Video/slideshow of the Kingston Saltpeter Cave NSS Preserve

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Video/slideshow of the Kingston Saltpeter Cave NSS Preserve

Postby graveleye » Sep 29, 2009 8:49 pm

Here is a little movie/slide-show I made from the past couple of years at the Kingston Saltpeter Cave NSS Preserve.

The preserve is not open much unfortunately so not many people have been able to see it easily. Currently it is closed once again due to fears of WNS... but I'm sure we'll be able to start taking some caver trips in there again one day soon.

But anyway, since this is an NSS managed preserve, I thought some might be interested in seeing a little bit of the cave and the some of the rest of the preserve. We do actually "work" the cave as you will see. Shannon and I are up there at least once a month to check the property, or work on a project. There's always something to do!

There are a couple of shots of Larry Blair and Joel Sneed, the guys who really pulled it together to protect this cave back in the late 70s and 80s, but mostly it's just shots of Shannon and I. Oh, and the arrowhead hunt really doesn't have much to do with the cave, asides from it's in the vicinity. The KSC is only five miles from the Etowah Indian Mounds, so no doubt the ancients knew about the cave and their weapons and tools turn up pretty frequently in the surrounding lands.

It's such an interesting cave and the land around it is beautiful, so I wanted to share with it you, since it part of the NSS and something to be proud of. The recovery of this cave over the past twenty-something years has been remarkable!! I saw it in the 80s before it was protected, and so I'm just amazed at how much it has changed for the better. In the decades and centuries to come, it will only improve more and more!

I'm new to making movies, so forgive me if it's primitive!!
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Re: Video/slideshow of the Kingston Saltpeter Cave NSS Preserve

Postby Phil Winkler » Sep 30, 2009 7:57 am

Kevin,

Shannon and you made a pretty neat video for a first effort. Nice work. You can watch any Ken Burns documentary for tips on how to mix a movie with still shots, how fast to pan, lap dissolves, etc., etc.

Oh, yeah..that fungus (?) Phallicmite at 6:02 was a riot! :big grin:
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Re: Video/slideshow of the Kingston Saltpeter Cave NSS Preserve

Postby graveleye » Sep 30, 2009 8:54 am

Those shrooms just "popped" up a couple of years ago, having never been noted in the cave before. After their bloom, they go back to a bunch of stringy white stuff on the cave floor, then come back again the next year. I should have put down a ruler - they're usually about 8-10" tall. Quite formidable.

That picture is one of the more tame ones. Most of the time they are not suitable for prime-time viewing. :laughing:

If anyone has a clue of what they might be, let me know.
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Re: Video/slideshow of the Kingston Saltpeter Cave NSS Preserve

Postby rvtec88 » Mar 30, 2011 7:17 pm

So are the Kingston Saltpeter caves just for the few special SNS caretakers to enjoy for themselves (which is very selfish!!) or can people interested in seeing their wonders (like myself) ever go in to view them? I do understand the need to keep destructive teenagers and drunk redneck partiers out of them so no more damage is done, But For a natural wonder like the caves to be kept from all but a few is SAD! I have visited climax and a few others here in my home state of Ga, but Kingston has always been kept off limits to me and my adult friends. :cave softly:
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Re: Video/slideshow of the Kingston Saltpeter Cave NSS Preserve

Postby wyandottecaver » Mar 30, 2011 7:31 pm

I like Graveleye and I was going to make a snide comment about honey and vinegar, but then I thought of another NSS Preserve...the John Guilday Preserve...and being a primary vinegar thrower there in order to change a poor policy, Ill just keep my thoughts to myself :)
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Re: Video/slideshow of the Kingston Saltpeter Cave NSS Preserve

Postby graveleye » Mar 31, 2011 9:53 am

Well, it is sort of a turn-off to be called selfish by a stranger. I'm actually one of the most generous guys out there, and people that know me will know I'm also pretty humble too. I'll try to not let us get off on the wrong foot here, but you really need to know more of what you're talking about before you assume the cave is closed so that only an elite few can go there.

You're correct in that the cave is indeed a treasure. That is why it is closed to the public. The cave was being "loved to death", and unfortunately people liked to show their love by spray-painting their names and obscenities in the cave. Indeed to this very day, we still have the occasional break in and have spent quite a bit of time and money for repairs to the gate and enclosures. Keep in mind that those of us who work the property do not get paid to do so, we're volunteers. We give of our time, effort and money because we love the cave and seek to keep it from further harm and destruction. If this is considered selfish, then we need to reevaluate the definition of "selfish".

It is very important that I note that this cave is not owned by the NSS. It is owned by a private organization, and administered by the NSS through a documented management plan. It is in our interest to keep the wishes of the cave owner in mind and to take care of their property as if it were our own.

The bottom line is that I have the key and it is my discretion as to who I take to the cave. Currently we do not do organized trips to the cave nor do we do grotto trips. (This might change in the future if and when the WNS threat dies down or goes away since we have a sizable bat population. The moratorium on group trips is due almost solely to WNS.) However, I do have the ability to take a guest to the cave and frequently do so. One thing is that I have to know you, who you are and what you're about. This means a face to face meeting beforehand, perhaps a series of emails and phone calls even. Call me timid, but I do not like being out in the middle of the deep woods with a complete stranger, no matter how armed I might be!!

