June 17, 2017 Perkins Survey

The most recent survey trip in Perkins was very productive, as described in Amy Skowronski’s trip report below. I’ll try to add a few more details here, mostly on what my survey team found.

We got into the cave at 10:30 am, and travelling as a group of eight, it took us about 2.5 hours to reach the far side of the 800 Foot Crawl, where we divided into three teams and took off in different directions. I went with Steve Ahn to station EFC46 from the last trip, in the top of a large, exposed canyon traverse, headed northeast toward the Renegade Survey. While we expected that this might require rigging at a least a handline, we crossed the canyon without any difficulty and left the chunk of rope we brought along staged here for future rigging projects. After the exposed traverse, the passage continues at about 15 feet wide and 10 feet high for 150 feet to a complicated junction. This whole is area is quite nice, very dry, with many old formations, gypsum, and fossils. We spent quite some time surveying through the junction area, closing a loop, and setting tie-in stations for each of the going leads. I soon gave up on orienting ourselves to the 1973 map, since what we were surveying simply did not agree with the old map.

We continued northeast to another junction and doubled back to close another loop. In this area we entered a nice virgin crawl and turned back in going passage, to continue in the main trunk. Two major passages continue northeast from the second junction. We took the right fork, still heading toward what the original surveyors called the Renegade Survey area. We climbed a 10-foot dome in a side passage into another small virgin section, this one consisting of about 50 feet of nice, gypsum-crusted hands and knees crawl, which emerged in the ceiling of the main passage 50 feet before the dome climb, allowing us to close another loop. We then proceeded to close yet another small loop on the south side of the passage, before calling it a day at yet another junction, with the main trunk continuing with major air, and small, but promising canyon leads on either side. Our survey total was 1,155 feet.

Meanwhile, Nick Socky, Amy Skowronski, Carlin Kartchner, Elliot Edling, and Janet Manning had headed toward a junction near the Shale Passage, at the end of Carlin’s last survey in March. Amy and Nick took the left branch and surveyed 1,037 feet, as described in Amy’s report. They surveyed almost to the very end of this passage, as depicted on the 1973 map, nearly reaching the area shown as having a sound connection with the Renegade Survey.

Carlin, Elliot, and Janet took the right hand fork, and ultimately reached the Second Stream, which they followed upstream to close a 1,700 foot loop at the canyon junction where Steve and I started our survey. Carlin posted a trip report over at the Tri-Trogs site. Carlin’s team’s 1,039 feet gave us an impressive 3,230 feet for the day between the eight cavers. The trip out took only 1.5 hours and we arrived on the surface at about 12:30 am.

Back on the surface, I was able to reconcile the section Steve and I surveyed with the Roeher map. The old map is correct in its general orientation, but in the area beyond the first junction, a large loop is shown that doesn’t exist. What is actually a fairly narrow passage proceeding north is shown as a very wide section which branches and forms a major loop (it does not). But it appears this is drawn over a generally accurate line plot with the correct overall trend and location of subsequent cave features.

The line plots below show the June 17 surveys in blue (click the image, then choose “View full size” and zoom in for a better view). Current (resurveyed) cave length is now 30,017 feet (5.69 miles) and depth is 232 feet (Carlin’s team set a new low point in the Second Stream).

Nick Socky and Janet Manning provided some pictures from the trip. Thanks!


ACC Clean-up at Perkins Cave

OK, it’s been a busy summer for everyone, with not as much caving going on as preferred. Still progress has been made on a number of fronts. June 25, 2016 saw an ACC work day at Perkins Cave. Members of the Appalachian Cave Conservancy, Triangle Troglodytes, Flittermouse Grotto, and Walker Mountain Grotto cleaned up some run-away poison ivy and cleaned out the poplar tree entrance of several years’ worth of accumulated trash, to include a half-dozen tires, barbed wire, and random scrap metal. A full report of the clean-up can be found in the August 2016 NSS News, courtesy of Buford Pruitt.

In conjunction with the clean-up Jason Lachniet led a survey trip into Perkins with Tri-Trogs Carlin Kartchner  and Ken Walsh. They mopped up some loose ends, finishing the BCK survey in the mazy breakdown room beyond the 200 Foot Crawl. Following that thankless job (by the way: thank you, Carlin, Ken, and Jason!) they headed off into the 800 Foot Crawl section. Final footage for the trip was an impressive 1046 feet of survey.

