems with his light and battery that had the same connectors as my
Tag-Lite 2 so I brought in my battery and tried it with his light, which
worked.  He fiddled and fiddled with his obviously bad battery, trying to
fix the connections.  I had this horrific vision of him opening the battery
case and loads of goopy lead acid dripping on the gym floor, but
fortunately, this did not come to pass.  I looked at Zoey's photos of
previous scout trips and was a little tired.  I should have worn a sign
said, "Late afternoon - neurons not firing - beware."

We then rushed off to the cars to go to Morrell's.  One mile west of the
Armory, I remembered that my battery for my Tag-Lite 2 was still sitting
serenely in the Armory.  Oh well.  We eventually made it to Morrell's.
now have a driveway going back to a second parking lot close to the
entrance, and charge a $5/person "parking" fee.  No, Gordon hadn't
remembered my battery.  I was now reduced to a Petzl Micro - the leader had
less light power than his Scouts!  Fortunately, Matt chose to let me borrow
his Petzl Mega (a rather "young" one that didn't have the Petzl Mega
connection problems I routinely have with my Megas).  With gratitude, I
accepted.  (Quite a contrast to his wife, who routinely carries at least
four and often five source of light. --Cathy)

Off we went into the cave.  Cathy and I were in the second group with Bill
Mattocks and Zoey.  Gordon, Matt, and Catherine were with the other group,
which apparently did the tour route through the cave without any problems
(except somewhat tired Scouts).  We became somewhat confused.  We first
ended up on a high ledge overlooking the first caving group in a deep
canyon, and had to return back a ways to rejoin them.  After what seemed to
me an interminable time, we arrived at the Devil's Staircase and started
climbing.  Once Gordon's group climbed the staircase, we would not see them
again for the rest of the trip, which was unfortunate.  We climbed the
staircase, made it to the "pretties", and then continued to the breakdown.
No one in our group had the great knowledge of Morrell's that
Gordon/Matt/Cathy had.  We went over the breakdown and Bill remembered a
crawl to the left to get to the stream.  We then proceeded to check out
almost every crawl to the left, but didn't find the stream.  We eventually
found the "two holes" room, a easy room that I remembered well where Scouts
and crawl-happy people can pop into one hole and pop out another hole
elsewhere in the room.  We remembered that.  We didn't remember anything
else.  Bill and Cathy and I were checking out various passages, but finally
concluded we were wasting too much time looking for "the way" and turned
around.  (We later concluded that simply had not gone deep enough into the
cave to find the crossover way to the stream.)  Not knowing this, back we
went, avoiding the breakdown and taking a slightly different route
to us by copious arrows, then returning to the "pretties" area and then
going back down the Devil's Staircase to the stream room.

By this time Cathy's carbide lamp was fading.  She had not refilled her
carbide baby bottle before the trip, so she was low on fuel and quite
being more eager to exit the cave than to fiddle with a carbide change,
especially when she had so little fresh carbide available.  She made a
decision to exit the cave by electric light.

Bill Mattocks: "The stream is the fastest way out of the cave - let's do
it".  One quick dip into knee deep water later, we turned around and took
the dry route back out of the cave.  We met a bunch of speleo-backpackers
entering the cave at the gate - and it turned out it was a good thing, as
they were supposed to lock the gate behind them as they went in to go
camping!  (They were supposed to lock the driving gate out of the parking
lot too, but fortunately, we were not locked in.)  We exited the cave, in
the dark, around 8 PM, an hour after the first group left the cave, and
trudged back up to the parking lot.  We returned to the Armory and around
PM, had dinner of salad, spaghetti, and garlic bread.  11 PM and we trudge
to bed.

Sunday morning, Bunny was trying to be a Fast Food place and made
Canadian-bacon and cheese biscuits or bacon and cheese biscuits for those
inclined, plus the usual other breakfast items.  We departed around 9:30
were home by 2, with enough time for Pete to mow the lawn and clean the
gear before darkness.  I thought we were supposed to relax after cave

Troglodyte non-Trudgings

(Editor's note: Ken asked me to reprint this "when I need filler" and Bill
agreed.  I didn't want to put it in the regular newsletter, as it is a
simple reprint from five years ago, but in my experimental electronic
newsletter, hey, no problem.)

Happy 5th Birthday Triangle Troglodytes
By Bill Bussey
(originally printed in the Dec. `94 Troglodyte Tribune)

This month marks the fifth anniversary of the charter of the Triangle
Troglodytes Grotto.  We were chartered as a grotto of the National
Speleological Society on December 27, 1989.  While I made a note to NSS
Internal Organizations Chair Evelyn Bradshaw that I preferred to be
chartered on January 1, 1990 so as to be the first grotto of the 90's, it
turns out we were the last grotto of the 80's!

Stepping back a moment, I think the grotto really got its start when
am Ende moved to Chapel Hill to go to grad school.  I had been here a year
and was a member of the Central Carolina Borehole Grotto (CCBG) centered in
the Greensboro-Asheboro area.  I dragged Barbara to a few CCBG meetings and
on one or two cave trips.  One bright Saturday, she taught several of us in
the club how to survey in the then newly discovered Boxwork Crystal Cave
(Still no map!) Ken Walsh, who had been active in the Baltimore Grotto also
moved to the area for grad school, had contacted me and joined us at a few
CCBG meetings.  Jon Littlefield, who had caved with his father who taught a
t VPI moved here and contacted me.  He and his girlfriend Patti Gauche
joined us at a CCBG meeting.

