Introductions

Triangle Troglodytes in attendance: Zeke, Emily, Peter, Ken, Stephan, Mark, Taylor O., and Howard

Business

  • As always, a dues reminder. Pay your annual TriTrogs dues now or wait until July and pay half-price! Here is our PayPal stuff.
  • NSS dues range from $20 to $140, depending on how nice you are. Find details at this link. (NSS = National Speleological Society)
  • Annual Grotto Trip! Those in attendance agreed on the weekend of August 13. The location remains up in the air.
  • Louis asked for suggestions for future meeting programs. Stephan may be willing to present some of his cave diving photos, and Mark suggested a rundown of caving-related feature films (think The Descent, Sanctum, The Cave, etc).
  • Free loot! Howard gave away two gently used wetsuits and two tins of carbide.

Trip Reports (VAR Edition)

We went in. We came out. We had fun.

Stephan F.
  • Return to Endless Caverns: Stephan and Peter went on a tour of the wild section of Endless Caverns. They encountered small holes, crawling sections, pits to avoid, pits to descend, and even some water.
  • Ken worked on a project to rebuild the trail to Madison Saltpeter to make it less noticeable from below. In addition to the trail project, the Cave Conservancy of the Virginias hopes to reclaim the Cave Hill Natural Area Preserve from the invasive species.
  • Taylor O. visited small, well-decorated Massanutten Cave, which operated as a commercial caverns once upon a time. They were warned that the lower, wild level sometimes floods, and it had, so it was a short, wet trip.
  • Ken attended the Sunday VAR meeting. Among other topics discussed, Southeastern Cave Conservancy (SCCi) has acquired Salamander Cave, a vertical maze cave over 2 miles long in Giles County, Virginia. Also, there is again and always some discussion about gating New River Cave.
  • On the way home, Ken, Stephan, Peter, and Taylor walked through Crozet Tunnel (aka Blue Ridge Tunnel). They refrained from scraping the lampenflora off the walls and enjoyed the respite from the heat.

Upcoming Things

  • June 11 – sport trip to Hancock Cave
  • June 13-17 – NSS Convention in Rapid City, SD
  • July 8-10 – Karst-O-Rama in Mt. Vernon, KY
  • July 15-23 – NCRC Cave Rescue Seminar and Training in Covington, VA
  • July 24-31 – International Congress of Speleologie in France
  • Aug 13 – Annual Grotto Trip
  • Aug 20 – Led trips at Perkins Cave in Washington Co., VA

Program

We watched a video about an electrical resistivity project in Bracken Cave, roosting site for millions of Mexican free-tailed bats. The project is billed by the National Cave & Karst Research Institute as the world’s first geophysical survey of bat guano. The purpose is to find the perfect location from which to take a core sample of guano, for analysis of the bats’ diets throughout the ages.

Our group of TriTrogs (Ken, Diana, Emily, and Rob) rolled into Natural Bridge, VA, on Friday night to find a cold, busy campground brimming with cavers. There were well over 300 registered for Spring VAR, hosted this year by the BATS. After verifying that Saturday’s guided trips were full, we found Tanya and, eventually, our campsite. Many thanks to Lee for his intrepid campsite wrangling.

Ken got the dirt on a pair of nearby caves, namely Brady’s and Brady’s Hidden. The proximity allowed us the luxury of sleeping in on Saturday while those bound for farther reaches geared up in the cold early morning rain. After breakfast and canopy assembly the four of us were joined by cabin-dwellers Wendell and Joel.

What we saw of Brady’s can be summed up as about two hundred feet of stagnant, foul-smelling cave that showed heavy signs of raccoon use. Two tri-colored bats were spotted. One obliged Rob by submitting to numerous tests of his various macro camera settings. We exited to a light, brief rain and sought out Brady’s Hidden Cave. Rob found it a couple of sinkholes away, below a large triangle of exposed limestone that may as well have been a blinking neon sign. We navigated about a quarter mile of cave, which included a tiny spring, a small, pretty room filled with active formations, short, interesting climbs through large breakdown, and the welcome discovery of an alternative route that prevented my rib cage from suffering the same indignity twice.

That evening we gathered at the Natural Bridge Hotel for dinner, followed by Ernst Kastning’s presentation on the history of Natural Bridge, followed by door prizes. A local band entertained the campground until 11pm. Sunday morning Front Royal Grotto offered an affordable pancake breakfast.

Ken attended the VAR business meeting. The new VAR website (var.caves.org) has a closed cave list that they are trying to keep current. Archived issues of the Region Record are also online, and hopes remain for an index to same. Various conservation projects were mentioned. Fundraising continues for New River Cave. And Walker Mountain Grotto became an official member of VAR and agreed to host Fall VAR this year! At least that’s what we all heard.

Before leaving town we visited Foamhenge, a life-size Styrofoam model of Stonehenge. Only better, because it has most of a life-size model of Merlin the wizard presiding over it. It was totally worth the price of admission.