Carlin, at the entrance.


Perkins Cave Project Weekends: June and December, 2016

There have been two project weekends since the last Perkins survey update.

During the Appalachian Cave Conservancy board meeting on June 20, 2015, Dan Henry returned to Perkins with Michael Rhinehart and newcomers Noah Landreth and Jennifer Daigle. They continued surveying in the maze of lower level passages beyond the Antlers, adding over 400 feet and identifying the first of what will probably be several connections back into the 1400 Foot Walk. While he was underground, Dan was elected to the ACC board, as were project regulars Bill Grose and Buford Pruitt. Congratulations, all!

The next day, Terri Brown, Buford Pruitt, and Janet Manning joined me for a relatively short trip into the cave, with the current definition of a ‘short trip’ being one that stays on the entrance side of the Torepeter Tube. We traveled quickly to the low junction room where the passage branches at the beginning of the 200 Foot Crawl and the Torepeter Tube and began our survey into a nice hands-and-knees passage headed south (that is, we made a right turn off the main route, rather than heading into the Torepeter Tube). The pleasant passage soon got small. We spent the day on our bellies in uncomfortable, but well decorated passage. We eventually tied back to the Forest Trail near the fallen formation room en route to Ghost Town and also to Bill Balfour’s 2007 DOM survey into one of the side leads off Forest Trail. Unfortunately, due to tight time constraints, we had to leave one decent looking lead unchecked.

Between the two trips, 1,041 feet of total survey (921 feet of cave length after some deductions) were added to the resurvey total during the June project weekend.

Following a summer and fall occupied with mostly non-caving activities, I was more than ready for a return to Perkins when the next project weekend was scheduled for December 5-6.

On Saturday, December 5, Janet Manning, Bill Grose, Eric Cueva and I entered the cave around 1:00 pm, planning a relatively short eight hour trip. We began by wrapping up some loose ends near the entrance in the Square Hole/Shale Crawl sections surveyed in June, 2014. While Eric and Bill waited in the lower level B-survey, Janet and I headed around to the Shale Crawl and made our way into the upper part of the canyon overlooking Bill and Eric. After some time wasted trying to find a reliable B-survey station to tie into, we were able to close a loop between the two levels. Processing the data later showed that the loop closed well, which is satisfying as it is a fairly long loop with survey segments done over a period of almost 10 years with many different cavers participating. The new survey standards and redundant backsights are definitely helping with overall accuracy. Bill and Eric met us back at The Ledge and we climbed into a segment of upper level passage overlooking the main canyon. Three splay shots in this upper passage segment completed this part of the cave. We continued out to the main travel route via the Shale Crawl and Square Hole and then proceeded to the lead left from the last survey in the low passages between the Torepeter Tube and the Forest Trail. It did not go far. This area is now finished as far as the resurvey project is concerned and should be avoided, due to its unpleasant nature and easily damaged formations. We exited to Forest Trail via a tight bit of passage that pushed the limits of what Bill and Eric could fit through. Undeterred, we followed the full length of Forest Trail to its southern end and scooted through the low passages connecting to the DOM Section. On the way, we noted the too-tight hole in the floor which was blowing strongly and is supposedly connected to the STP Room below. After identifying a suitable tie-in station in the main DOM canyon, we started surveying in the lower level of the Tight Place canyon, heading north toward the Tight Place, but at an elevation well below. Finally in decent sized passage, we quickly racked up a couple hundred feet of survey, ending at a junction with a perpendicular canyon that we assume will lead us to the STP Room next time. At this point, in theory, exiting the cave by way of the Tight Place and Historic Section should have been quick and easy. However, Bill did not fit through the Tight Place crawl, which necessitated a much longer route to the entrance, at least for him. He started out while I guided Janet and Eric through the Historic Section to the entrance. The route is easy, but too confusing to navigate on your own if you are unfamiliar with it. Then I doubled back and caught up to Bill at the Forest Trail junction. We made it out around 10:30, about an hour later than Janet and Eric. Bill and Eric headed for home, while Janet and I spent the night on the mountain.

Steve Ahn, Ryan Halsey, Zachary Taylor, Hunter Wyatt, and Emma Buchanan arrived in the morning. While we were waiting for them, Janet and I checked out the Poplar Tree (Wilson) entrance. Like the main entrance, it was blowing an impressive steam cloud. I used the opportunity to double check the entrance location with GPS. The coordinates will be used to tie-in Jim West’s 2006 era survey of this part of the cave to the main. The connection route was surveyed in 2007, but there are problems with the data and it will need to be redone.

