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Annual Tourist Trip
Today, 16 people did a commercial entrance to Lipps entrance through trip in Organ Cave. We entered the cave at 11:02am and came out the Lipps Entance at 5:35pm. The people on the trip were John Barth, Alan Carpenter, Chris Carpenter, Kevin Kesinger, Josh Kesinger, Justin Kesinger, Danial Burge, Llew Williams, Cara Doud, Brian Masney, Melissa Parker, Dave Moyer, Amber Moyer, Diane Moyer, Jason Thomas and Doug McCarty.
There were thirteen people at the Christmas party at Mary Davis and Bob Griffith's house this evening. Besides Mary and Bob, the people in attendance were Jason Thomas, Melissa Parker, Rich Finley, Jill Pyle, Brian Masney, Carl Werntz, Donna Ford-Werntz, Shannon Wentz, Bob Griffith, Mary Davis, Jesse Griffith, Katie Griffith and Doug McCarty. Presents included shovels, lights, tooth paste, a bat, a 1998 Speleo Digest, a camp stove, an edible light ring and miscellaneous items. The food was good, as was the company.
Jason Thomas, Brian Masney, Aaron Bird, Mark Passerby and I (helped by Tristan Bird and Lee Passerby) set some dye traps at various springs in the Cheat Canyon. Then some of us crawled into Druid Cave to the first drop and injected the dye. After climbing and four wheeling out of the canyon, we went to Aaron's house for some great food and wassail.
Shavers Mountain Survey
Rocky Parsons, Barry Horner, Richard Hand and Doug McCarty did a dye trace this weekend to see if the stream that sinks in Ginger Root Cave comes out at Three Springs or Mint Springs. We also finished up the survey of Alpena Blowhole and connected it with the old Alpena survey.
Cara Doud, Dave Olsen, Brain Masney, Aaron Bird and I went back to our upper entrance to Druid Cave dig today. It is very low and cramped with ceiling heights ranging from 12 inches to 10 inches--tough digging, but it seems to be opening up, and it is still pumping out air
Alan Carpenter, Don Humphrey, Jason Thomas and I picked up six or seven bags of garbage at the Adopt a Highway cleanup on old US 33 in front of Bowden.
Brain Masney, Aaron Bird and I dug ten feet into a possible upper entrance to Druid Cave today. It is still going and blowing.
Shavers Mountain Survey
Ralph Hubbard, Dave Muth, Rocky Parsons, Barry Horner, Richard Hand and Doug McCarty spent the night on Shavers Mountain Friday night and then rendezvoused with Bob Griffith, Don Humphrey and George Dasher at the Alpine Lodge on Saturday morning. Rocky, Bob and Barry dug out the low wet stream lead in County Line Cave. Barry scooped about 100 feet of wet crawl and it goes, but it will require wet suits and warmer weather. Ralph and Don also went in County Line, but later came out and joined Richard, George, Dave and Doug ridgewalking in the Two Springs area. We found several caves, springs and insurgences, but need to compare them against what is already known. The next Shavers Mountain Survey will be on 12/4/04. Tentative plans are to mop up the survey of the Alpena Blowhole entrance of Alpena. Be there or be square.
On Friday night (10/22/04) Doug Moore, Jason Thomas, Melissa Parker, John Barth, Cara Doud, Dave Olsen, Marty McKinley, Brian Masney, Ben Mirable, Garth (of the WVUSG) and I camped at Gatewood group Campground near Spruce Knob. It was a bit chilly, and very foggy, but we built a roaring fire and gathered around it listening to Muddy Waters and other great blues artists on XM radio. As usual, instead of going to sleep in a tent or sleeping bag, Garth slept in a chair by the fire. At about 5am his foot caught on fire and he was badly burned. Cara and Dave rushed him (relatively speaking) to the hospital in Elkins and he was transferred from there to the Burn Center in Pittsburgh. He apparently got third degree burns.
The next day (10/23/04) Bob Griffith, John Barth, Kevin and Justin Keplinger, Jason Thomas, Melissa Parker, Brian Masney, Cara Doud, Marty McKinley, Katherine Gertler (of WVUSG), Jonathan Kimble (who came with Katherine), Danial Burge (who came with Kevin), Randy Landis (who was invited by me), Chad Lowther (who came with Bob), Darcie Skeen (a first time caver who was "looking for adventure") and I went to Mystic. Everyone had a good time. Darcie said she really enjoyed caving but that she would never do it again.
