Shaver's Mountain Survey
The first project weekend for the survey this year was a bit soggy and the key was in hand for the forest property but the lock was not on the link. Four soles sat at the lodge at breakfast watching the rain come and go. Rocky Parsons, Doug McCarty, Ralph Hubbard, and Barry Horner were in no hurry to take on a rainy ridgewalk but as the day went on it held back to almost a drizzle.
|The insurgence at Mint Springs - B. Horner, March 2004
Driving up to the gate we found that the lock was not put on for our key so Rocky said that we could take a shortcut around the hill to go to Mint Springs where he wanted to do some gps readings and we needed to walk there anyway. As soon as we got around to the run on the road we walked right up to two nice insurgences. This was a great start. The walk up the run was very interesting. This is a promising area and with the location of the spring and another insurgence off to the side in another run it got even better.
After these locations were recorded and admired we moved up over the hill and headed back towards the cars to check the top and the sinks on the other side that I had seen on earlier walks. These too were taking water and after walking to two other caves to do readings we ended up at Jumble Sinks Cave which was also taking water.
|The entrance of Jumble Sink Cave - B. Horner, March 2004
The morning had produced a rewarding turnout and with the noon hour in the rain left only one thing in your mind. Hot chili back at the lodge! So with that said it is not hard to figure out that chili and the rain killed the rest of the day and everyone went home early.
I did stop by and talk to Ted Odgen to remind him that we still do exist and would be back next month to install a culvert in the sink of Ogden Cave .
|The Alpena # 2 Exsurgence - B. Horner, March 2004
||The Mint Springs Exsurgence - B. Horner, March 2004
Shavers Mountain Project
Four ambitious cavers met on a rainy Saturday morning at the Alpine Lodge. That being Rocky Parsons, Barry Horner, Bob Alderson and new comer to the project, Doug McCarty, from Fairmont W.Va. representing the Monongahela grotto. Over coffee and breakfast we discussed our ambitious plans for the day: Rocky and Doug would go up to County Line Cave. Barry and I would check out a spring that we had been working on and then go up to Ogden's cave to continue work there on enlarging the entrance. We also talked about putting a culvert in the entrance to Ogden's to protect it from the fill dirt that is being put in the field near the entrance.
Rocky and Doug being curious sorts, followed Barry and I over to the spring. Barry was trying out his new yellow waterproof Petzel over suit so he did the entrance crawl first. The rain that morning resulted in a good flow of water out of the entrance. Barry crawled in about 8' and around the first corner and paused. The water flow decreased substantially. He started splashing around and started moving again. The water flow surged and returned to its previous flow. The variations in water flow repeated several times until Barry reamerged from the cave to report that the cave continued up the stream with low air space and also over mud banks. The mud banks would require digging but the water was too cold to work in. We decided to give the stream some time to flush them out. His experience in the cold water convinced Barry that he did not want to go lie in water again to work on Ogden's Cave.
So, we all headed into the National Forest to the North side of Shavers Mountain Where County Line Cave is located. Refer to previous Shaver Project reports for the complete story of County Line Cave.
We went in to survey passage at the bottom that we opened up the previous month. We more than doubled the length of the cave, setting 24 stations and surveying over 200' of passage. The passage heads north on the strike toward Tucker County. The passage we surveyed was a narrow canyon above the stream that went through a broken down dome and canyon into a flat crawl, finally dropping back to the stream. At this point the stream turned down dip to the west and went under the canyon wall over a bed of cobbles. We stopped because the stream passage was under 6'' high. We could look down the stream about 15' and see that the ceiling remains flat but it looks like the floor may begin to drop away. There is very good flow of air coming up out of it, so it remains as a good but major dig project. We did not map the whole of the cave however. There remains an upper level that goes North as well with good airflow. Also a drop to the stream passage before the end of the cave. Maybe the upper level will bypass the stream crawl. Maybe we'll find out next month, which will be our last opportunity to use the Forest Service road until next spring.
We were so intent on surveying the virgin cave we found that we completely missed lunch, and so returned to the Alpine for dinner with good appetites.
Shavers Mountain Project
September 6, 2003
By Rocky Parsons
For those of you who have been reading my Shavers Mountain Project trip reports, you may remember my June 7th trip to County Line Cave where I lost my Walmart illuminator/timer/alarm wristwatch. While climbing up and out the muddy, slippery, vertical entrance, the watch came loose and fell back into the cave. I wasn't crazy about the idea of re-entering the cave, negotiating the sleazy climb down and back up the entrance to retrieve the cheap, very worn watch. Instead, on my way home, I stopped by Walmart and purchased a replacement illuminator watch.
Thereafter, every morning, when my replacement watch alarmed and woke me at the beginning of the day, I thought of my old watch alarming, at the same time in that cave on Shavers Mountain, waking all the cave critters. I wondered if the alarm would interfere with the critters' sleeping, feeding and mating habits resulting in the evolution of a new, mutant, endangered species. The Forest Service might end up gating the cave….all because I lost my watch! So, I made plans to retrieve the watch on my next trip on the Mountain, not just because of the cave critters, but also, because I don't believe in leaving stuff in a cave. Besides, we left a dig in the back of the cave that needed to be pushed!
On September 6th, Barry Horner, Bob Alderson and I returned to County Line Cave. After climbing down the entrance, Bob and Barry headed off to begin pushing the lead in the back, down stream area of the cave. Meanwhile, I began searching the bottom of the entrance for my lost watch. At the bottom, the entrance pit splits into three funnel slopes ending close to the stream. I thoroughly searched all three areas without success. I wondered if some cave rat took my watch to put on the mantle in his nest. Frustrated, I gave up the search and joined Bob and Barry just as they made a breakthrough into new passage. After a short look around, we decided to return at a later date to further explore and survey the new passage. On the way up and out the entrance pit, Barry found my watch stuck in the mud in a foothold. Unbelievably, it was still running and keeping correct time. Wahoo, mission accomplished!!! New passage was discovered and my wristwatch was rescued. The cave critters can sleep in late now.