We got off to a bit of a slow start and spent some time pre-rigging Swiss seat style harnesses for folks without a caving harness available in preparation for the rope climb up to the 800 Foot Crawl. We entered the cave at about 9:30 am and traveled easily to 1400-Foot Walk. At the Kidney Stone climb, we cleared some loose rock and rigged a piece of rope for use as a handline to descend to stream level. This is still an area with much loose rock and caution is required. We headed downstream to the climb up. This is an exposed 50-foot climb rigged with rope and everyone self-belayed up the climb using an ascender or prussik. All trips to the 800 Foot Crawl and beyond go up this rope. The minimum gear recommended is a harness and ascender with tether, plus a rappel device (we have also used Munter hitches, but these seem to be hard on the rope). The drop can be free-climbed, but going without a connection to the rope (as we did last time) seems an unnecessary risk. We entered the 800 Foot Crawl and followed it to the last survey station from May. The plan was for Steve’s team (Ryan and Zack) to enter a lengthy side lead on the left, while the rest of us continued in the main passage. As it turns out, Steve’s team ended up taking a left fork further along than we thought. My team had to survey a few hundred feet to tie-in to where Steve started, but also tried to pick off any little side leads on the way, knowing it would be hard to get motivated to return to them later. One of our side leads ended up going to such an extent that we finally had to quit or risk running out of time to tie into Steve’s survey. The passage is low and not particularly fun. It is also very pretty and quite delicate. We left our last station at a junction with passage going two ways. After we completed our section of the main 800 Foot Crawl to the other team’s first station, I went crawling along ahead to find them. They went left, but I went right, hoping the passage made a loop, which it did. Along the way, I noted a nice tall side canyon dropping off to the right. This apparently marks the end of the infamous 800 Foot Crawl and is the point where future trips will finally exit the endless sand crawl. First however, we will have to close the loop with Steve’s survey through several hundred feet of miserable belly crawl. No one ever said resurveying Perkins was going to be easy.

Moving at a rather fast pace, except for a bottle neck descending the rope, and using the stream passage to exit, it took us a bit over two hours to return to the surface, for a total time underground of 11.5 hours.

Our total survey for the weekend was 1,620 feet, of which I am counting 1,522 as cave length. This is presumably our last trip of 2015, which has been the biggest year yet in terms of survey footage, with a total of 6,400 feet. Current resurveyed cave length is now 4.54 miles. The line plot above shows the new survey added during the June and December project weekends.


Perkins Weekend May 2-3, 2015

We had a very successful weekend surveying in Perkins Cave on May 2-3, 2015. Nine cavers from Walker Mountain, Tri-Trogs, and VPI grottoes added 2,053 feet of survey, bringing the total resurveyed length to 4.13 miles. Five new loops were closed, two new climbs were completed (neither went), two digs were pushed, many leads were checked off, and many more identified. A complex two-level area near the H-Stone was completed, the Pole Room survey was extended, survey of the southern extension of the 1400 Foot Walk was started, and we brought our first survey line into the 800-Foot Crawl.

Zachary Taylor and Hunter Wyatt joined my team for Saturday’s trip, while Carlin Kartchner, Bill Grose, and Martin Groenewegen made up a second team. We all headed into together, installing a new waterproof box for the trip register, which we left with a fresh supply of station marking supplies. We signed in a little before noon. There were a few places wetter than usual on the route to the Forest Trail, but otherwise our trip to the 1400 Foot Walk was uneventful. Just beyond the Square Pit Traverse, we split up. Carlin’s group continued in large upper level trunk passage. They added 567 feet of survey in this southern extension of the 1400-Foot Walk, including a significant side passage not shown on the Roehr map, and there is much more to do in this area.