The next day (10/24/04) I gave Llew Williams and John Barth a basic vertical caving training.focusing on rigging, rappelling and frogging. We were there from 9am until 3pm. The only incident worth noting was that somehow a yellow jacket crawled up my pant leg and stung me on the thigh three times (with decreasing amounts of venom). I'm not complaining though. At least I didn't end up in the Burn Center.
No Shavers Mountain Survey
The Shavers Mountain Survey was a washout this month. Neither Barry Horner nor Ralph Hubbard could make it, so Rocky Parsons, Richard Hand and I were the only ones who showed up at the cabin on the creek. Unfortunately, I had a sore throat, intestinal trouble and, unbeknownst to me at the time, a fever. It was worse on Saturday morning, so I went home and went to bed. Kevin and Justin Keplinger showed up, and Rocky wanted to go and dig in County Line, but they apparently thought it might be too rough of a cave for Justin with the exposure. So, they just went to Bowden and called it a day.
VAR/Mon Grotto 40th Anniversary
Thanks to a great team effort by Monongahela Grotto and the WVUSG the
VAR/Mon Grotto 40th Anniversary was (according to the feedback we got) a success. 216 people showed up. We had enough good food
for everyone who wanted it. The menu was lasagna, salad, garlic bread
sticks, cake and ice cream. There were no meal tickets. If you paid the registration
fee you ate. Period. No one went without a guidebook. The presentation was given to a packed house and the
Falling Run Bluegrass Band drew the majority of the people attending to the stage area. All of our led
trips got great reviews by the participants. Our location had flushtoilets and lots of hot water--and we left it cleaner than we found it.
We were helped out by Gordon Brace, who did the presentation on Hellhole; Barry Horner, who led the first ever through trip of Alpena (the Shavers Mountain Survey has connected Alpena Blowhole and Alpena, making Alpena a two entrance cave); the owner of Fanchler's Pit for allowing us to do a led trip there; John Pearson, who led a kid's tip to Moore Cave and led a fossil hunting trip in Horseshoe Run; Richard Hand and Muffin who helped us get unpacked on Thursday and helped in various other ways; VAR dog; and many other folks.
Kevin, Josh and Justin Keplinger, Llew and Justin Williams, Cindy and Paul Cheramie and I did a dry run of the VAR Otter Creek Cave Hike. We started at the Big Springs Gap trailhead, walked to the Otter Creek Trail. Did a truncated Otter Maze trip to the mini-formations at the end of one of the passages. Walked 3 miles to Confluence and went through it, coming out of the second entrance. The entire trip took about 5 hours.
OTR was great this year. The weather was ideal, the company was good and I believe everybody had a great time. By my count, there were 28 grotto members and their significant others camping with the grotto this year. Roads in our camping area have been eliminated, which caused us some problems, but nothing too major. We will, however, be camping in a different spot next year because of that elimination of roads. We will have to get there early in order to get a roadside camping spot. People did various things during OTR. Caving, digging, ridgewalking, partying, sitting in the sauna and having a general good time. Amber Moyer celebrated her twelve birthday during OTR by rappelling 50 feet into Fanchler Pit and doing some hardcore caving--including a 100 foot low belly crawl through water. This was the only grotto caving trip during OTR (see the pictures on the web site here). Various people won awards in various contests. The most significant was probably Chris Carpenter winning the Fun Run, which was great since our grotto originated the Fun Run 22 years ago. It was Jill Pyle's first OTR and she won fourth place with a rope walker. It wasn't a contest, but Rich Finley did 7 inches in the squeezebox Saturday night. This was Ralph Hubbard's first OTR too. A caver sticker Ralph thought up and Pat Rollyson of the GROSS Grotto printed went on sale on Venders Row. The sticker is a white oval (an imitation of the OBX Outer Banks stickers) that has the chemical symbol for calcium carbonate.
Don Humphrey, Kevin Keplinger, Bob Griffith, Mary Davis, Jesse Griffith, Cara Doud, Dave Olsen and Doug McCarty did the Bowden Adopt-a-Highway today. It was a beautiful day and we got about 8 bags of garbage
According to Ana Sutlovic Baksic of the Velebit Speleological Society, cavers in the mountainous Velebit region in central Croatia have found a 1,693 drop in a cave located in the Rozanski Hip National Park Reserve. That is almost three times higher than Fantastic Pit. It is higher than the Sears Tower in Chicago. At the base of the drop they have found one of the largest known colonies of subterranean leeches. Hmm. I wonder what they leech onto down there.