We headed down off the Mountain, back to Alpena for lunch. After a great meal, we went to work on a new dig located behind Alpine Lodge. The owner of the Lodge, Mark, is interested in locating and opening the long lost Alpena # 2 Cave that is described in Davies' Caverns of West Virginia . The entrance of that cave was reportedly filled in some time ago and no one has been able to find its location. While doing some earthwork in the area, Mark had an excavator dig open a spring at the base of the hill. Our plan was to continue to work on enlarging the newly uncovered opening hoping to find a new entrance to Alpena #2 or a new cave.
The opening is low and wet with a small stream flowing out and there is good air movement. Working on the dig requires lying in the water, crawling head first into the entrance and reaching out ahead to hammer, pry, scoop and dig. Barry applied his cave modification expertise to expertly move the most material with the least amount of effort. He is very good at making caves fit cavers. He often had to dig with one hand while trying to prop himself up and out of the water with his other hand. Bob and I would relieve Barry by taking turns helping to remove rubble and dig out loose material from the opening. At one point, there was an especially large rock that I was trying to wrestle backwards out the narrow passage. I just couldn't get a good enough grip to make any progress. Barry took over and, by wrapping the rock in his arms in a bear hug, he was able to scoot the bolder out the entrance. While he was there, he grabbed another big rock and removed it too! Slowly, we progressed deeper into the cave until it turned around a corner. Peering around the corner, the cave continues as a narrow, winding passage. By then it was getting late and we had reached a good stopping point. So, while Bob and Barry went to the Lodge for supper, I headed for home. Further work on the cave was postponed until the October Shavers Mountain Project weekend.
Shavers Mountain Project
By Rocky Parsons
Caving during Old Timers???
Trip 1, Friday, August 29, 2003
Two dedicated Shavers Mountain Project crews headed out from OTR at around 9:00 am for some fun on the Mountain. Barry Horner, Rick Wagner and Karen Wilmes went up to the head of Three Spring Run to push and survey Four Point Cave while Richard Hand, Jerry and Jason Jesteadt and I went to dig on GROSS Grotto Quarry Cave (GGQC). This dig is located up the valley from the small, old quarry in the same area as Four Point Cave.
GGQC started out as a rock pile moving air in a shallow sink that GROSS Grotto found and started digging on in the 1980's. It looked like a promising area because it was above the resurgence of Three Spring Run and in the direction of the Schmidlen property. A dye trace had already established that the water in the caves on the Schmidlen property resurges at Three Springs. GROSS dug on the sink for quite a while until finally giving up. There were too many other leads to work on at the time.
During our ridge walk this past spring, the Shavers Mountain Project crew noticed that the sink had settled, exposing a headwall, and had a considerable amount of air movement. So, armed with shovels, pry bars, a sledgehammer and bucket, we started digging on the sink again. We were working in gravel with a few large rocks and lots of dirt. It was pretty easy digging, except for lifting the bucket up and out of the ever-deepening hole. We would often open up a hole deep enough to swallow a pry bar, but it would soon choke with dirt from the sink's walls. When we did open a hole, the air would just howl up through the gravel and dirt. The volume of air was impressive!
About mid-morning, it started to rain and, with no shelter, we got soaked. We soon noticed that water was flowing in from the side of the sink and disappearing down into the gravel. Standing outside the sink in the humid, eighty-degree weather, it was hot. But working down in the sink, in wet clothes, with all that cool air, it was very cold. We took turns changing jobs, digging and hauling dirt so that everyone could get a break from the heat or cold, depending on where they were working. The air movement was so chilling, that those working in the sink would temporarily plug the holes we dug open in order to help reduce the airflow.
After a while, Barry, Karen and Rick came by and said that they had finished pushing and surveying Four Point. They reported that it apparently does not go very far and that there is no significant air movement. We all decided to head down off the mountain and call it a day. After all, it was OTR weekend and there were other priorities.
I am anxious to get back to finish digging GGQC. With all that air blowing up through the gravel and dirt and the fact that it takes water, there must be cave there waiting to be opened and pushed.
Trip 2, Saturday, August 31, 2003.
For some reason, it's easier to recruit people for caving trips on Thursday evening of OTR than it is on Saturday night. Wonder why? Still, nine cavers headed for the Mountain at around 9:00am Sunday morning.
Barry Horner, Rick Lambert, Chris Woodley, Scott Walquest and Rob Fry went to a dig behind the Alpine Lodge in Alpena. The owner of the Lodge, Mark Burke, is interested in locating and opening the long lost Alpena # 2 Cave that is described in Davies' Caverns of West Virginia . The entrance of that cave was reportedly filled in some time ago and no one has been able to find its location. While doing some earthwork in the area, Mark had an excavator dig open a spring at the base of the hill. Barry's crew went to work on enlarging the newly uncovered opening hoping to find a new entrance to Alpena #2 or a new cave. The rest of us headed farther north on the mountain.
Charlie Plantz, Doug and Hazel Medville and I drove through the Forest Service gate at Three Spring Run and up the hill to the limestone outcrop. I had wanted to review this area with Doug for a long time since he was one of the first people to locate and describe the caves there. The first publication of Caves of Randolph County (West Virginia Speleological Survey #1) had maps copied from the old fifteen-minute quadrangles and was hard to read. The cave locations in that publication did not jive with the cave locations in the newer Caves and Karst of Randolph County (WVSS Bulletin # 13) and the features we found did not necessarily match the descriptions in either publication.
Two obvious entrances are located in sinks on the north side of the road. Dave West, Richard Hand and Dan Peden had surveyed these caves on their June 7 th trip. The first cave, farthest to the east, that Dave called Ledge Cave is what Doug says Bulletin # 13 calls Ramps Cave. The second entrance, farther west, that Dave called Ledge Pit is what the Bulletin calls Cripple Cave. Doug remembered that it got its name when he and Hazel were doing the initial ridge walking in the area in the early 1970's and a stick poked him in the eye. There was enough injury to require Doug to go into Elkins for some medical assistance.
Another obvious entrance to the south is Jumble Sinks. Bulletin #1 indicates that Jumble Sinks is farther north, close to Shavers Mountain Cave, but Doug is sure, from the description, that the correct location is there near Three Spring Run as described in Bulletin # 13.
We spent some time looking for some new features that Barry had found during his August 2 nd trip and then headed up the road along the outcrop toward the north. I showed Doug and Charlie the entrance to Shavers Mountain Cave and the location of what I had been calling Jumble Sinks. Again, Doug was certain that this is not the correct location of Jumble Sinks Cave because he had never been there before.
