Monday, April 30, 2007

[trip] Spring VAR 2007

Spring VAR 2007 was in Durbin, WV, and hosted by the Frontroyal Grotto. I arrived Friday and set up camp with the WVU Student Grotto. We were celebrating the grotto's 30th birthday, having become an official grotto of the NSS in April, 1977.

Saturday morning, a group of us headed to the Elk River and planned to do Bradshaw Run Cave, but the Elk was up way too high to even bother going to the entrance. Instead, we headed over to check out Just Cave and Justrite Cave, neither of which were very interesting (Just looked too sketchy to rig). I managed to forget my real glasses, so I spent the day caving in my prescription sunglasses - with StenLight on "turbo", I never knew the difference!

Group in the sloping entrance to Just Cave. L-R: Jason Thomas, Cullen Hencke, Josh Flaugher, Dave Riggs, John Tudek. Photo by John Harman

We then headed over to Dreen Cave, rigged to a sturdy chockstone, and rappelled down to check out the lower level. While there wasn't a lot to check out where we rappelled, it was very nice looking arching passage about 30 feet tall, which led to a very nice domepit with waterfall. Everyone ascended up, then we checked out the rest of Dreen. For an easy, mainly horizontal and dry cave, Dreen is quite enjoyable.

Cullen Hencke descends into lower Dreen Cave. Photo by John Harman

We all headed back to Durbin just in time for dinner. Thanks to the Frontroyal Grotto for providing a vegetarian dinner option! After dinner, I gave a short, nervous speech, and presented our faculty advisor of 30 years, Dr. Henry Rauch, a plaque on behalf of the WVU Student Grotto. Afterward, current and alumni members from every generation mingled, told old war stories, and ate birthday cake provided by Frontroyal - thanks again!

The plaque that we presented to Dr. Rauch. Photo by John Harman

WVU Student Grotto alumni celebrating our 30th birthday. Front: L-R: Melissa Parker, Quincy, Jason Thomas, Kirby, Tom Hay, Katherine Gurtler, Jessica Morning; Middle: L-R: Greg Adamson?, Bob Livingston?, Henry Rauch, John Harman, Dr. Garth Dixon, Scott Maphis, John Tudek, Dave Riggs, Jeff Bray, Mary Schmidt, Bill Balfour, ?; Back: L-R: Cullen Hencke, Josh Flaugher, Ryan Ellers, Kristen Matak, Brian Masney; Photo by Tim Bleech

On Sunday, everyone packed up, then went caving with Grotto alumni Scott Maphis and Tom Hay. We visited Tub Cave, which is located in an absolutely enormous sinkhole, and consists of one giant room. It was impressive to see, and the area is very beautiful. On the way back to the car, the local landowner stopped us and asked if we'd like to visit a small cave on his property. We crossed the street and popped into McKeever's Cellar, a cave perhaps 40 feet long with two entrances, and wooden bins where a farmer used to literally use the cave as a cellar.

Great shot of the big room in Tub Cave by John Harman

Tom's daughter Beryl in McKeevers Cellar. Photo by John Harman

It was one of the best VARs that I've attended, many thanks to the Frontroyal Grotto and to the members and alumni of the WVU Student Grotto for making it a great time!

See also: John Harman's photos of Spring VAR, Just, Justrite, and Dreen Caves, Tub Cave and McKeever's Cellar; Brian Masney's photos of Spring VAR 2007

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