Trip Report Bone/Norman/Solid Stone/Friars Pit/Clarks

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Trip Report Bone/Norman/Solid Stone/Friars Pit/Clarks

Postby frbarton » Jan 8, 2016 7:19 pm

Photos: https://www.flickr.com/gp/37202021@N06/y51q94


This past Sunday, my caving buddy Courtney and I headed out to Western Virginia for a bit of caving. Our goal was to head over to Norman cave, then do Clarks and Friar's Hole over the next few days. Unfortunately, the complete and utter lack of Verizon Cell service, coupled with a late start for both of us meant that we didn't actually do any caving our first day. Instead, we ended up crashing at the RASS Field Station early. It was a cold, cold night and we were definitely glad to have each brought two sleeping bags!

Monday morning, we headed over to Clark's Cave. The landowner was not there, however, so we were unable to obtain permission. At this point, we decided to try our luck at Norman Cave. Upon arriving at the cave, we were quite frustrated to realize that we had managed to bring only 1 helmet. Having driven so far, though, we were not going to give up so easily. Norman was quite interesting as we located three entrances and explored each in turn. The first, we found after battling extensive thorns, was blocked off by debris. The second was a nice little squeeze which was filled with about three feet of water. Not having brought wetsuits and mildly concerned by the snow, we decided to abandon this entrance as well after the first hundred yards or so didn't appear to be getting any more dry. The third, much higher entrance, was pretty typical West Virginia Caving. The entrance breakdown room was a bit sketchy but we explored it pretty thoroughly and found a marked passage down through the breakdown. The passage was very tight and was pretty much completely breakdown. While lowering myself through part of it, a helmet sized rock I was weighting fell on my chest and we decided this too was a poor choice without another helmet. Unperturbed, we exited the cave and headed back to the car.

We drove over to Friar's Hole road and spent a good two hours searching for the entrance. While we found numerous promising sinkholes and lots of limestone, there was no cave entrance to be found. We drove over the the local Firehouse in Rennick to ask them if they knew where it was. They were very nice (and have some cool fire trucks worth seeing) but only knew the cave was off of Friar's Hill Road. They were actually nice enough to lead us directly to the best parking for Bone cave, though.

We had heard how dry Bone Cave is, but still were not even close to prepared for it. It was incredible. The floor was probably six inches of dust which was thrilled to cover everything we brought into the cave (including my poor camera). We were also lucky enough to see about thirty Brown Bats and luckier still to see some of them flitting about. It was pretty awesome. We explored four to five miles of Bone and it all pretty much remained the same. There were long bore tunnels separated by tight, tight squeezes. Some of the tightest ones have been hammered out a bit, but they are still a little tight for my taste.

Upon returning to the car, we were absolutely covered in dust. By far the most that we had ever had. I was a bit sad about this as it covered my new car, but such is caving. While driving back to the Field Station, we realized that we had managed to both leave our wallets at camp (sensing a theme, here?) so would be unable to get food as was our plan. We rolled into camp at 830, grabbed wallets, traded cards, and drove to Staunton for a late dinner. We ate at Mill Street Grill and had some BBQ as is our tradition on caving trips and was really quite good and turned right back around to head to camp. Over the night, we were awoken by some noises outside and were lucky enough to see a black bear a hundred yards or so away from us. He (she?) was quite unperturbed by us and continued on his way.

For our final morning, we headed back to Clark's and again, no landowner. While we debated doing it anyways, decided to take the high road, and skip it. We instead drove over to check out the entrance to Marshall's (since it's closed and a sketch cave anyways to go in without everyone having helmets). We had a nice walk and saw some pretty cool icicles. For our final stop, we went to Solid Stone cave and the owner was kind enough to let us go on a self-guided tour. We were pretty thrilled as we literally just knocked on their door and told them we had heard of their cave! Unfortunately, no pictures, but suffice it to say what they're doing there is amazing! The cabin on the cliff would be a great place to spend some time.

Sadly, this was all that we had time for, and we were pretty bummed to have failed to do a single vertical cave. All in all, though, just getting underground was great and we can't wait for our next TAG trip in the Spring.

Off topic, but if anyone has any tips for dealing with lens fogging and keeping lenses clean for DSLRs caving, I'd very much appreciate it!
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Re: Trip Report Bone/Norman/Solid Stone/Friars Pit/Clarks

Postby cavewizard » Jan 11, 2016 11:40 am

Hey man! Great post and nice pictures! Glad y'all had a fun time out in Bath County. So just for your knowledge, if you were unaware, and if we're talking about the came Clark's Cave in Bath county, that's closed for the winter. Breathing and Clark's cave are the two big ones in Bath that are closed off for the winter for bat hibernation.

Here's a list of the closed caves in VA. Just make sure you check to make sure the cave you visit isn't on the list!

http://var.caves.org/index.php/conserva ... s#virginia
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Re: Trip Report Bone/Norman/Solid Stone/Friars Pit/Clarks

Postby GroundquestMSA » Jan 13, 2016 5:48 pm

Is the photo of the large entrance the first one you describe from the Norman area? Sounds like the cave (Mann?) that takes the Richards water and pipes it into Norman. I don't think that the connection is humanly passable.

frbarton wrote:The second was a nice little squeeze which was filled with about three feet of water.

This is Richards Cave, and is very fun in hot weather as a bath after getting out of Norman. It is wet, noisy, and pretty.

Is the "Devil's Pinch" still visible above that section of Bone? I have heard that it was enlarged not long ago.

Sorry I couldn't be more helpful with Friar's, still can't find my coordinates.

Thanks for letting us know how it went.
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Re: Trip Report Bone/Norman/Solid Stone/Friars Pit/Clarks

Postby frbarton » Jan 14, 2016 4:58 pm

Pretty sure that you're right about that being Richard's cave. Is that a substantial cave? Worth going back to in the Summer?

And yeah, the pinch is obvious in Bone but has also obviously been enlarged. It was still pretty tight for me, but i'd say they made it 3-4 inches taller then it was. The firefighters we met said that it had been done a few years ago.
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Re: Trip Report Bone/Norman/Solid Stone/Friars Pit/Clarks

Postby GroundquestMSA » Jan 14, 2016 5:56 pm

I don't think Richard's is very long, maybe 1000'. It's neat if you're there anyway, but not a "destination cave" exactly.
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