We then drove farther north trying to locate Kuntzville Hollow Cave and Thren's Hole. We're pretty sure where Kuntzville Hollow Cave is, but couldn't find Thren's Hole. Thren's was a small diameter pit near the road and it has probably filled in with dirt. We also looked at the entrance of County Line Cave.
After that, we parked and walked north into Tucker County where Doug showed me several sinks, resurgences and sinking streams. Several of the sinking streams disappear into obvious, although small, openings. One of these is named Blue Pot Cave after a rusty, old blue enamel pot found near the entrance. There is the possibility of significant cave in the area, given the number of karst features and the amount of water disappearing underground. The limestone's potential for forming significant caves is demonstrated by the Cave Hollow – Arbogast Cave system located nearby, just to the north.
Once we got back to the vehicles, we drove off the Mountain, regrouped with Barry's crew, and returned to OTR. It had been a very productive trip. Barry's group made some progress on their dig behind Alpine Lodge and Doug was able to positively identify some of the caves the Shavers Mountain Project folks had been locating, exploring and surveying. In addition, Doug showed me a number of karst/cave features that we had not yet located. There's lots of work waiting to be accomplished on the Mountain. Imagine, a productive caving trip during OTR!!!
Shaver's Mountain Project
August 2, 2003
By Barry Horner
Shaver’s Mountain Survey Project
This weekends report is not a whole lot better then the one from last month.
Last month was canceled do to the holidays and the fact that I was on vacation.
This month I was the only one there since Rocky had things to do and nobody
else came. I however did not let this stand in the way of progress. I took the
warm weather to my advantage and went to as many holes as possible and checked
for air flow. The results were good. It seems that everything at the lower end
of the forest road was blowing while the holes at the upper end of the county
were sucking. This is expected since the upper end of the mountain has a higher
exposure. The results are as follows:
1. The sink just above the first outcrop on the left has a small hole that
blows air. I don’t think a hole was noticed before. It also takes water from
2. There is a rock sink below the left side of the road before the hairpin
turn that blows air and takes water from above the second turn. Just north of
this is a smaller sink that does the same.
3. The insurgence that was reported next to the hairpin on the right of the
road blows but I found that the water flow was not as much as expected so…
4. I found a good sized sink up stream from the insurgence that take the
biggest part of the drainage from well above the second turn. This has a deep
matted floor with a hole that appears to have just opened and blows air. This
takes more water than the insurgence by the road.
5. The location that we assumed is Thren’s Hole or listed as Mint Springs 1
& 2 in the bulletin is blowing air at the right side of the outcrop in two
places not from the sloped entrance that we thought was the cave.
6. The pit insurgence below the road on the right before the meadow has
taken a good amount of water but may not be moving air unless it is sucking.
This is where the bulletin list Thren’s Hole.
7. The insurgence that was found in a streambed above the 484 Shaver’s #3
appears to be sucking.
8. The big headwall sink with the multiple resurgences and the sinking
stream below is blowing air at the upper resurgence only.
9. And last but not least County Line Cave is sucking. This air could be
coming out at the headwall sink. The cave most probably trends that way and I
did find funnel sinks on the west side of the road from County Line Cave.
I did not walk to the Hot Run locations but I would be willing to bet
that they are moving air as well. I also did not check the double tree sinks
which could be connected to the stuff above the first outcrop. Nor did I walk
to any of the stuff on the other side of Three Springs which was probably my
loss as well.
There are only three weekends left before we have to turn the key back
into the forest service so we had better get hungry cavers up there and get to
digging. As Rocky will tell you, “You don’t want to walk this mountain in the
I know that time is short so I may plan to do some of the other things on
other weekends. I really need to keep some of the other landowners happy. If
anyone has thoughts or free time let me know and I will try to get a few dates
set after I get out of Hell and OTR.
Shaver's Mountain Project
June 7, 2003
By Rocky Parsons & Dave West
Ten folks showed up for the June Shavers Mountain Project weekend. We decided
that it was time to begin mapping some of the many leads we had located on
previous ridge walking trips. Driving through the Forest Service gate, we
passed open cave entrances that had been described in the Caves of Randolph
County Bulletins as probably being Cripple Cave and Ramps Cave. Dave West, Don
Peden and Richard Hand decided to work on these caves. George Dasher, Mike
Wolf, Dennis Melko, Barry Horner and I traveled north on a Forest Service road
to a small blind valley near the Randolph/Tucker County line where a small,
higher, nearby entrance had been checked, but not surveyed.
Entering the cave in two surveying groups, Barry and I (team B) headed for the
deeper parts of the cave while George, Mike and Dennis (team A) started their
survey from the entrance. The entrance is a tricky, slicky, crumbly, vertical
climbdown. Once at the bottom, the cave twists around in a series of
connected, small rooms. The water from the small blind valley enters a
limestone headwall and is found flowing in the lower passages of the cave.
After scouting around a bit, Barry suggested that we survey a loop around the
lower passages. I'm not saying that this is a small cave, but after surveying
six stations and sighting back into our first station to complete the loop, we
could see the end of our fifty-foot tape. By then, George's team had caught up
with us and they tied into our survey.
After checking some more leads, Barry found a dig that could be pushed at a
later, dryer time. We then headed for the entrance (or is it called an exit on
the way out?). Climbing out that slicky, crumbling entrance turned out to be
more of a challenge than we had expected. Somewhere along the way, very close
to the entrance, I felt the band on my five-dollar Walmart illuminator
wristwatch/timer/alarm snap. I figured that, if it did break, it would stay in
the sleeves of my sweatshirt and caveralls till I got out of the cave. But,
alas, it wasn't to be found when I got to the surface. It had fallen back down
into the entrance pit. I wasn't crazy about the idea of reentering the cave,
negotiating the sleazy climb down and back up the entrance to retrieve the
cheap, very worn watch. I thought about throwing a twenty-dollar bill down
into the entrance to make the watch retrieval more justified, but thought
better of it.