Survey teams study their objectives on the working map (photo by Bill Grose)

Survey teams study their objectives on the working map (photo by Bill Grose)

My team continued down the Kidney Stone climb and then downstream to the end of the 2007 X-survey and the furthest station in our resurvey at the 50-foot “Pit Up From Stream.” In 2007 I had replaced the 70’s era goldline rope at the climb with a newer piece of Bluewater, which still seems to be in fine shape. The climb up is moderately challenging and we did it without vertical gear, but anyone planning a trip in this direction should consider the option of wearing a harness and self-belaying with an ascender. We started our survey at the top, planning to tie-in to the stream level on our way out. We continued south in the dry upper level, which is the apparent continuation of the 1400-Foot Walk, passing by several attractive leads on the right side, including a virgin crawl right at the top of the climb up. While we didn’t survey into any of the major side leads, we did try to mop-up any dead-ends and surveyed around several short loops as we went. One of my goals for 2015 is to bring a main survey line through the 800-Foot Crawl and into the furthest reaches of the cave and on this trip we finally reached the infamous crawl. At the junction room where we thought the crawl began we found a two foot high sandy crawl, lined with columns and heading east, carrying significant air flow. Straight ahead, a canyon dropped several feet to a pair of low leads, one of which was a one foot high crawl carrying even more air than the one above. We surveyed both crawls and found they rejoin after a short distance, merging into a pleasant hands-and-knees passage that we followed for several hundred feet. The portion of the crawl we surveyed had a floor of soft sand and a ceiling covered with beautiful gypsum clouds and snow balls. Average dimensions were roughly six to ten feet wide and about three feet tall, making fairly easy going. When we judged we had just enough time left to tie-in our survey and rendezvous with the other team, we reluctantly turned back. I estimate that we stopped just short of the first junction shown on the Roehr map. The passage beyond where we stopped appears to continue with the same character, but we did not scout ahead.

Back at the pit, Hunter led the way down and we were able to cover most of the distance with a 32-foot plumb shot (the total depth worked out to almost exactly fifty feet). We had a few minutes to spare, so we continued the downstream survey for a few shots before packing up our gear and heading back. We ended up with a satisfying total of 44 shots for 915 feet. We travelled out via the stream passage along with Carlin’s team and were back on the surface sometime a little after midnight. Bill and Hunter headed for home, while the rest of us ate dinner and crawled into tents for a few hours of sleep.

Clinch Mountain sunrise

Clinch Mountain sunrise

Sunday morning, we were joined by three VPI cavers: Amy Skowronski, Andrew Lycas, and Calvin Long. They went with me, with our primary objective being to wrap up the loose ends in RC/PI surveys from January and March this year. This area is east of the 1400-Foot Walk at the passage’s north end and is developed on two levels, with four known connections back to the main passage. We ended up adding 211 feet survey and checked many leads, including two digs and two climbs. One dig is still going, otherwise this area is now considered finished. This section of the cave contains 1,859 feet of passage. We left a shovel out in the main passage for any future digging teams. The climbs had been marked as possible bolt climbs, but we were able to ascend them using several joined three-foot section ladders that had been left at the Square Pit Traverse (they had been meant to provide an option to descend immediately at that point, rather than traversing, but they did not work out for that purpose). We left five ladder sections staged in the 1400-Foot Walk (there are more in the Humming Room) and a 50 foot rope at the Kidney Stone climb (for a future rigging trip). On the way out, we also closed a loop in the stream passage downstream of the Kidney Stone climb and noted a high canyon passage that probably connects to Carlin’s survey from Saturday. This needs to be checked out next time.

Meanwhile Carlin, Martin and Zachary added 360 feet of survey in a complex breakdown area off the Pole Room. This also allowed Carlin and his team the opportunity to learn the routes through this part of the cave, which were new to them.

Everyone was out of the cave and heading for home by around 4:00 pm.

Line plot showing the new survey

Line plot showing the new survey

Loose ends of March – another long-delayed trip report

March started with a flurry of underground activity, but things for the grotto that month kind of peaked around mid-month, for a variety of reasons. A few of us managed a survey trip into Perkins Cave on March 14, 2015. Two teams went in to the upper end of the 1400 Foot Walk area to close some loops and investigate some “dig?” notes in that area. Travel to the survey area was via the traditional Ghost Town Junction to H Stone area by way of the Tornpeter Tube.

Jason Lachniet led the survey, accompanied by grotto members  Steve Ahn, Emma Buchanan, Bill Grose, Zachary Taylor, and Hunter Wyatt. Accompanying the two teams was Flittermouse cousin Janet Lyons Manning. We split into two teams: Jason, Bill, and Janet on one team, Steve, Emma, Hunter, and Zachary on the other. Total footage for that day ____? We did, however, meet our goals in closing the targeted loops and investigating the “dig?” notes. One dig clearly ended at a low head wall, but another holds promise. Jason was able to advance a low dig under a bedding plane through a sandy floor, gaining about 30 feet in 30 minutes. Plans are to push that dig a little farther on a future trip. The trip concluded by exiting via the shorter, but not-so-pleasant stream route at the end of the 1400 Foot Walk. Parts of the stream route are very pretty, but also very wet and very muddy (and very hard on the knees, crawling over cobbles.) Total new footage for this trip was 940 feet.

