New Caver from Highland County, Va

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New Caver from Highland County, Va

Postby Chief943 » Nov 11, 2011 8:03 pm

Hello all,
My name is Mark, I'm recently retired and 48 years old. I moved to Highland County about a year ago and fell love with caving through a strange series of events.

I bought a place on the Bullpasture river and within 4 months we had a major flood. Lo and Behold a stream came shooting out the side (not down) the mountain behind my house. A new sinkhole! Some local (and very experienced) cavers checked it out and we ended up inserting a culvert in it to stabilize the entrance. Unfortunately it was sumped at river level and we haven't done anything with it since.

But the cave on the hill is different. It is very small and requires blasting to clear it out and that is what I've been consumed with recently. That and any other digs I can get involved with. The engineering I have seen on some of the local digs is simply amazing....and oh yeah, the caves are cool too. And the people. I love the community.

There are many caves withing 30 minutes' driving distance of my house and most are privately owned. And the owners are mostly very good cavers. And I have time on my hands and enjoy the digs too, so...a caver is born.

Love to read the stories here.

Mark
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Re: New Caver from Highland County, Va

Postby Scott McCrea » Nov 11, 2011 8:32 pm

Exciting stuff, Mark. Welcome! Post some pics. I'd love to see what you're working on.
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Re: New Caver from Highland County, Va

Postby Squirrel Girl » Nov 11, 2011 9:44 pm

Sump???? Did someone say "sump" here in Virginia? Tell me more about this sump. No sense diving if the water level will drop in drier weather. But if not, I call first dibs on diving it!
:woohoo:
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Re: New Caver from Highland County, Va

Postby GroundquestMSA » Nov 11, 2011 9:48 pm

Squirrel Girl wrote:Sump???? Did someone say "sump" here in Virginia? Tell me more about this sump. No sense diving if the water level will drop in drier weather. But if not, I call first dibs on diving it!


There are three Va. sumps I have been curious about for a few years....have you done much in Tazewell or Lebanon counties?
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Re: New Caver from Highland County, Va

Postby Squirrel Girl » Nov 11, 2011 9:55 pm

GroundquestMSA wrote:
Squirrel Girl wrote:Sump???? Did someone say "sump" here in Virginia? Tell me more about this sump. No sense diving if the water level will drop in drier weather. But if not, I call first dibs on diving it!


There are three Va. sumps I have been curious about for a few years....have you done much in Tazewell or Lebanon counties?


I have one sump in Giles, but it's been a YEAR since I've been there. We expect to go back next month. That's just not enough. But I've been traveling a LOT for my job. But now I'm around for a while.

Mostly I dive in FL or Cozumel--I like the warm temps. But since I live in VA, I'll bundle up in my drysuit and deal with the 54°.
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Re: New Caver from Highland County, Va

Postby Chief943 » Nov 12, 2011 7:02 am

The cave that's sumped is not divable. It's way too small. The culvert we inserted into the hill (Cedar Knob) is 20 feet long and ends in a small room. Where the bottom of the room goes below river level the water starts. It goes down underwater about 3-4 feet and that's it. It appears there was a break down at some point in the past and to find more cave it would have to be dug out. While standing in 3-4 feet of 49 degree water, that is. (I measured the temperature by putting a thermometer in a bucket of water as we were pumping the cave out). We pumped it out completely last summer as an experiment but it filled back up to the 3-4 foot level by the next day. Since the cave is only about 40-50 feet from the river I think it's connected to it underground.

What I eventually plan to do is build some sort of a platform at or just below the normal water level so I can dig at the back of the cave.

In the meantime I will be fully employed helping out on other local projects in far larger caves.

Mark
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Re: New Caver from Highland County, Va

Postby Squirrel Girl » Nov 12, 2011 8:11 am

Bummer for me!

Sounds like you've got a lot of work cut out for you. And a lot of fun!!
:grin:
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Re: New Caver from Highland County, Va

Postby Chief943 » Dec 2, 2012 7:06 am

So it's been a full year since my last visit to this board and what a year it's been. Being in Highland County I'm not only surrounded by caves, but by great cavers. And they have been very helpful to me. Being retired I can devote full time to this avocation and that's what I've been doing.
My main focus this past year has been in digging. I have two caves on my property and one has become a real project dig. 2600 5 gallon buckets and counting.
We have also opened up 6 virgin caves in Highland County that I know of this past year and a half and continue to do so. We're always looking for that next possibility. The trick is in finding something one can open quickly vs. it becoming another multi-year project.
I also have gotten out to Germany Valley a couple of times and had the privilege of digging in Ruddle's Cave when we made a significant breakthrough.

Mark
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Re: New Caver from Highland County, Va

Postby conphet@futureshift » Feb 18, 2013 5:05 pm

Hi,

I have read in The Recorder about your caving, and know Sidney Simmons well. I thought you might enjoy this article on caving as written by an English professor in England.

http://moreintelligentlife.com/content/ ... ing-depths

I'm Michael Veasey. live in Monterey and look forward to meeting you some day,

Best regards, Mike Veasey
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Re: New Caver from Highland County, Va

Postby Chief943 » Feb 23, 2013 9:14 am

Thanks for that Mike,
You are welcome to come by any time. I now have 3 caves on the property, Solid Rock, the Mill Cave (this is the one where the resurgence occurred) and a new cave I haven't named yet. Right now I just call it 70 Foot Dig because it's about 70 feet up Cedar Knob. That one's about 20 feet in and 17-20 feet deep and has air but I haven't found the source of the air yet.

Thanks for the article!

And now I'm off to Phil's to explore a new lead in Subway Cave.

Mark
Chief943
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Posts: 39
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Location: McDowell, Va
Name: Mark Hodge
NSS #: 63563
Primary Grotto Affiliation: Virginia Highlands Grotto
  


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