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Happy New Years 2016 from BoB!

Jason Hart, Ashley Hart, Richie Ellison, Vanessa Ellison, Cory Hall, Alex Hall, Matt
A lot of folks think of watching TV to ring in the New Year with the rest of the East
Coast (estimated 47% of the US population). We decided the only place we wanted
to be was around the bon fire in Bath County! We started the New Year off with the
torching of our 2015 Christmas tree at the fire pit in the field (Watch out for those
things in your house, they burn surprisingly quick and hot!) then toasting to
champagne and getting to bed at an acceptable Bath County time. Upon waking on
January 1st, we scarfed down our breakfast burritos and hash browns and headed to
the John Guilday Cave Preserve in Wild and Wonderful West Virginia!
Passing thru the metropolis of Monterey VA, Vanessa had a great idea of stopping
into the Dollar General to see if they had any dust masks because of a warning on
the map. Vanessa made an observation: A Dollar General in a small town is a big
deal, while Dollar General in a big town is a small deal. It made all kinds of sense
while waiting in line at the DG!
Upon arrival at the Cave Preserve in Pendleton County we see a huge hole on the
side of the mountain with a trail leading up to the cliff from the parking area. So
we head straight up the mountain whilst second guessing that that this is the actual
trail to the cave preserve. Once up to the Cliff, we hike South to our first cave;
Upon reviewing Hamilton Caves map, we discover that this cave looks more like a
map of the Fan in Richmond than a traditional cave. This maze cave has
symmetrical 90 degree four way junctions thru the vast majority of the cave.
Obviously we flagged every turn, but as we found out, everyone else has flagged
them as well. We were sure to tie our markers in a unique pattern and to mark
them with a sharpie so we would not be confused on the way out. The notable
thing about Hamilton cave were the fossilized shells in the celling. There is
something amazing about looking at the shell from an animal that lived millions of
millions of years ago. Also notable were the dark chert nodules that jut out from the
khaki colored walls of Hamilton. Hamilton also has very sculptable mud, and with
the combination of malleable mud and public access to a cave, we saw some very
interesting mud sculptures. Most I wouldnt be able to mention in this report ;).
Once we orienteered our way out of Hamilton, we hike north along the base of the
cliff to Trout Cave. Trout is currently closed, but we wanted to get a look at the gate.
The entrance to Trout is huge and the bat gate is massive! Kuddos for the
volunteers that hauled that amount of iron up that hike and that cliff. We found that
just outside the entrance to Trout was the perfect rock to perch on to view the most
excellent vista. Route 220 might bisect your view of the South Branch of the
Potomac and its impressive valley, but nonetheless its an awesome place to sit and
appreciate your surroundings in the low January 1 st sun.
Hiking further north and a little down the mountain we find the Kiosk erected by the
NSS. Welp, I think this is the trail we should have hiked up in the first place! Looks

like we just shot up the mountain upon arrival, when we could have had a nice and
established switch backed trial. Oh Well.
Just behind the kiosk was New Trout cave. We noticed something weird about the
New Trout sign, it was at an angle what could that be about? New Trout cave was
pretty linear at first, then it turned into a maze about 30 min in cave (not anything
as bad as Hamilton). New Trouts walls were near black, so the ample light of the
khaki colored, small passage Hamilton was all gone. After experiencing the two
caves in the same trip, its amazing that both Hamilton and New Trout are on the
same mountain, or even in the same state!
As we caved on, we saw these really
weird furry things on the celling, OMG they are BATS! We saw about 6 big (really
big!) browns and about 5 pipistrelles. It has been a while since weve seen a big
brown bat, so it was quite a treat. Going further into the cave we hit the Dusty
Crawl. At this point we realized why the sign was at an angle. The whole cave
seems to be at about a 135 degree angle and dusty was correct. The dust masks
came on and we braved our way thru the talcum like soil in the passage. Going for
about 20 min in the odd passage the dust mask really came in handy (just as the
mappers said they would so many years ago.) After quite sometime in the Dusty
crawl we had reached our turnaround time. As we had people back at BoB who
were preparing a 4lb pork loin we had to keep a very strict schedule to get back to
After we got back to the truck, we dusted off as best as we could (both internal and
external dust) and headed south on 220, cabin bound, laughing all the way! Since
the Bath House was closed, we cleaned up as best as we could before dinner, then
had a New Years feast of Pork Loin, Baked Apples, and Mash Potatoes. Something
about a big cave trip really makes food taste good. Post dinner festivities started
as soon as the first person was done with their meal, and we played CADS (Cards in
a New England Accent) and laughed into the night all the way to January 2 nd.
A great time was had by all, and we hope to ring in 2017 exactly the same way!
Jason Hart
NSS 47439