A few random photos from the trip….


Zachary coming through the Tornpeter Tube; the H Stone


A cave dog (?) mysteriously ended up my pack; one of several gypsum flowers spotted on this trip.


Dinner in a gypsum-lined room; one of many clusters of antler helectites spotted on this trip.

2015 surveys

Areas surveyed on the January and March 2015 trips circled in red.

Perkins Nov. 1-2, 2014

Despite an early winter storm, we had another successful weekend of surveying at Perkins on November 1 and 2, adding 1,100 feet of new survey beyond the Ghosttown Junction.

Formation area near EJ62 (photo by Bill Grose)

Formation area near EJ62 (photo by Bill Grose)

Following the Saturday ACC meeting at the Gray Fossil site, I met up with Steve Ahn and Bill Grose in Meadowview. The small amount of snow on the ground did not present too much trouble on the way to the cave, though when Steve’s farm truck lost traction crossing the hay field on the way in, I had doubts about our prospects for getting back out. At the cave entrance, an impressive cloud of steam was blowing out and forming what seemed like a localized rain shower over the opening as the moisture condensed into water droplets. We traveled easily along the route to the Ghosttown, then proceeded north through passage mapped on trips earlier this summer. The passages in this area are generally quite large, with occasional pits and connections to some extensive lower level gypsum-lined canyons. Only one unpleasant (and not very safe) drop known as Sand Pit connects this part of the cave back to other known passages. Our first objective was to complete the survey of a small side passage, which quickly pinched. The start of this crawl is lined with gypsum and features a ribbed flowstone deposit on the floor that calls to mind the spine of an alligator. After mopping up this loose end, we continued to station EJ62 on a narrow saddle bisecting two pits, with booming passage continuing on to the north. Picking a route down into the large room, we surveyed north past some impressive formations, and passing several attractive side leads. The main passage terminates in a wall of breakdown about 200 feet beyond where we started. We mapped several routes through the large breakdown, eventually dropping into a nice going passage on a lower level, where we ended our survey for the evening. We found many fossils in this area, including an area with many loose rings, apparently individual sections of crinoid stems. The trip out was uneventful, though the drive out was a bit exciting in Steve’s truck. Bill did not seem to have any trouble. Our survey total was 635 feet.

Crinoid columnals (photo by Bill Grose)

Crinoid columnals (photo by Bill Grose)

After a short night of sleep, I met a a new crew of surveyors in Meadowview early Sunday morning, Emma Buchanan and Hunter Wyatt. Buford Pruitt joined us at the cave to round out our team of four. After suiting up, we quickly reached the leads from the previous evening. Travel time to this area is about an hour at a fairly easy pace. We began with a side lead branching to the east from the main passage. It was pleasant, mostly hands and knees crawling in dry passage, but it did not go very far. Picking our way down through the breakdown lining the west edge of the main passage, we resumed surveying at an attractive arch topped with stalagmites, which marked the limit of the previous day’s penetration. We went south first and I guessed we would emerge in a canyon visible from the large room below EJ62, but instead, the passage quickly ended. Continuing in the other direction, things got progressively muddier as we approached a pit surrounded by breakdown and highly fractured walls and ceiling. A trickle of water enters and drains through the bottom of the climbable 20 foot pit. Skirting around the top, I attempted to find a way onward through the breakdown, but could not. A short side passage doubled back to the south though and so we surveyed it. Then we returned to the large room where we had started and climbed down into a parallel canyon trending north. This is the passage I though would connect to from the other side. Good air in this passage urged us onward, but after a little over 100 feet, the passage ended at a series of what Buford characterized as “rat holes.” Not content to stop, I dug at the end and succeeded in popping out into a large walking passage. My momentary excitement dwindled when I saw survey stations and footprints. I had created a loop connecting back to the passage south of the breakdown pit. The only thing left to survey in this part of the cave was a short segment of large walking passage going south from the saddle under the main passage, which we completed in just two shots. There seems to be some lower level development here, but everything is filled with breakdown and mud. I dug open one drain along the lower wall and was able to access a 15 foot virgin pit. A trickle of water can be seen flowing across the bottom, but there is no way on without further and extensive digging. Our survey total for the day was 465 feet. After deducting some long tie-in shots across previously surveyed passage, we added 1,006 feet of length.