Now, every morning, when my newly purchased, replacement five-dollar Walmart
watch alarms and wakes me at the beginning of the day, I think of my old watch
alarming, at the same time in that cave on Shavers Mountain, waking all the
cave critters. I'll bet they're not happy! The alarm will probably interfere
with their sleeping, feeding and mating habits. As a result, a new, mutant,
endangered species might evolve causing the Forest Service to gate the cave.
All because I lost my watch!
Actually, I plan to retrieve it on my next trip on the Mountain, simply because
I don't believe in leaving stuff in a cave. Besides, there's that dig that
needs to be pushed!
Once outside, we surveyed the small blind valley and sink. We mapped 184.4 feet
underground and 369.15 feet on the surface. The cave is 49.8 feet deep. We
named it County Line Cave because of its proximity to the Randolph/Tucker
County line. George produced a very nice map from the survey notes.
By the time we finished our surface survey, Dave and crew drove up to where we
were parked. With plenty of daylight left, we decided to go to the head of
Three Spring Run to check out another promising lead that was found on a
previous ridge-walking trip. On the way up the valley, a few of us went to see
the Three Spring Run resurgence. With all the recent wet weather, it was
running strong. When we got to the head of the valley, Dave and Barry had dug
into the sink and had just about opened an entrance. With a little more
effort, Barry was able to slide in, getting very wet in the process. After
looking around awhile, Barry returned to surface to describe the cave as being
very drippy wet with a promising lead in the back. We named the cave Four Point
Cave after a deer skull we found near the entrance. We'll be back to check this
one out during dryer weather.
All in all, it was a very productive day. We surveyed three caves and dug open
another. The Shavers Mountain Project just keeps getting funner and funner.
Come join us! - R. Parsons
County Line Cave map, copr. George Dasher, 2003
During the June Shaver's Mountain weekend, we had a wealth of people, our
largest turnout so far. With most of the ridgewalking done, we decided this
time to focus on surveying what we had found, and maybe doing a bit of
digging. As we started up the mountain on the Forest Service road, we
stopped first at a couple of caves that had previously been misidentified
as the Jumble Sinks. We knew Jumble Sinks to be in another location, so we
referred to these as the Ledge Caves. While the others headed up the hill,
Dave West agreed to lead a survey party into these two caves. Karen Willmes
wasn't feeling well, and elected to wait in the van while Richard Hand and
Dan Peden helped Dave with the survey.
We went first to what we will call Ledge Cave, a bit further from the road
and a noticeably smaller entrance. Since the two were so close to each
other, we assumed they connected. This proved not to be the case. We
surveyed on in, despite problems encountered in getting Richard's back
brace past a constriction in the entrance crawl. Beyond the initial
constriction, we dropped down into an intersecting joint and stood up. Our
roominess was all too short lived, however. Ahead, the crawl quicly got too
small at the upper level, although digging seemed a possibility, nothing
seemed to go to the left on the upper level, and to the right on the upper
level was a very tight crawl that headed in the general direction of the
other entrance. On the lower level, a crawl to the left quickly became too
small to follow, although it appeared to open up some about ten feet
further ahead. The crawl to the right pinched out in only a few feet. The
crawl straight ahead also pinched out after only ten feet or so, but
intersected another joint that paralled the one in which we were standing.
This opened up slightly after about ten feet, when it picked up the
continuation of the other lower level crawl, and opened up still further
when a too tight ceiling channel came in. At this point it droppped into a
small pit, from which we could find no continuation. The entry to this
portion was more than Richard's brace could deal with, so Dan and I
surveyed it alone. After completing that, and failing to fit into the crawl
that seemed to head to the other entrance, we called it a cave.
Returning to the surface, we ran a quick surface survey (in the rain, yuck)
over to what we will call Ledge Pit. A much more inviting entrance, but
unfortunately, with less cave. After dropping in, we quickly determined
that the apparent lead to the right ended after only about ten feet, and
the lead to the left went only about twenty or so. It was raining, so being
in a small cave was still better than being in the rain, and we surveyed
the cave. What the cave lacked in length, it made up for in ceiling height,
reaching up to about 30 feet in some places. A nice little cave.
Returning to the cars, we all changed, and joined up with the others, who
were just completing their survey of a cave much closer to the county line.
After much discussion on what to do next, we all ran down to the Three
Springs area to pursue a dig there. Moved a bunch of rock, and got to watch
Barry Horner get unusually wet. But another small cave to survey at a
future date. Further digging may still get us somewhere in this one.
Shaver's Mountain Project
May 3&4 2003
By Rocky Parsons & Barry Horner
On Saturday morning, May 3rd, Barry Horner, Dave West, Karen Willmes, Bob
Alderson, George Dasher and I (Rocky) met at the Alpine Lodge in Alpena. After
over forty significant karst features during last month’s project weekend, I
had been looking forward to some more ridge walking on the east flank of
Shavers Mountain. There was a section between Three Spring Run and the northern
portion of the hillside that still needed checked out. The weatherman was
predicting a warm, sunny, beautiful spring day.
Barry wanted to continue work on the dig in Ogden cave, so
he and Bob headed in that direction while George, Karen, Dave and I headed for
the National Forest. We drove up a logging road above the limestone to a point
in the middle of the section that we planned to walk. We fanned out across the
outcrop and started walking north. We soon started finding solutional features
and GPSed the more significant ones. In a valley, we located an obvious, open
entrance where the mountain stream sank and decided it was Ginger Root Cave
(described in the WVSS Bulletin 13). We also located some sinks and finally
ended that portion of our ridge walk at Jumble Sinks Cave (described in WVSS
By this time, it was obvious that the weatherman had goofed. The air was cool
and there were intermittent showers with scattered sunshine in between. Still,
this is such an incredibly beautiful area that it was just great to be outside
enjoying the scenery and the spring wildflowers. We saw purple trillium, wild
geranium, purple, white and yellow violets, and a bunch of other varieties that
I couldn’t identify.
We then turned our attention to the area south of where we had started. Again,
we fanned out across the outcrop and began finding other interesting features
including sinks and resurgences. One of the larger resurgences was flowing
about two inches deep and eight feet wide. The water flows over a series of
ledges forming a moss covered waterfall lined with ferns. Unfortunately, I had
left my camera at the vehicle. A small opening above the water moves serious
air. The water from this resurgence forms the main flow to this unnamed
tributary. We decided this was probably Mint Spring #2.
