Spencer Mountain Grotto
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How do I join a grotto?

You can join the Spencer Mountain Grotto by contacting Steve or Rosemarie MacDonell or by simply writing to Spencer Mountain Grotto c/o Steve MacDonell, 231 Spencer Drive, Spencer, TN 38585. The membership dues are $10 per year for individual and $15 per year for family membership. A meeting notice is sent out once a month and a newsletter approximately every 3 months. If you would like to find a grotto in your area. You may contact us and we will help you find one that is close to you. Or you can contact the National Speleological Society and they can help you. There are many grottos across the US as well as other countries.

Where do I found caves?

The best way to find caves is to join your local grotto and join in on their grotto cave trips. Most cavers will not disclose cave locations to just anyone. They are trying to preserve the cave and its surroundings. Even though you may mean no harm to the cave itself, there would be some that would. That is why we encourage grottos in your area. All grottos welcome new members, and cavers are the best and friendliest people you will ever know. Think about it, you would have to rely on each other when your in a cave, so why not become friends with them. They are always there when you need them.

Who is the NSS?

The NSS stands for the National Speleological Society. It is a non-profit organization that is into the exploration, conservation, and study of caves and the areas that are around them. They help caves maintain their natural habitant. The NSS is the only national group of this kind. The NSS also has charters of smaller non-profit organizations called grottos. Most areas of the US have these grottos. If there is not one in your area, the NSS can tell you how to establish one in you area. It is the responsibility of all good cavers to abide and be truly dedicated to the NSS's motto: "Take Nothing but Pictures, Leave Nothing but Footprints, Kill Nothing but Time". They believe that caves have unique scientific, recreational, and scenic values; that these values are endangered by carelessness and vandalism, once the values are gone they can not be recovered. The responsibility for protecting these caves are assumed by those who enjoy and study them. The NSS encourages projects such as cleaning and restoring caves, placing entrance gates where appropriate, establishing cave preserves, supporting protective measures, establishing landowner relations, opposing the sale of formations, and the list goes on. Every NSS member tries to spread the word concerning conservation problems to each potential user of caves. The beauty of our caves will not remain with us if we do not do this. They also try to help them learn safe caving practices as well.

What is Cave Conservation?

Cave Conservation is a very important part of cave exploring. Caves are very fragile and it could take thousands of years, if ever, to repair any damage caused by careless cavers. Also there are laws in all states that make it illegal to damage or remove anything that is in the cave including formations, any animals that you may encounter while in a cave, or any of the other parts of the cave that is in its' natural state.

There are three rules that all cavers live by:

Take nothing but pictures: Take nothing out of a cave that you didn't take in, this includes everything from the most beautiful formations, common rock and any animals you may see in the cave.

Kill nothing but time: Do not kill any animals or damage any formations you might find in the cave.

Leave nothing but footprints: This means you must be careful where you are walking in the cave. Do not walk on formations, and stay on the well-worn or marked paths throughout the cave. This also means that everything you bring into the fragile cave environment must be packed out. This includes all the usual trash you might of brought in, food wrappers, drink bottles, batteries, human waste, etc.. Everything that goes in, must go out, NO EXCEPTIONS!!!!!!

What are the proper caving ethics?

1) Never go caving alone..
Wear a good helmet with a chin strap with the primary light source attached. Always carry 3 light sources in case one should fail.
Always tell someone where and when you will be back.
4) Caving is extremely tiring, so you should know your limit and take your time.
Never sit still in a cave for a long period of time; this could cause hypothermia (shivering is the first sign).
Wear good boots with a deep sole if possible. Traction is very important.
Water, food, first aid kit, extra batteries, elbow & knee pads is something else you may consider carrying with you also.
Avoid jumping, cave floors are seldom level and may result in an injury if you jump.
Learn proper vertical ropework before attempting to rappel into pits, this is a big factor in cave rescues.





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