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July 5th, 2009

Sunday July 5, 2009 Page County Cave Survey Trip Report

Nathan Farrar

Waking up at 7am after no more than two hours of sleep, I left my summer’s place of residence
up around Philomont (happy I didn’t say Leesburg, Chris?) for the 2 hour drive to the park and ride in
Luray. My gas light came on but the gas prices kept dropping as I drove along through Front Royal, so I
tried to hold out as long as I could. I passed a station with regular for $2.39, so I decided I’d stop at the
next place… which conveniently had gas for $2.59. On top of that, the little mechanism that allows for
the pump to work by itself until the tank is full... didn’t work. So after spewing gas all over the pavement
and making sure no one saw me, I moved the car and headed inside to get lunch. The deli wasn’t open
so I got a couple snacks for the trip – crackers, trail mix, donuts, honey bun, fruit snacks, and poptarts. It
turned out that was enough “lunch” for the day’s trip and the next.

I pulled into the park and ride right along with Jeff. Bill and Scott had just arrived in Bill’s new car
(did it have a bat sticker yet??). Chris Woodley also got there around the same time. We stood around
doing the usual cave gossiping that occurs before each trip and we waited for Janet. I had called Mr.
Charlie Hoke that manages Luray’s water treatment place, on which the entrance to Zirkle’s Cave was
located, and we had the go ahead for a day trip. Janet got to the park and ride a little late because she
had been having car problems, but we weren’t in any rush. We discussed that we had enough people
for two teams of three, but it worked out that Janet had an area she wanted to ridge walk, and I wanted
to start my first day of sketching school. We decided that Janet and Jeff would ridge walk for the day
and Bill, Scott, Chris, and I would survey Zirkles. We all drove up to the water treatment plant together, I
called Mr. Hoke to tell him we were going in, and Janet and Jeff started looking for “Unknown Cave” on
the property. How many caves have the name “Unknown”??

Chris showed me how to set up the book, and he did the same. He was to keep profile and
cross sections, and I was to do plan. Scott went on in and began to pick A2; he was to pick stations and
do backshots. As Chris was writing down the names of the survey team, he asked me if I had a relative
named “Jay Farrar” because Jay happened to be a member of one of Scott’s favorite bands. I don’t
have a relative Jay, but we decided we might as well amuse Scott and say I do. Bill was to be the other
reading instruments – foreshots. Before even getting to A3, I had lost Scott’s pencil at least once, and his
protractor had come unattached from the string it was on. Nevertheless, the masoned stairs and wall
down into the cave were quite easy to sketch. Thankfully, the cave didn’t reek of scat like Janet and Jeff
had remembered it, although it did have its fair share of little deposits that had to be avoided.

Just inside the cave, Scott casually asked Chris if he had been to any concerts lately, and nicely
set the stage for our little fib. I mentioned that I was going to a concert here soon – my uncle was in
some band that was playing up in DC. Chris asked the name of the band and I said I couldn’t remember,
but I think “son” was in there. Scott didn’t think much of this, so Chris asked me what my uncle’s name
was. I said, “Oh, his name’s Jay but I haven’t talked with him in a long time, so this would be a good time
to catch up.” Then Scott put it all together… “YOU’RE RELATED TO JAY FARRAR!?! HE’S IN ONE OF THE
BEST “ALT CUNT” BANDS THERE IS! SON VOLT!” I responded that I only listened to a little cunt music,

but not any alt cunt. We went on to amuse ourselves a little more and then Chris decided it was time “to
let him know.” Still throughout the rest of the trip, Scott would mumble “oh, his name’s Jay” repeatedly,
and to all of our laughter.

We hadn’t gone terribly far before Janet and Jeff came back and said they had found the
Unknown cave they were looking for, but that it didn’t go very far. The batteries in Janet’s gps had died,
so she got the gps that Bill had brought along and got the coordinates for the Unknown entrance. By the
time they had gotten back, they said it was raining outside, so they hung out in the cave with us. The
survey team was going very slowly, and it was absolutely, without a doubt, not my fault. I mean, we all
agreed, I had reached my peak in sketching skill. We had already closed one loop pretty well and were
working on our second when we found a nice side lead… with a big stinking pile of dead something right
in the middle. I doubt we’ll ever know what’s down that crawlway – none of us wanted to find out. I’ll
make sure to draw it up on the map as a very promising lead - oh the blast of wind coming out of that

We closed the second loop and followed a manmade dug trench around out of the biggest room
so far… into a much bigger room! Maybe 60 feet in diameter? It was also very decorated – soda straws
covered most of the ceiling, some beautiful flow stone, rimstone, stals (I wouldn’t know this word if I
hadn’t taken those classes it WKU), and columns. The formations also appeared untouched, but there
was a carbide signature found on the ceiling in one part of the room. Janet headed out, but the rest of
us stayed to try to survey the room. We took some splay shots and ended up also making a loop around
the far part of the room, for my sketching aid. Jeff even picked up an instrument and learned all about
the black line J. After finishing that third loop, and finally wet and muddy, we called it a day, leaving
behind part of the room off a little ledge, and a couple good size passages leading out of this room.
Looks like we’ll be doing Zirkles again next month! And I think that the big decorated room was good
enough incentive that everyone will be coming back if they can.

We got out, and a certain baby doll missing it’s lower half and looking demonic as all hell scared
the crap out of each one of us as we exited, even though we knew something was coming up from
the person in front of us. Thanks Janet!! I’m sure if it’s still there next trip, we’ll make use of it again.
I called Mr. Hoke and told him we were out, and that the cave was much prettier and longer than we
had expected and that we’ll be coming back again next month. After changing out of our cave gear, we
headed back to the park and ride and then drove into downtown Luray to the same diner we ate at last

Chris and I pulled out of the restaurant together and turned in different directions, and then
over an hour later, in Chantilly, we were next to each other at a stoplight. What are the chances of that?
It surely must have something to do with God favoring our survey! All in all, it was a good survey, and
we’ll be right back at it on August 1st!