About seventy-five yards away, we found a two-foot diameter sink under a
limestone ledge. The water in the creek dropped into the sink. The creek bed
below was dry. We figured this was probably another of the Mint Springs Caves.
As we finished checking the remaining section of the mountain, we GPSed a
couple more sinks, returned to the vehicle and headed north, into the area we
had walked last month. There, we found a very large sink near the
Randolph/Tucker County line with a small stream sinking into a large limestone
headwall. Nearby, we found a hole partly choked with leaves. We documented both
The project had six people this month. They were Dave West, Karen Willmes, Bob
Alderson, Rocky Parsons, George Dasher and I (Barry). I wanted to pick back up
where I had left off in Ogden Cave before winter so that meant that four people
were left to find more locations on the National Forest property between the
areas that were walked last month. We decided that Bob would go with me to
continue the dig. Actually everybody else decided not to go on the dig because
of their bad memories from the cold wet beginning that we had there. Instead,
Rocky led George, Dave and Karen off to the forest.
Now that the weather was warmer the entrance to Ogden’s was not sucking in
freezing air and the only downfall was lying in the water. As soon as we got
into the cave with all the gear and got set up I came up with a bright idea.
Why don’t we go and get the carpet pads from my van and lay them down in the
stream crawl. Since the water was only as high as the rubble it kept us fairly
dry and it was a whole lot warmer and softer. This was a good dig now! You
people that still haven’t got the picture of how sweet it can be on the project
must like more than warm lunches and cozy digs.
Not long after we had been working on the face I heard the sound of an ATV
coming down into the sink. I knew at once that it was the owner coming to check
things out since he was not at his home when we stopped by earlier that
morning. He was pleased to see that we were back to work on the cave.
Bob and I worked the whole day on the existing passage making it bigger because
the next step is to turn the corner to continue and we will need the room to
haul the rock out past our bodies in the 15 ft. crawl. We did manage to get
around the corner to get a better look at what’s ahead and sorry to say it’s
not getting any bigger. Bob said that he’s put less effort into better digs. It
may be nasty but it moves good air and is going into the hillside that has
reported known cave of decent size. As we all know by hard work, Caves Are
Where You Find Them.
Sunday was a day of rest for Rocky and I as we just did an overland survey from
resurgence to the Koetting Cave that Dave, Karen, and I done last year. This
will give us the elevation change to see how much cave we can push through by
digging in the down stream end of the cave.
So come play people! We’re having more fun than we can handle and need your
Shaver's Mountain Project
April 5, 2003
By Rocky Parsons & Barry Horner
On April 5th, Barry Horner, Rita Klimas, Mike Kistler, Rick Royer, Karen
Willmes, Dave West and I met at the Alpine Lodge in Alpena. The weather
forecast was calling for relatively warm temperatures with partly sunny skies.
Best of all, the snow was gone! The Forest Service, with help from Linda Tracy,
had recently issued us a key to a gate leading to the eastern flank of Shavers
Mountain. The 1995 Caves and Karst of Randolph County (WVSS Bulletin 13) shows
some cave locations in the area, mostly FROs, but large areas have not been
thoroughly checked out. We decided this would be a great time, while the leaves
are off, to do some ridge walking.
We drove through the Forest Service campground on Glady Creek to the gate
behind the old CCC Camp (now a WVDNR wildlife cabin). This road leads up Three
Spring Run, where a lot of the water from the caves in the area resurges. We
know from previous dye tracing by G.R.O.S.S. Grotto in the ‘80s that Shavers
Mountain Cave, a mile to the north and Schmidlens Caves, a mile to the south,
both resurge here. The limestone in this area of Shavers Mountain outcrops
quite a distance from public road and, farther toward the north, the outcrop is
high on the hill. Having vehicular access to this area saves a lot of walking
and hauling gear. In return for the use of these roads, we have agreed to
provide the Forest Service with information on the location of karst features
that we identify, maps of caves we produce and the results of dye tracing that
After studying topographic maps of the area, we decided to spread out and
search the contour hillside between the road and Three Spring Run. We had
radios for communication and GPS units for accurately locating interesting
features. It took us a while to get organized, but soon we were scouring the
hillside. We all kept in sight of the person on either side of us and we
stopped whenever a feature needed GPSed. Then, we would resume our search. It
didn’t take long for us to start finding deep sinks, promising leads, cave
openings taking or discharging water and openings moving air.
We spent the morning covering the limestone outcrop in the northern drainage
area of Three Spring Run and the area upstream of the spring’s resurgence. We
found LOTS of interesting stuff. A few were already documented in the Bulletin
13, but we found many other sinks that need checked out and entrances that need
pushed. The valley is loaded with promising leads. Just in this small area,
there is enough work to keep us busy for a LONG time.
After breaking for lunch, we traveled north to check the locations of Shavers
Mountain Cave and Natural Bridge Cave. We also walked to the entrance to a cave
that the 1971 Caves of Randolph County (WVSS Bulletin #1) named Jumble Sinks
Cave, but the newer Bulletin # 13 names Ginger Root Cave. Then, we spread out
across the limestone outcrop and ridge-walked to the north. Again, we found
sinks, openings discharging and taking water and openings moving air that
weren’t previously documented.
As the day wore on into evening, it was getting cooler and we were tired and
hungry. We finished our ridge walking near the Randolph/Tucker County line and
then headed back to Alpine Lodge for supper.
In that one-day, we documented more than thirty features on Shavers Mountain
that need checked out more thoroughly. It’s a beautiful area to work in and as
the weather warms into summer, we can camp at the Forest Service campground on
Glady Creek where we will be close to the features that need checked. Come join
us! We meet the first Saturday of each month.
