The Mother Lode Grotto (MLG) is a chapter of the National Speleological Society (NSS), a national organization devoted to the exploration,study, and preservation of caves and cave related phenomena.

If you share an interest in caves,read on and see what the MLG is all about!…

What is so special about a “grotto?”

We all like to be around people who enjoy the same things we do. This is one purpose of a grotto. We get a chance to be around people who know and love caves. But there is more than friendship and good times!

  • A grotto is a local chapter of the NSS.
  • A grotto brings us a nationwide network of cavers and a world of caving news through the NSS.
  • A grotto helps us enjoy caving more and do it better and more safely through training sessions and information on caving equipment.
  • A grotto has knowledge of caves and their locations, and often has access to caves unavailable to an individual.
  • A grotto gives us an opportunity to do things …. Long trips, difficult caves, special projects as a group …. Which could not be done alone!
  • A grotto enables us to preserve and protect caves and educate others effectively.

About the Mother Lode Grotto:

Founded in February of 1962,the MLG is composed primarily of cavers from around Sacramento and the nearby foothill areas of Northern California. We also have members who currently reside in Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, New Mexico, and Idaho. Our grotto is named after the Gold Rush era of the northern and central Sierra foothills.

We hold informal monthly meetings,where we go over grotto business, report on recent trips, plans and sign-up for upcoming trips. Most meetings are started off with some kind of a program …. Either a slide or video presentation, or a scientific or safety workshop.

In addition we publish a quarterly newsletter, the Valley Caver, full of grotto news, trip reports and schedules, and other articles about caves and caving. Members are invited to contribute articles and artwork to the newsletter.

Training is a very important part of our grotto activities. Sessions are held regularly to train cavers,both old and new, in safe caving and climbing techniques. It is a grotto policy that everyone learn proper techniques above ground before trying them out in a cave!

And then there is caving !

The MLG tries to offer cave trips for all members’ interests: Novice day trips to the Mother Lode area; vertical trips into pit caves, requiring rope skills; cold challenging trips requiring wet suits … Not without bruises and hard work! Then there are trips for exploring and mapping newly discovered caves. These trips require more training in surveying and mapping.

MLG trips are regularly scheduled into the Mother lode foothills and other Sierra Nevada caving areas in California. Longer trips can be made on long weekends to the far reaches of California and to caving areas in other states. Some such trips go to the Sequoia Park and Southern California desert caving areas, and to the Marble Mountains and Lava Beds of Northern California. There is usually an Eastern Nevada caving trip, with Diablo Grotto, every spring or summer. MLG members have long been involved in  research and exploration projects  for the Cave Research Foundation (CRF) in the Lava Beds and the Klamath Mountains Conservation Task Force (KMCTF) in the Marble Mountains. MLG members also participate in conservation efforts and digging projects,at the commercial caves in our area.

The MLG is active in our own research projects also. A few years ago, we conducted extensive research into the occurrence and effects of “bad air” (carbon dioxide) in vertical caves of the Mother Lode. We are now participating in a project involving a: Survey of the Invertebrate Fauna and Database of the Caves of the Mother Lode Area, for the Dept. of Entomology,California Academy of Sciences. The grotto will help fund this project and its members will help will help with the collection of the fauna. MLG has set aside special research funds which are available to help fund legitimate research projects.

And there’s even more!

If you have a cave-related interest,chances are that someone else in the MLG shares it! There are members who are serious about conservation, cave photography, geology, and cave biology,just to name a few.

The MLG is a chapter of the Western Region (WR) of the NSS (Grottos from California and Oregon.),and our members are active in both regional and national organizations. Every year, in the fall, the WR holds an annual meeting weekend somewhere in California, where other events and caving trips are also planned. This is another chance to meet other cavers from California and Oregon. Each grotto in the region takes a turn hosting this convention on a rotating basis.
The NSS also holds a national convention somewhere in the United States. This week long event has programs on most every caving aspect one could think of: Slide shows from all over the world,many lectures and workshops, parties, a photo salon, and there are cave equipment venders, where you can try and buy any cave gear imaginable! And go on cave trips in other parts of the United States! Some of our members regularly attend this convention.