Just two weeks ago I took a young man to the cave who I actually met right here on Cave-Chat. He was humble, friendly, and an amiable guy. He took the time to come to a Dogwood City Grotto meeting , on my invitation, to meet me personally. He seemed truly interested in caving and cave conservation so I had no problem taking him with me provided he had proper cave equipment which he had.

Incidentally, I introduced this man to another guy in the grotto and he has since been on several other memorable trips to other caves. He is now off to a good start in caving. If you are interested in caving, and it appears that you are, I highly recommend checking out the Dogwood City Grotto in Atlanta. This is the number one best way to find your way to the world of caving. Going it alone will often lead to frustration and a resentment of people who really are good, caring cavers. Caving is not a sat-in-your lap sport. You have to put some effort into it, and this might involve getting out of your comfort zone and do like I did many years ago: go to a meeting full of strangers and get to know them. It takes patience but it will be rewarded.

Case in point: People often ask me how I wound up on the KSC Committee. Well the plain and simple truth is that I asked. I emailed one fellow who never returned my emails. The other fellow who is the chairman does not own a computer and does not have email, so I took a pen and paper out and wrote a friendly letter to him. I offered to come help clean up, or do some work if only I could get to see the cave again (I had visited the cave in the early 80s before it was closed and had always longed to return to it). I certainly didn't start off complaining about the cave being closed. He was apparently impressed with my honesty and persistence and a few months later I was made a member of the committee and received a key to the property. It took some effort, but it was worth it. Not only do I have the responsibility of managing a cave preserve, I have made lifelong friends too.

Same goes for the DCG - I kept attending meetings and getting to know people. Now, not only do I have the opportunity to visit some fine caves, most of them much prettier than Kingston, I have met some of the best and most precious friends I ever thought I would have.

So, If you want to see the cave, and see other caves, I invite you to come visit our next DCG meeting which happens to be this coming Tuesday. We meet the first Tuesday of each month at the REI store at the intersection of Interstate 85 and Clairmont Road at 7pm. We enjoy having visitors, so do not feel like we are at all an exclusive bunch. Come on out and I would be happy to talk to you.

Kevin
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Re: Video/slideshow of the Kingston Saltpeter Cave NSS Preserve

Postby cavedad » Mar 31, 2011 11:56 am

Thank you Kevin for your efforts in conservation and kudos on the movie. I loved the way you incorporated the speleology of the cave itself with the cavers and the plants and wildlife that all thrive on the cave environment. Unfortunately, many of the old saltpeter caves have been abused because they are so well known and have been visited by so many people (often NOT conservation-minded). We need more cavers who are willing to donate some of their time to conservation.

The music was perfect too. I thought it might be Michael Hedges or Andy McKee until I saw at the end that you provided the soundtrack! I love that percussive guitar style that Hedges made famous.

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Re: Video/slideshow of the Kingston Saltpeter Cave NSS Preserve

Postby graveleye » Mar 31, 2011 6:54 pm

Thanks John, for the compliment. To me compared to Michael Hedges... wow. I am surely not worthy of that! He is an awesome talent.
I have a collection of acoustic music I've created and I keep meaning to put it out as an album... one of these days I'll get off my duff and finish it. I'm still three or four songs short of a whole albums worth of material.

Saltpeter caves are also already at a disadvantage because they were... well, mined for saltpeter. For anyone who doesn't know what goes into it, it's quite a destructive process. The cave floor in the KSC was lowered 10-15' in some places. The places where the floor consisted of flowstone over clay were destroyed over a century ago. The cave had literally been blown up all for the sake of getting the potassium-nitrate rich clay. Most of the formations are broken, and ones the miners didn't blow up, greedy rockhounds took later. Almost the entire cave floor is sift-stone now and nothing like it was 200 years ago. It's sad, but that's what is left.

The company that owned the cave before our people bought it was just about to dynamite the entire cave shut permanently. They had been sued by a spelunker who was trespassing in the first place and broke his arm. That sure would have been a shame if they just blew the whole thing up. It's in good hands now.

I was also thinking about the above poster who seems to think we're just being selfish and keeping it to ourselves. I don't know if they have been back to read any of the current posts, but I've been on the committee for almost five years now, and I don't recall anyone asking me for a trip in a long while. Usually if someone wants to go, they ask. My mindreading skills are weak, so speak up. The worst that can happen is the request is refused and with requests so few, I remember them all. Generally, if I refuse to take someone, it's because they have no equipment, or they are physically not up to the task. The only one I can think of that I flat told them no was a 90 year old man who wanted to go. He was not in good health and I told them sorry, but I can't accommodate them.
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Re: Video/slideshow of the Kingston Saltpeter Cave NSS Preserve

Postby BrianC » Apr 1, 2011 10:38 am

graveleye wrote: The only one I can think of that I flat told them no was a 90 year old man who wanted to go. He was not in good health and I told them sorry, but I can't accommodate them.

What! the cave isn't ADA compliant? Seriously, I have a good friend that has been in a wheelchair since being shot in the chest 35 years ago when we were younger, and I would love to get him into caving and rock climbing as I have seen some handicap folks do, but he has lost the desire.
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