Noting that it was difficult to arrange carpooling to meet up with other
CCBG-ers on caving trips from the Triangle, Ken asked, "Why not start a
grotto here?"  Jon and Patti didn't especially like meeting in the same
house with one of the CCBG-er's mangy dog, so they heartily agreed.  I
didn't especially like the 90-mile one-way commute to meetings, and Barbara
didn't have time for such, so we were psyched.

We five met 3 times at the old Mazzios restaurant in Cary [next to
Goodberry's-KW] to discuss forming a grotto.  I joked that I was the
shortest of the five!  From the NSS Members Manual we knew there were
several NSS members in the area, including Dick Graham, whom I had known
a number of years.  He had in fact started the Triangle Universities Grotto
here years before.  Thus, we should be able to get the minimum five NSS
members needed for charter.  The universities each had outing clubs.  At
least some of those members should be interested in caving.  With a well
educated (as cavers generally tend to be) general population, we should be
able to build a membership base.  With a little research, I was quickly
to come up with a list of cavers, former cavers, or wanna-be cavers in the

We discussed where we could hold meetings, when, and what to name our club.
Barbara said we could use Room 106 of Mitchell Hall at UNC.  We set
5, 1989 for our organizational meeting.  A regular meeting time would be
decided then.  After seemingly endless discussion, we decided we would also
determine a name at the organizational meeting.

The meeting drew, by my records, some 21 people.  They included Barbara,
Ken, Jon, Patti, and me, Wayne Arrington, Jim Bisese, Scott Blaha, John
Burke II, Mitchell Dyer, Dick Graham, Frank McNutt, Doug Merrill, Alisa
Remington, Richard Richardson, Keith Russell, Carrie Scott, Kelly Victory,
Randy Villa, and Rod Willard.

We decided to organize and request grotto status with the NSS.  We would
have our first regular meeting on January 16, 1990.  We would meet
thereafter on the third Tuesday of each month at 7:30 PM.  The name
lots of discussion.  Dick and Barbara listed possible names on the
blackboard, and we methodically voted on and erased the losers.  The name
Triangle Troglodytes, seemingly by magic, was the last one remaining.  It
was perfect!  A name for a newsletter, the Troglodyte Tribune, was decided
thereafter (or was it at the January meeting?) in similar fashion.  Barbara
agreed to edit as long as she could.

At the first meeting in January, we collected our first set of dues of $5
per year [I remember it as $8/year-KW].  Our first members included
Ken, Jon, Patti, and me, Dorothy Alert, Bill Berryhill, Scott Blaha, Harry
Burgess, Allison Chambers, Mitchell Dyer, Kent Goode, Dick Graham, Pete
Hertl, Amy Johnson, Tanya McLaughlin, John Plyler, Charlotte Richardson,
Mark Richardson, Richard Richardson, Teresa Shuff, Mike Smith, Bob
Underwood, Kelly Victory, Randy Villa, Melissa Weakly, and Rod Willard.  We
elected Ken Walsh as Chair, Richard Richardson as Vice Chair, Kelly Victory
as Secretary, Mitchell Dyer as Treasurer, and Barbara as Editor.

Barbara published the first Troglodyte Tribune in time for the February
meeting.  The first grotto trip report published was a pre-trip report of a
January 6th trip to Scott Hollow Cave by Amy Johnson, Jon Littlefield, Ken
Walsh, Patti Gauche, and Richard Richardson.  Its paragraphs were multiple
choices where the reader could create his own trip report!  The first
grotto trip report to New River Cave was taken on February 3rd, by Mark
Richardson, Teresa Shuff, Sharon Pope, Scott Blaha, Melissa Weakly, Ken
Walsh, Robert Thomas, Doug Hindman, and John Canarpe.

In March 1990, Mark Richardson took over editing the Troglodyte Tribune and
the rest, as they say, can be told by others on another day.  For all those
who are there, I hope I got the above correct.  If I didn't, do write your
own version and submit it to Pete.

It's been a wonderful five years.  I particularly remember the mapping of
numerous caves with various members I could coerce, the great storytelling
by Melissa Weakly and later of Laura Appelbaum, the vertical trips with
Richardson, Pete Hertl and Bill Schwabenton, the dry humor of Mark
Richardson, the mosquito-assisted vertical practices at Pete's with Charles
McEachern, Susanna Clark and Nadi Findikli, and lots more.
I'm sure you have your own memories.  It has been a great five years.  And
the best is surely (Don't call me Shirley! as Jon Littlefield used to say)
yet to come!

Calendar of Events

Meetings are held at 7:30 PM on the third Tuesday of the month at the YMCA
building (218 W. Morgan St.) in Downtown Durham.  Annual dues are $15/year
for 2000 for regular members.

Date(s)                  Contact(s)              Description
mid-late Nov.         Ethan Scarl           North Durham Boy Scout Trip
December 2          Linda Waters        Vertical Trip, Roadside Pit,
                               (919)-489-3073     Pocahontas County, WV
December 16       Ken Walsh or         Ridgewalking in Smyth County, VA
                               Tanya M., at
Jan. 20                  Ken Walsh              Breathing Cave Survey (all
are welcome)
Feb. 17                  Ken Walsh              Cassell Cave Survey
(advanced cavers only)
July 23-27, 2001 NSS Convention, Mt. Vernon, KY (50
south of Lexington, KY)