Though the strong air currents suggest there may be more to find, I believe these trips have wrapped up everything in this part of the cave. Collectively, the section of cave north of station E1 at the Ghosttown Junction contains 2,400 feet of surveyed passage. While we made no major new discoveries in this area, our map will show a great many side passages and details omitted on the 1973 map. If one avoids the worst of the muddy breakdown areas, this part of the cave is worth visiting. Current resurveyed cave length is now 3.45 miles.

Line plot showing new survey from Nov. 1-2

Line plot showing new survey from Nov. 1-2

Perkins Resurvey

On Saturday, March 8, Jason Lachniet, Bill Grose, Julie Slater, Emma Buchanan, and Carlin Kartchner met in Meadowview for another survey trip into Perkins. We made plans to split into two teams: Bill and Carlin heading north from the 200 Foot Crawl and Emma, Julie, and I heading north from Ghost Town. We started in at about 11:15 and traveled together to the Ghost Town junction. I then pointed Bill and Carlin the way to the start of the Torepeter Tube and the 200 Foot Crawl and we parted ways, with a rendezvous time set for 8:00 pm back at the Ghost Town junction room.

Each team started by surveying into known “dead end” leads before starting on their primary objectives. As it turns out, these two “dead end” passages meet, and though it was too tight for any of us to fit, Emma was able to push far enough forward to leave our last station at a point accessible to Bill and Carlin and so the loop was closed and 100 feet of new length added. Bill and Carlin went on to survey 475 feet of probably virgin (definitely not on the original map) low passage connecting the 200 Foot Crawl to the H-Stone area, tying into some of Dan Henry’s 2008 survey stations. Carlin’s report posted below and at the Tri-Trogs trip blog describes their finds.

After the connection crawl, my team took a couple shots around the large junction room at the entrance to Ghost Town and left a tie-in station for a future survey of this very delicate area.  After defining this room, we started down the very pleasant main passage. Emma and Julie both had previous survey experience, but were fairly new to reading instruments. However, they both persevered and spent a long day shooting front and backsights to two degrees of agreement. By the end of the day they had both become quite proficient and I look forward to many more surveys with this team. The passage we surveyed is a large trunk heading generally north. This is shown on the 1973 map, but we also added several short side passages which do not appear. At our furthest penetration, I scrambled down a narrow 20 foot pit that connects to a complex area of gypsum crusted canyons. These likely connect back to the area Bill and Carlin were surveying, but closing this loop had to wait, as our allotted time had run out. We also surveyed into a lower level canyon that doubled back under the main passage and left this as another attractive going lead.

Altogether Julie, Emma, and I mapped 600 feet, for a total of 1,075 feet for the day. Resurveyed cave length now stands at 14,853 feet. We climbed out of the entrance to a beautiful night sky a little before 10:00 pm to conclude another fun and productive day. The line plot below shows our surveys in blue.


Carlin’s trip report, Perkin’s survey March 8, 2014

Carlin’s trip report, Perkin’s survey March 8, 2014

From the Tri-Trogs blog post, here’s Carlin’s trip report on our team’s portion of the March 8, 2014 survey at the end of the 200′ crawl. There’s still more he and I need/want/must survey!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe most exciting discovery of the day?

I have mixed feelings about cave re-survey. Part of the thrill of cave survey is the chance to document something no human has ever seen before, but if someone has already “surveyed” a cave that puts a slight damper on the motivation. Having heard that Perkins was being resurveyed I figured I’d join in on a trip because I knew getting into that cave often involves jumping through a few hoops. Knowing also that nearly 10 miles were mapped in the original survey had me skeptical there would be much low hanging fruit. Turns out I was wrong.

I drove up early Saturday morning partially in hopes of avoiding bad weather we’d had on Friday, but I still got more than I wanted. It was sunny, but between Greensboro and Winston-Salem there was a lot of ice, and I may have passed more accidents that morning than I’d passed in total in my life before this trip. Needless to say it was a bit unnerving, but soon after I’d decided I was going to call Jason and head home, things started clearing up, and after around Pilot mountain things cleared up so much so that most of Virginia seemed relatively dry with no snow or ice seen anywhere. Ultimately I met up safely with everyone, we piled our gear in Bill’s truck and we were off.