Sunday there was also work to be done. Barry had told Karen that she was needed
to check the leads that the dig in Alpena Blowhole had produced. Since Mike and
I had left on Saturday leaving a group of five it was decided that Rita would
accompany Barry and Karen into the cave. Dave and Rick would stay on the
surface and do a survey to the Blowhole from the Alpena Cave entrance. This is
needed to determine the elevation difference between the dig and the end of
The push team found the entrance very sloppy because of the rain Friday. It was
a quick trip back to the dig and once down the pit at the end of the dig Barry
pointed out the water boiling up through the floor and then the tube that took
all the water. This is where Karen came in because it was only her size. Rita
looked down the tube and ask if that is where Barry intended to send her. He
said sure, she will fit! Well in she went and when she got to the point where
she had to go off a ledge and into the water she stopped to think for just a
second. The urge to see booty had done it’s job for Barry and no pushing was
necessary. Through she went and turned the corner out of view.. After awhile to
sounds of her crawling could not be heard over the water and no light could be
seen. Finally back she came around the corner head first meaning that there was
something big enough to turn around in. This was confirmed with a smile and an
“It Goes” all before getting out of the water. Barry said great, come on out
and will go get you a cup of hot tea.
Back at the surface the team had seen that they had even beat the survey team
to the entrance. After a short wait they came pulling the tape up the hill. A
tie-in and a short celebration took place and they all headed back to the lodge
for lunch before the drive home. A perfect end to a progressive weekend!
Shaver's Mountain Project
March 1, 2003
By Rocky Parsons
On Saturday morning, March 1, 2003, Barry Horner and I met at the Alpine Lodge
in Alpena. After breakfast, we set out to continue last month’s work on pushing
the Alpena Blow Hole Cave toward a connection with Alpena Cave. It sure is nice
having a good restaurant so close to the caving activities. The cave is within
walking distance of the Lodge.
Last month’s trek to the cave was made difficult by two feet of snow. We could
just about put our weight on the snow crust before breaking through. We had to
high-step all the way across the field to the entrance. This time, however, the
crust was hard enough that, most of the time, we could stay on top by stepping
lightly. Big feet are an advantage in a situation like this.
The temperature had started to rise to a balmy forty degrees, so the entrance
was very wet and muddy. On the way in, Barry enlarged a constriction that had
given me difficulty on the way out on last month’s trip. Climbing uphill in a
tight, very muddy slope, with limited footholds is a royal pain.
The trip back to the work area was pretty uneventful. The debris from last
month’s trip was cleaned up and Barry started working on moving material for
further progress. Crawling into the passage and trying to work with a pry bar
and hammer is difficult, but we were encouraged because we could hear what
sounded like a waterfall just ahead and the airflow was still going strong.
After moving a considerable amount of smaller debris and one particularly large
boulder, Barry yelled “we’re in!” Sure enough, the crawlway opened into a
ten-foot climb down at the top of a small waterfall. Curiously, the water was
boiling up out of the floor at the bottom as if it was under artesian flow. The
stream flowed around a corner and into a narrow, three-foot tall slot. The
passage continued going into the distance as far as we could see (about twenty
feet) before going around another corner. The passage could be pushed by a
small person, but they would get WET! Since we were getting chilled, we decided
to let that effort wait until a dryer, warmer day.
We noticed, during the trip, that the airflow seemed to change directions or at
least slow considerably. This was probably due to the warmer temperatures
outside. The steam and clouds caused by our work lingered in the passage and
limited visibility on our way out. Once to the entrance, I still had difficulty
getting up the tight, muddy, very slippery constriction that Barry had enlarged
on the way in. I’m looking forward to visiting this cave in dryer weather.
After we got back to our vehicles, we changed into dry, clean clothes and went
to visit Ted Ogden, the owner of another cave we worked on last fall. Then, it
was back to Alpine Lodge for a warm, delicious supper.
We were pleased that we had succeeded in breaking through the downstream
blockage in Alpena Blow Hole and had gained about forty to fifty feet of new
passage. The connection keeps getting closer. Hopefully, a trip to
Alpena-Alpena Blow Hole will be a through trip in the near future.
Shaver’s Mountain Project
February 1, 2003
By Barry Horner
February was true to a WV winter. Only five people
came out to play. The first idea we came up with to do was to ridgewalk above
the Ogden Cave that we got into a few months ago. This sucks a good amount of
air and I wanted to see where it’s coming out. Well good for us that we didn’t
find the landowner so we had to come up with a better idea.
After standing there in the cold we came up with
doing a surface survey from Alpena Cave up to the blowhole and tie in the two
cave surveys to see just where we are and where we have to go. Well in the
process of getting ready Rocky said why don’t we survey down after we come out
from the dig? I finally came up with the idea to just get under ground and stay
So off we went walking up the road to the field past
the woods. This would be the easy walk in. Well as soon as I stepped off the
road into the snow I got wise to how dumb our planning was. The snow had a
crust on it just hard enough to make you push your foot through. It also was up
to your knees in some places.
We found the sink nice and toasty from blowing warm
air. There was no snow in the bottom of the sink. This nice warming, however,
was making the entrance quite moist. The first ten feet was in soupy topsoil.
The trip in was pretty easy except for one person
who chimneyed down head first. Rocky was very pleased to see this size cave in
the Shaver’s. Everyone enjoyed the stroll back to the back of the cave. The
three guys went right to work looking for the shortcut around the dig while
Rocky and I got gear unpacked and after a half-hour we were sending the boys in
to clear the rubble at the dig. We made pretty good progress and it opened up a
view that was promising. I went back in and worked the next face one more time
and we decided that after the finale we would just head out because it was cold
and wet. Well two took off right on time and stayed in the clear, but the other
three of us got stuck behind gathering up gear. Needless to say we had a slow
trip out with the air moving as fast as we were, or us moving as slow as the
We met up at the bottom of the entrance room and
passed things back up the corkscrew entrance that Rocky loves so much. He said
he would have a new dig for the next trip in, not liking how I opened up the
So there you have it. We had a great time in spite
of the weather and we will have plenty of surprises for the folks in the
Shavers Mountain Project
December 7, 2002
By Rocky Parsons
Eight to ten inches of snow and frigid temperatures
weren’t enough to deter
five die-hard cavers from participating in
December’s Shavers Mountain Project
weekend. On Saturday morning I traveled to Alpena to
meet Berry Horner, Bob
Alderson, Dave West and Karen Willmes. Barry, Bob,
Dave and I bundled up in our
warmest caving clothes and headed to the cave on Ted
Ogden’s property that we
had dug into last month. As Barry headed into the
cave, I showed Bob and Dave
the small pit next to a barn that Amy Brown and I
started digging on in October
and a smaller pit beside a stream that Rick Royer
had located last month. The
first pit was blowing warm air and the second, just
around the hill from the
first, was sucking air. I dropped a smoke bomb into
the entrance by the stream
in the hopes that we could determine if the two pits
are connected. Although no
smoke was seen or smelled coming from the pit by the
barn, it’s possible that
we just didn’t wait long enough. Baby, it was cold
outside and we were anxious
to get into the relative warmth of the cave.