Ralph Hubbard and Doug McCarty of the Monongahela Grotto joined Rocky Parsons and Pat Rollyson of GROSS Grotto Friday night for the Shavers Mountain Survey. While Pat's daughter, Hannah, slept in the cabin, we sat around the campfire playing guitars and having a general good time well into the evening. We were joined the next morning by a third Mon Grotto member, Llew Williams, in digging open the GROSS Grotto Quarry Cave. This cave is blowing so much air that we could use it for a refrigerator. By today at 1pm, we could see cave passage, but one rock still blocks our way in.
PAG is doing "Rig the Rock" at North Bend State Park this coming weekend. Steve Mosberg, Dave Berman, Cullen Sutton and Todd Handley are going to rig rebelays, traverses and other vertical scenarios on Castle Rock--a seventy foot high chunk of sandstone. It will last from 11am to 4pm. Bring vertical gear, helmet, gloves, food & drink.
Rich Finley, Brian Masney and Doug McCarty took a group of 31 youth and several adults through the front section of Bowden today. I believe they were from the Reynoldsville Baptist Church in Harrison County.
The Web site for the NSS Convention of 2005 is up at http://www.nss2005.com/
The convention will be in Huntsville, Alabama from July 4th-8th with pre-convention and post-convention caving opportunities galore.
Kevin Frick came in from Arizona and joined Barry Horner, Rocky Parsons, Richard Hand and me to survey the newly dug out Frosted Ash Cave. Kevin and I also backpacked into Otter Creek Wilderness and explored the inner confusion of Otter Maze.
Celebration of the Outdoors
Bob Griffith, Jeff Lydic, Brian Masney, and Doug McCarty took four garbage bags of trash out of Coopers Rock Cave. We were then joined by Mary Davis and Rich Finley for a half day presentation on caving at the Celebration of the Outdoors. Although the event didn't seem to have been publicized very much, we had a few people show up. Bob gave a power point intro to caving and we took seven people into Coopers Rock Cave. After that, we did a vertical demonstration on ropes we rigged in the trees and gave several of our new cavers a chance to try a Mitchell system. Bob and I are taking several people on a beginner trip tomorrow to Barton's Cave.
Shavers Mountain Survey
Barry Horner, Rocky Parsons, Ralph Hubbard, Doug
Fall VAR will be at Camp Kidd in Tucker County WV on the weekend of September 24-26. A VAR was hosted there by Monongahela Grotto once before in 1995. Thanks to Doug Moore for arranging for us to get Camp Kidd. A Fall VAR page will be added to this website soon with registration information, a map and other details.
Word is that the NSS is in somewhat of a financial crunch. The cause of the problem and how bad it is are unknown to me. I wouldn't be surprised if there weren't a dues hike in the offing.
Doug Moore is talking about putting together a two day vertical class at Coopers Rock in late July. It would be a beginner course, but would include things like basic haul systems and self rescue and other important things. As a grotto, I think we should plan a vertical trip with WVUSG and MARG for the following weekend so the beginners can try out their new skills. More on this as it develops.
The effort to locate a site in Tucker County for Fall VAR is becoming difficult. Our best hope in Canaan Valley was Timberline, but they want $9 apiece for the meal and $10 per person to camp in an area far removed from the lodge with no toilets or showers. Camp Kidd is now our only other option, but the rental agreement they sent me was hard for me to decipher. I sent them a description of what we needed and asked if they could have someone call me. I'm still waiting--although I didn't really expect anything before Monday the 17th. If that falls through for some reason, we'll probably have to retreat to northern Randolph County--to Alpine Shores.
Shavers Mountain Survey
There were four people at the Shavers Mountain Survey this weekend. We surveyed the virgin high lead in County Line Cave. It was a crawl that opened into a short stretch of walking passage, then quickly went to a low belly crawl in sandy dirt that we had to dig out in order to get through. It went about 100 feet and then, amazingly, led into a fairly large domepit that will require vertical gear. There is more passage on the other side.
Because they were switching to a new server, this site has not been updated for more than three weeks. The server is now switched and we're back on the air.
Three teenagers died in some man-made "caves" on the banks of the Mississippi near St. Paul, Minnesota. They were suffocated by carbon monoxide that was produced, apparently, because somebody other than the teenagers had lit a fire. The "caves" were originally sandstone mines that were later used to grow mushrooms. It is unfortunate that they have been labelled "caves" by the media because it may stir up some anti-cave hysteria. It is also very unfortunate that these three teens died.
The Monongahela Grotto will be hosting the next VAR. It was not altogether a happy decision because the VPI Cave Club also wanted to host it, and apparently (unbeknownst to us) had asked first. However, it is our 40th anniversary and we haven't hosted a VAR for nine years. It was a close vote, but in the end, Mon Grotto got it.
