Shavers Mountain Survey Project
An effort by VAR cavers and beyond to locate, push and survey the caves on Shavers Mountain in Randolph and Tucker Counties, WV. The project meets at 9 a.m. on the first Saturday of each month at the Alpine Lodge in Alpena . To get involved contact Barry Horner or Rocky Parsons .

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 .

Barry Horner

NSS #41013


The Alpena # 2 Exsurgence - B. Horner, March 2004 The Mint Springs Exsurgence - B. Horner, March 2004


Shavers Mountain Project
Bob Alderson

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

Wristwatch Rescue

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 the road.
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 snow”.

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. G. Dasher, 2003
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 locating 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 Bulletin 1).

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 with GPS.


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 help!

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 we accomplish.

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 Alpena.

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 there.

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 air.

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 cave.

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 future.

Shavers Mountain Project
Ogden Cave
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 the cave.

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
Ogden Cave
November 2-3, 2002
By Barry Horner

Barry and Rocky work a dig on Shavers Mountain

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 home. As we 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. Barry puts Thor to work

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 by lunch. Another lead, behind a nearby barn, moves good air

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. Rocky looks on as Barry digs, note the rock pile

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 and Nappy, a good five pounder. Anyway, after a little more pounding, and rock moving we got into cave. While Barry sketches, Rick checks out breakdown where all the air seems to disappear

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. Rick begins to pull rocks, following the air

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 we 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. Nearly in, Rick passes his helmet to Barry for light

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 leading down through soil, presumably to cave below. But obviously this will be a dig project before any real cave could be found. Rick spies out a lead, with a knowing look on his face

As we reached the ravine Rick commented on how much more water was flowing. The previous month's water had sunk into a hole and 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 pit. Rick pushes into a new lead on, missed by the previous months ridgewalk

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 project weekend. Rick checks out the resurgence spotted last month

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 be scooped.  

Shavers Mountain Project
October 5 – 6, 2002
By Rocky Parsons

Six cavers showed up for the first Shavers Mountain Project weekend. Barry Horner, Chris Newton, Rick Royer, Scott Davis, Amy Leigh Brown and I met at the Alpine Lodge in Alpena. We traveled south toward Glady to two pieces of property where Barry and I had checked out some possible digs last spring. A relative of Mark Burke, the caver-friendly owner of the Alpine Lodge, owns one of the properties. The other is owned by an absentee landowner named Koetting. We parked along the road and split into 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 on the Koetting property.

Our dig was an open hole with a rock outcrop. Rick slid in to check it out and found no air movement and no real leads. The cave went under the hill about fifteen feet to a bedrock dead end. We decided to dig at the base of the entrance, hoping to get under the rock outcrop. Rick, lying on his belly, with his legs back in the cave, dug and loaded a bucket we had rigged to a rope. Chris and I tried to loosen the dirt and rock with a 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 was big enough to knock his glasses off. Fortunately, the dirt was soft and didn’t contain any rocks. Rick was very patent and forgiving.

We had been communicating with Barry’s crew via two-way radio. After a while, both crews simultaneously decided to give up. In spite of moving a considerable amount of material, the digging did not produce any promising gains. Both crews decided to let nature work the sites a little longer and so we headed for the vehicles. It was lunchtime anyway!

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 county road. After lunch, we went to see if Ted was home. Since there are some sensitive caver/landowner issues, we explained the landowner protection clause of the WV Cave Protection Act and assured Ted that we had no intention of adversely affecting his property. After signing waivers, he agreed to let us check out his property.

Again, we split into two teams. The dig sites were close enough that we 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 room in the hole, so Amy slid in and dug while I hauled up the buckets of dirt and rock. Air blowing from behind a crack gave us encouragement. I offered to trade places with Amy, but she was excited at the prospect of opening a new cave and preferred to dig. She was like a groundhog, dirt and rocks went flying!! Some material had to be moved just to make room to 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 sink, revealing a small low, tight stream passage. Unfortunately, some unstable rock has to be removed before more progress can be made. You’ll have to read his trip report for the details. Both crews worked till dusk, moving lots of material. Both digs are very promising leads, but we all decided to stop working before dark so we could walk a nearby sinking stream that Ted had told us about. Sure enough, the stream disappears just west of the county road. Farther upstream, there is a resurgence. There are tons of Karst features in the area that remain to be checked out. We finished the day with supper back at the Alpine Lodge. We had made a considerable amount of progress and look forward to future trips hoping 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 nothing about. The first digs of the day were not the most promising but everyone jumped right in with no reservations. After a few hours of digging to see what might unfold it was decided to let mother nature take a turn. We went off for a little ridge walking before lunch and found a few interesting features that I will keep my eye on this winter. Meeting up for lunch we decided to work on something better later. This took us to the Ogden property and some good looking sinks that took water and blew air. The sink my crew worked in had a lot of rubble both from the headwall and from farmers in the past years. We made good progress digging down to a stream level and 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 to ridge walk again to check a run on the back side of the hill we were trying to get into to see some resurgences that the owner told us about. These will also have to be watched this winter.

Sunday I decided that since everyone had been such good sports with no complaints of the quality of the offerings that Rocky and I put on them, it would be fun day! I lead the team and Kim Johnson and a friend up Alpena Cave for a sport trip and to show them some leads that I will be working on later in the project. Also to get them WET!

This was a very fun and successful first weekend and I want to thank all that came out. Hope you all come back for more fun.

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