Once inside the entrance, we stuffed a plastic bag
containing a sleeping bag
into the entrance to block the frigid air flowing
into the cave. There were
iceothems in the entrance room and blocking the
entrance made for a much warmer
working environment. We immediately started working
on two digs going different
directions. Dave squeezed into the dig toward the
northern extension of the
entrance room and Barry began “adjusting” bedrock in
the downstream, western
lead. There was air movement in both leads. Bob and
I assisted by removing the
dirt Dave was excavating and the rock that Barry was
loosening while handing
tools and supplies as they were needed. There is an
inquisitive cave rat
residing in the cave that must have been wondering
what these strange creatures
were doing in his (or her) home.
Barry and Bob had to lay in frigid water in order to
retrieve rocks and dig in
the downstream lead. Dave had been working steadily
on the northern dig. It was
cold, tiring work and it was quite a relief to break
for lunch. It’s handy to
be working so close to a restaurant – we knew that
hot food really would hit
the spot. The hard part was stripping out of our wet
coveralls, knowing that we
would have to stand in the frigid air to put them
back on when we returned to
Karen, who was recovering from a cold, joined us
when we returned to the cave.
Dave had made enough progress on his dig that he was
hoping that Karen would be
able to push into an apparent upper lead. While she
and Dave continued pushing
that lead, Barry, Bob and I continued moving rock
from the downstream lead.
During a break, I tried unsuccessfully to get the
cave rat to pose for a
picture by giving it crackers and a piece of
chocolate. The rat has a large
supply of sand brier berries stockpiled by its nest
for the winter and didn’t
seem interested in the crackers. The chocolate was a
different story. It would
grab a piece of chocolate and retreat to its nest so
quickly that I was unable
to snap off a picture.
After working for a couple hours, it became apparent
that Dave and Karen’s lead
was not going to yield passage easily. Bob and Barry
were soaked and cold.
Karen was coaxed into trying a last ditch push into
the downstream lead. That
lead is narrow, twisting and hard to maneuver. After
Karen’s valiant but
unsuccessful effort, we decided to postpone work in
the cave until warmer
weather. The cave has promising potential because it
takes water and moves a
large volume of air. We’ll look forward to working
on it again this summer.
Meanwhile, there are plenty of other caves on
Shavers Mountain to work on this
winter and spring.
Shavers Mountain Project
November 2-3, 2002
By Barry Horner
This week's project was to continue on the dig in
the sink near the Alpine
Lodge. Since only Rick Royer, Devin Kouts, Rocky
Parsons, and I showed up
the milling about was at an all time low.
We were so fast in fact that we got to the
landowner's house before he got
pulled off to head to the north and a half-mile hike
we passed him coming home.
He was still happy to see us and that must have been
a good sign because this
was our lucky day.
It was a cold morning and the now six foot hole was
frozen crisp. The first
thing to do was to remove a large amount of rubble
and bridge that was our
ceiling entrance. Moving fast was an incentive to
keep warm and we had this done
Ah yes, a nice hot lunch in a restaurant not a
quarter mile away. We live good
on this project. Chile and Grilled Cheese what more
could you ask for.
Now back to the cave. At the bottom of the hole we
got to a big block that you’d
look around and feel the air blowing past. This week
it was time to get rid of
this BFR. Rick thought he would do the job with
‘Thor” his 15# hammer. Oh yea,
we had a variety of hammers. There was Thor, Percy a
medium weight and length
Nappy, a good five pounder. Anyway, after a little
more pounding, and rock
moving we got
The belly crawl was just big enough for Rick. And
just wet enough,
too! Once he was in we begged for a description but
not much was coming back so
we went for survey gear so we could head in. The
crawl was only three feet long
and you popped up into a room that was left by a
slab of the sink headwall
falling off. The room was about 30 feet long and 6
feet wide. At the far side
was a bedding part about 6 feet deep. The leads were
one in the far wall at the
floor and one up on the silt at the right end of the
room. We brought in the
hammers and bars and went to work on the breakdown
floor. After an hour or so
we could see that the passage was a small eroded
cross joint that would be too
tight to enter. This and the time were reason enough
to stop but the cold
blowing in after the sun went down was the kicker.
Good time to go back to hot
steak and beer only two minutes away.
Sunday we were back to break in again. Rocky had
left early yesterday so he met
us at the cave just as we were getting ready to dig.
After some rock removal
could see that this lead was turning right to
parallel the other lead. Since
the other was a dry dirt dig we moved over to that
one to see if we could get
in easier. We worked on that one for a few hours and
after working on a rock in
the floor we were close enough to get Rick in. With
webbing tied to his feet he
shoved himself in. It needed some more work but he
could see that it was
heading back to another sink and the wrong way.
So we were left with the wet tube which we will have
to mine for at least 4 to
6 feet. But not bad for a weekend, we have a cave
with good potential on our
second project weekend. This is also heading towards
another entrance that was
over looked on our first walk in a run on the side
of the knob (see Devin's
report below). So Come out and
play its there for the taking.
Another Shavers Mountain Lead
By Devin Kouts
Nov. 2, '02
While Barry and Rocky pulled the last few rocks from
the sinkhole dig
we'd worked on all morning, Rick led me around the
corner of the hill,
and up a ravine. We were going to check out a
resurgence there and see
how it flowed today. Along the way we had a quick
look at a small pit
located behind a barn. The pit blows good warm air,
but it's only about
8 feet deep. At the bottom one can see a small hole
through soil, presumably to cave below. But
obviously this will be a
dig project before any real cave could be found.
As we reached the ravine Rick commented on how much
more water was
flowing. The previous month's water had sunk into a
disappeared near the area where we now had to step
across the flow. We
looked at the area of the previous sink point, it
didn't look like a
very promising lead though.