Alan Carpenter, Bob Griffith, Don Humphrey, Ralph Hubbard and I showed up at the Adopt-A-Highway at Bowden. We also had a helper from the Mountain State Grotto, but I forget her name. Later in the afternoon, Ralph, Carl Werntz and I along with a new caver named Gerrard did a managment trip to Bob White and picked up several pieces of trash in the cave and on the property. The register in the cave is like a roll of wet toilet paper and needs replaced.
The horizontal entrance to McClung's has a new owner and there is a new tenant
living in the house. There have been a number of incidents at the cave over the last month
that have caused a lot of friction between the tenant and the caving community. The
parking area is now posted with No Parking signs and unless you have specific permission from the owner, the tenant says he
will call the police.
If you're heading to Persinger's Cave Preserve, a Greenbrier County landowner has requested that no one the road that has been used up until now. There is a chain across the lane to prevent through traffic. This is NOT due to any cavers upsetting the owner. It is in response to construction equipment using his road and tearing it up. If you are planning a trip to Persingers, contact me at the grotto e-mail address on the Contacts page for the new directions.
The NSS Board of Governers has voted to re-designate NSS-owned properties now called "cave preserves" as "nature preserves". It was done because of rising insurance costs. It is hoped that by calling them "nature preserves" and taking the focus off of the caves, the insurance costs will eventually go down. It is also believed that organizations that give out grants will respond more favorably to a "nature preserve".
PS to Shavers Mountain Survey
Ralph and Barry decided to check out the pit at some future date, they got invited to a crazy kayaker party and stayed up until the wee hours of the AM. When they got up this morning, they decided to check out the pit at a later date. (The owner says he can drop a rock in this hole and it takes four seconds to hit bottom.)
Shavers Mountain Survey
Ralph Hubbard and I joined Rocky Parsons and Barry Horner on the mountain today. We unsuccessfully looked for Mint Springs #3, we GPSed Ginger Root Cave, but we spent most of our time digging in a tall little cave being called Frosted Ash (for now). It blows a lot of air and the dig looks like it is opening into larger passage. Tomorrow, Ralph and Barry are checking out hole in the ground the landowner says is a pit.
The incident in Mexico mentioned below has apparently been blown into a full blown international incident that some people seem to think may threaten recreational caving in Mexico. Vicente Fox and many Mexicans are upset, justifiably I think, at having been apparently regarded as a third world backwater
The British Ministry of Defense says a team of six soldiers, sailors and airmen on an "adventure training mission" have been trapped by high water for the past five days. . They were spending 36 hours in a "pre-prepared camp" which had a telephone line to another team on the surface. When they became trapped, local Mexican authorities weren't notified. Instead a team of specialists from the Royal Navy were dispatched from the UK instead. The Mexican's say that the trapped cavers apparently "don't trust in the abilities of the Mexican rescuers". Sounds rather mysterious to me.
Rich Finley, Jason Thomas, Mellissa Parker, Brian Masney and Ben Mirable went to Simmons Mingo today
In spite of rain and high water a few intrepid souls made Shavers County Survey--Rocky Parsons, Barry Horner, Ralph Hubbard and me. We ridgewalked in the intermittant rain and found several insurgences taking large amounts of water, then went back to Alpine Lodge for chili and grilled cheese sandwiches. There is a lot of work to be done up there. There are lots of potential digs that are quite promising and virgin cave in County Line Cave that is unsurveyed. If you've ever thought about becoming a project caver, this is a great opportunity to do so. Of course there are hazards too. I got my van stuck in the ice on the road to Bear Heaven Campground Friday in 75 degree weather.
E-mail from Dave Moyer regarding Jim Barrett:
I started a new job the day after OTR, working on a construction project building a new $200M airport in Harrisburg, Pa. It's going good.
But, that's not why I am sending this e-mail. Monday a strange guy in a pickup truck was driving frantically towards me beeping the horn and waving his arm
out the window as I walked across the construction parking lot to get to the
construction manager's office. I was somewhat puzzled as to what I did to piss
this guy off.
The Shavers Mountain Survey has started up again on the first weekend of the month. Rendezvous at Alpine Lodge in Alpina at 9am on Saturday morning.
Starting sometime in "late February" Bill Stone will be posting field dispatches from his expedition to Cheve Cave in Mexico to the web address:
Also, for some entertaining mug shots of some PSC and other cavers from way back when (including at least one Mon Grotto member, Bill Biggers), check out the PSC web site. Go to the lefthand column and click on Project Simmer Mug Shots
Because our annual report to the NSS was a few days late, we were temporarily not listed as an active internal organization within the NSS. It was no big thing and has been rectified. Also, the grotto meeting was held last night. For what happened go here
The NSS website was down for more than a week this month because of server problems. As a result of that, this web site was inaccessible and has not been updated for about three weeks
last, Bat Boy, the Musical will be playing in Pittsburgh at the Charity Randall
Some Maryland cavers have gotten both the NSS and the state of Maryland to approve an official NSS Maryland state license plate. I'm not much into vanity plates, but I'd get an NSS plate if WV had one.