???????????????????????????????En route

The cave was as expected, very beautiful, and had a pretty friendly route for the 45 min it took us to get out to our leads. Once there we split into two small survey groups, but were working fairly near each other. My team was just two people consisting of myself sketching and doing foresights while Bill set stations andread backsights. We started with a side lead that was basically just a debris blocked passage parallel to the 200’ crawl on the old trade route. This wasn’t too interesting until we made a voice connection with the other team. We found by moving a few rocks we were able to make a tight surveyed connection to the other team. Pretty cool.
After working that lead Bill and I returned to our main lead which had some beautiful gypsum crusted passage just below us that was perhaps 10’ wide and 15’ tall. We were excited the whole day about surveying it, but we never got to it. Bill explored a lead on the other side of the down climb into that canyon which he thought we’d finish in 3 stations. Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha…
All it took was moving a couple rocks and Bills upper level crawl kept going. We ultimately made a couple loop closures and killed a few leads which we connected to in another part of the cave. It was pretty thrilling and it’s highly likely that most of that area was virgin. It was all low crawling, but never was it terribly uncomfortable. Most of the survey shots were easy to sight in both directions. We surveyed everything in our area leaving no new leads, but never did get to that canyon passage. Even though Bill and I still had the energy to keep going we had a relatively early call out time so we packed up and headed out around 9pm. This was fine as I was still tired the next day though that may just be because I forgot about the DST change when I set my alarm.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFrosty formations at the end of a side passage we surveyed.
After the trip everyone else who lived relatively close headed home while I headed to my favorite field house, Tanya’s. She’d opened her home for me and even made me breakfast in the morning which I thought was especially kind. It was nice to be able to hang out for a while one-on-one since I’m usually over there with a relatively large party. The downside to being there without other Trogs was that Bo could not be handed over to someone else so I spent a lot of time petting that demanding beast. Possibly the hardest thing I did all trip. It was a good weekend.

In summary, consider carpooling up to help on this project next time I go up. I think you’ll find surveying in Perkins worth your time. To find out how the other survey team did, a trip report is expected be posted to the Walker Mountain Grotto’s blog soon. https://walkergrotto.wordpress.com/

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAntler helictites near station TP15A

Perkins Trip Report 1-25-14

Participants: Bill Grose, Steve Ahn, Cindy Baubach, Jason Lachniet
Time in: 11:30am
Time out: 8:45pm
Total survey: 337.8 ft
Number of shots: 21
New cave length: 314.3 ft

Our objectives on this trip were to check out some question marks on the working map of the historic section near the entrance, close a small loop near the start of the Antlers survey, and then proceed to survey leads from the start of the 1400-Foot Walk.  We never made it to the 1400-Foot Walk, but instead pushed another lead and found a nice chunk of virgin passage.

After passing the entrance register, I spent about 20 minutes checking things out and making sense of some of the 2005-2006 era sketches near the entrance.  I think I have everything figured out now and on the next trip, we should be able to wrap up that area quickly with perhaps just a few shots.  With that settled, we headed to the start of the Antlers passage.  While the rest of the party took a look at the Antlers, I checked out a passage noted on the last survey indicating 3-4 shots needed to tie in to the 2008 H-Stone survey at H3.  Partway up this steep, low connecting passage, I noted a good potential dig on the left that appeared virgin.  Once we got started with survey, Cindy worked on this dig, as Bill, Steve, and I surveyed past to close the loop.  Cindy quickly made it through and we continued the survey into this new passage.  It turned out to be a pleasant, mostly hands and knees passage, full of sparkly sand crystals and a few nice formations.  We pushed several leads, including another quick dig that gained another 35 feet.  In the end, everything pinched, but we added 217 feet of virgin cave.  This underlies the area between the Torepeter Tube and 200-Foot Crawl.

With that lead taken care of, we headed back out to H3 and surveyed back to southwest, tying in to the 200-Foot Crawl survey, before calling it a day.

Here is a line plot showing our survey in blue (H50-H68):

Perkins 1-14

We returned to find several inches of new snow on the surface and had an exciting drive back to town.  The highway had not been plowed or salted; we found out why when we passed the VDOT plow stuck in the ditch at the bottom of the mountain.