Together we wandered up along the banks of the
stream, and ahead I
could see a very nice outcrop of Greenbrier
limestone. Even from 100
feet away the cross bedding was very obvious. I
asked Rick about some
of the dark, shadowy holes I could see in the
outcrop, and he said they
didn't go, at least the ones he had looked at last
month. As he and I
passed by the rocks we inspected the bottom and Rick
showed me a narrow
solution tube, with no air and too tight to worry
over. Then just a few
steps away, I nearly stepped into a small vertical
I was just ahead of Rick, and as we approached we
could both tell
something good was going to happen. I laid on the
ground, and stuck my
head into the lead. I could see floor about 5 feet
below me, and could
hear a small trickle of water. It was a little
tighter than I could
easily fit into, so Rick slid in.
After he reached the floor Rick reported back that
there was promise.
The cavelet didn't go far, but a dig could possibly
lead into the
hillside, and something better. As I stuck my head
in the lead I could
feel air flowing in around my ears. It was taking a
good breeze, so
this one could definitely use a little more
attention on some future
We left the lead behind and progressed up stream to
the resurgence Rick
had mentioned. Here too, the water flow was much
larger than the
previous month. We poked around a bit, walked up
stream some, then came
back and decided to dig a little at the resurgence.
Rick worked on the
right side as I worked on the left.
After 10 minutes Rick had a narrow crevice that
looked like it might
go, if a couple of offending rocks could be moved
out of the way. On my
dig, I was able to open a small alcove, but it
appeared to be solidly
walled on all sides, with no real hope of
continuing. So we turned
around and headed back downstream. Barry and Rocky
were going to break
in to the sinkhole dig soon, and we didn't want to
Shavers Mountain Project
October 5 – 6, 2002
By Rocky Parsons
Six cavers showed up for the first Shavers Mountain
Barry Horner, Chris Newton, Rick Royer, Scott Davis,
Amy Leigh Brown
met at the Alpine Lodge in Alpena. We traveled
south toward Glady to
pieces of property where Barry and I had checked out
last spring. A relative of Mark Burke, the
caver-friendly owner of
Alpine Lodge, owns one of the properties. The other
is owned by an
absentee landowner named Koetting. We parked along
the road and split
two teams. Barry, Amy and Scott headed for some
sinks near the Burke
property and Rick, Chris and I headed for a hole on
the side of a hill
the Koetting property.
Our dig was an open hole with a rock outcrop. Rick
slid in to check
out and found no air movement and no real leads.
The cave went under
hill about fifteen feet to a bedrock dead end. We
decided to dig at
base of the entrance, hoping to get under the rock
his belly, with his legs back in the cave, dug and
loaded a bucket we
rigged to a rope. Chris and I tried to loosen the
dirt and rock with
spud bar and shovel and hoisted it up after Rick got
it loaded. There
wasn’t a lot of room for Rick to work and on more
than one occasion, I
accidentally knocked a dirt ball into his face. One
of the dirt balls
big enough to knock his glasses off. Fortunately,
the dirt was soft
didn’t contain any rocks. Rick was very patent and
We had been communicating with Barry’s crew via
two-way radio. After
while, both crews simultaneously decided to give up.
In spite of
considerable amount of material, the digging did not
gains. Both crews decided to let nature work the
sites a little
so we headed for the vehicles. It was lunchtime
On one of our more recent scouting trips, Barry and
I had talked to
another landowner, Ted Ogden, just north of Alpine
Lodge. There are
several sinks and a shallow hole on his property
right along the
road. After lunch, we went to see if Ted was home.
Since there are
sensitive caver/landowner issues, we explained the
clause of the WV Cave Protection Act and assured Ted
that we had no
intention of adversely affecting his property.
After signing waivers,
agreed to let us check out his property.
Again, we split into two teams. The dig sites were
close enough that
could check on each other’s progress and offer
assistance when needed.
Barry, Chris, Scott and Rick began a dig at the base
of a sink that
obviously took water during rain events.
Amy and I started working on the shallow hole. There
wasn’t a lot of
in the hole, so Amy slid in and dug while I hauled
up the buckets of
and rock. Air blowing from behind a crack gave us
offered to trade places with Amy, but she was
excited at the prospect
opening a new cave and preferred to dig. She was
like a groundhog,
and rocks went flying!! Some material had to be
moved just to make
work, but the deeper the dig went, the more
promising it looked.
Meanwhile, Barry’s crew moved tons of rock from the
bottom of the
revealing a small low, tight stream passage.
rock has to be removed before more progress can be
made. You’ll have
read his trip report for the details.
Both crews worked till dusk, moving lots of
material. Both digs are
promising leads, but we all decided to stop working
before dark so we
walk a nearby sinking stream that Ted had told us
about. Sure enough,
stream disappears just west of the county road.
a resurgence. There are tons of Karst features in
the area that remain
be checked out.
We finished the day with supper back at the Alpine
Lodge. We had made
considerable amount of progress and look forward to
find new leads in this area of Randolph County that
has scarcely been
checked. Come join us on November 2nd.
Report from Barry
At the start of the day things did not look
outstanding as far as
impressing a new survey crew to take on a project
that they knew
about. The first digs of the day were not the most
jumped right in with no reservations. After a few
hours of digging to
what might unfold it was decided to let mother
nature take a turn. We
off for a little ridge walking before lunch and
found a few
features that I will keep my eye on this winter.
Meeting up for lunch
decided to work on something better later. This
took us to the Ogden
and some good looking sinks that took water and blew
air. The sink my
worked in had a lot of rubble both from the headwall
and from farmers
the past years. We made good progress digging down
to a stream level
where able to determine the way to continue. This
involved a little
persuasion to a large rock and the landowner had no
objections so we
proceeded until we realized that we will have to
back up and make the
entrance overburden more stable. Heading into a
late hour we took off
ridge walk again to check a run on the back side of
the hill we were
to get into to see some resurgences that the owner
told us about.
will also have to be watched this winter.
Sunday I decided that since everyone had been such
good sports with
complaints of the quality of the offerings that
Rocky and I put on
would be fun day! I lead the team and Kim Johnson
and a friend up
Cave for a sport trip and to show them some leads
that I will be
later in the project. Also to get them WET!
This was a very fun and successful first weekend and
I want to thank
that came out. Hope you all come back for more fun.