Four Polish cavers were killed by an avalanche in the Tatra Mountains in the Mala Swistowka area on January 28.
Cavers Cruise the Caribbean
Bruce Bannerman has announced that next January (2005) there will be a "first ever caver cruise" on Royal Caribbean's Explorer of the Seas. The eight day/seven night cruise will depart from Miami on January 9, 2005 and will stop in Puerto Rico, St. Maarten and St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands and Nassau. There is a $100 early bird deposit. The total cost is about $747 per person for the cheapest cabin (plus airfare to Miami, of course). Brochures will be available at grotto meetings--or e-mail Bruce at firstname.lastname@example.org
Mrs. Geraldine Freeman (owner of McClungs Cave) passed away at her nephew's home on January 21st.
Brief Trip Report
or How to find Bob White when you're not really sure where it is.
e-mail received from Llew Williams (44854RE)
Doug, I thought I would send a little report on our visit to Bob White. My son Justin and I visited it on Friday 01/02/04. Weather was drizzley and warm. We arrived in Parsons at about 12:00. We drove up and down the road while holding my GPS out the window until we got an idea where the Nature Conservancy property was. Justin had to get out and push at one point when my two-wheel drive truck just wouldn't turn around on the packed wet ice. We found a good solid place to park just off of the edge of the property. I had UTM coordinates from the NSS Convention 2000 Guidebook. We knew it was on Nature Conservancy land and near a logging road. We started up an old logging road with my GPS. Two hours later we had scaled the mountain, crossed the property, descended and recrossed the mountain. At this point we were thoroughly familiar with the property lines and rapidly losing faith in my GPS unit. Christmas is over. Maybe I can ask for a new one. My birthday is coming up. My GPS is pretty old, maybe it's getting flakey?? Anyhow we decided to put it away and just see if we coldn't find the cave on our own. We followed the road up higher on the mountain. Came to a three way intersection. Looked left. Edge of property. That leaves two possibilities. Our "Cave Sense" said to take the right fork. We went a couple of hundred feet. Ah ha, a sink. We were finally there. It was 3 PM and we had a great walk in the woods. We put on on our gear and climbed down into the cave. The area was clean and the mouth of the cave was pristine, with no trash or graffiti. We got to the the register. It looks like we are the first registered visitors, since June ! We climbed up into the upper level to stay dry. We encountered a few bats here and there. Worked our way back the second level for over an hour with some up and down climbs. About 5 PM we were near the back of the cave, but not all the way to the end. We decided to head out and stayed in the lower level for most of the trip. We saw one area in the lower lead that had maybe twenty bats in one place with some layering over others. We saw maybe 100 bats total for the day. We tried to stay as far from the bats as possible and none were awakened. We got out about 6 and used our headlights to find our way back down to the road. The stream crossings were a little more difficult under lights but we both finished the day with dry feet. We had a good trip. I would like to do another trip when I can get in a little earlier. I noticed a live trap on the NC property at the bottom of the hill. It was not baited and it was closed. It looked to be for raccoons. I don't know if the Conservancy would be interested. Maybe they alreay know about it. It was a very official looking trap.
In Springfield, Missouri, a man named Chad Wilson has copped a plea on a charge of cave vandalism for vandalizing River Bluff Cave in Missouri in April 2002. A road crew discovered the virgin cave in 2001 and got people from a local university to explore it. Shortly after the discovery was announced to the public this bozo and another guy broke in and vandalized the cave.
The West Virginia Cave Conservancy is trying to purchase trees for the Persingers Cave Preserve. The trees are for the entrance to Benedicts Cave. For only $10 you can purchase a tree in someone's name.
Jason Thomas, Rich Finley, Brian Masney, Ben Mirable, Jen Dodd and Rob from the VPI Cave Club spent the days before and after the New Year caving at TAG. Pictures are posted on this web site. To see them click here. The full set of pictures can be seen at a temporary website set up by Brian here. The photos on the Mon grotto site include Neversink Pit, Ellisons Cave, and Pittsburg Pit.
Kevin Frick and I went hiking/ridgewalking in the Fernow Forest in Tucker County. We found no caves, but did find an interesting insurgence and what we presume is the associated resurgence about 1/10 of a mile away.
What Was Up in 2003
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