The 46th, Annual WSS Hodag Hunt Festival September 9-12, 2010

The Wisconsin Speleological Society presents

The 46th Annual Hodag Hunt

September 9-12, 2010

The event will take place at Crystal Cave- Spring Valley, Wisconsin.


Welcome: Welcome to the 46th annual Wisconsin Speleological Society (WSS) Hodag Hunt. The Hodag Hunt is a yearly weekend caving jubilee for cavers from Wisconsin and the surrounding states. You do not have to be a WSS member or be affiliated with any other caving grotto to attend. Everyone is welcome! However, we do have two very important requirements for everyone who is going into the noncommercial caves during the Hodag Hunt. The first requirement is that everyone needs to have the proper caving equipment: a protective hard helmet of some sort and no less than hiking boots are a must for all caving trips; hands-free caving lights and protective clothing are highly recommended; knee pads and gloves will be needed for most trips (bring them if you have them, you will not regret having them). The other essential requirement for the caving trips is that all your caving equipment and clothing must be clean to protect against the spread of the devastating White-Nose Syndrome (WNS). Caving equipment and clothing from states that are infected with WNS should not be used in any Wisconsin caves.

Hodag Fun: The WSS uses the Hodag Hunt weekend as a caving social gathering and uses the funds raised at the Hodag auction to support its various caving activities throughout the year. Please do bring items for the auction and some extra money for the great buys and interesting finds you will see at the auction. The weekend will be full of great caving trips, and the best part, you do not have to go any farther than a short walking distance from where you will be camped for the Hodag to see lots of caves. A full spread banquet buffet meal on Saturday night will be less than a mile from the camping area. Also, don't forget our fun pancake breakfast offerings on both Saturday and Sunday mornings right at the camping area. You just never know what multiple unique flavors of pancakes will be offered this year by our renowned resident chef, Buzz Davis. Our guest speakers at the banquet this year will be giving a historical, unique, and whimsical journey into the wonders of the largest cave in the State of Wisconsin. There will be social gathering every night to unwind from the day's activities. Please bring any musical instruments to join in on the nightly fun activities. Featured for the first time at the Hodag this year is "The Squeezinator Twenty Ten". The "Squeezinator Twenty Ten" is a fully portable 10-foot long Wisconsin cave simulator that will test your caving skills and endurance. It has numerous wooden formation types and rock sizes that can be added and switched around to give over 1000 combinations of obstacles for everyone to try. From a height of 15.5 inches the "Squeezinator" can be lowered to 1.5 inches. The width is 30 inches, but by adding wooden formations and rocks the sides can be narrowed down as well. "The Squeezinator Twenty Ten" is also capable of being a cave of 4 feet long, 8 feet long, or even 10 feet long with a 60 degree turn in it. Every caving trip thru is guaranteed to give you the best squeeze of your life and a fun memory you will not soon forget.

Location: I am happy to announce, the Hodag Hunt for this year is at Crystal Cave ( near Spring Valley, Wisconsin. From Minneapolis / St. Paul, MN take Interstate 94 (I94) east into Wisconsin. Follow I94 19 miles past Hudson WI to Exit 19 (Ellsworth Exit). Turn south (right) onto Highway 63. Go seven miles south. Signs will direct you to turn left (east) on Hwy 29 towards Spring Valley and the cave. From Eau Claire, WI take Interstate 94 (I94) west to Exit 28 (Spring Valley). Turn south (left) onto Highway 128. Go five miles south to Highway 29. Turn right on Highway 29, following the signs to Spring Valley. Continue west on Highway 29 past Spring Valley for one more mile. Crystal Cave is on the left side of the highway.

Why Crystal Cave: Crystal Cave is the largest explored cave system in Wisconsin, with over a mile of mapped cave passages. It would take well over a day just to see and admire all the passages and rooms in it. On the Crystal Cave property itself, there are also multiple additional caves that can be explored in easy walking distance from each other. Seeing all of these other individual caves thoroughly will take yet another day of exploring. One particularly interesting cave on the property is South Portal Cave. At South Portal, there has been an active excavation project in progress for years. The closeness of a major breakthrough during the Hodag in this cave is now at hand. An extremely strong cave wind is blowing through at the current dig face area. It is so strong now you start to quickly freeze down immediately after being exposed to it. The cave wind indicates a huge void is just lurking only feet ahead of the lead dig face. A special breakthrough excavation dig is being offered all day on Friday, September 10, in South Portal Cave. You could become a historical participant of a major cave discovery in Wisconsin just by being at the Crystal Cave for Hodag. Part of Crystal Cave is also a well known, highly decorated commercial cave. The commercial tour offers an hour-long underground trip down lighted stairways and even pathways by experienced and knowledgeable tour guides. The cave tour offers spectacular formations of stalactites, stalagmites, and flowstone that cover the ceiling and ledges of the cave. You will see something new and breathtaking at just about every corner of the tour. Discounts will be offered for the commercial tour for the Hodag participants. The greatest attractions for having the Hodag at Crystal Cave this year are the onsite camping, caving, and meals. Everything is conveniently centrally located for all caving activities for the entire weekend.

Cost: See separate registration form for more specific cost breakdowns. Pre-Registration is $5 per person. On-site registration is $6 per person. There is no registration charge for children under 15. Camping on site is $5 per night per person. There is no fee for Thursday night camping for early arrivals. Breakfast is $5 and the buffet dinner is $14 for food expenses. There is a reduced rate of $6 for children under 12 for the buffet dinner.

Camping: Field sites for tents that have no hookups are available right on the Crystal Cave property. Tent campers and trailers also will have room to park and camp with no hookups in the grassy area on the north side of the cave customer gravel parking lot. Camping spaces may become limited depending on the Hodag turnout, so camping space availability will be on a first come first serve basis only. No space can be reserved, so it is best to arrive earlier if you can. We will do everything in our power that is reasonable to fit everyone in. The overflow area to camp if Crystal is full will be the Highland Ridge Campground in the Eau Galle Recreation Area ( It will also be the camper's choice to go if you want electrical and full hookups. They do take reservations so it is wise to get a site locked in as soon as you can. The campground is about 7 miles from Crystal Cave. For reservations or information about the alternate camping site, call 715-778-5562.

Campfires: You can bring your own firewood, but plenty can be collected on site. Two separate camping locations at Crystal Cave have fire pits. Fires are restricted to the fire pits only.

Showers: There have been shower arrangements made less than a mile from the Crystal Cave entrance. The Spring Valley Golf Course will offer showers for a $5 per person and provide clean towels for anyone interested in getting cleaned up after a long day of caving activities.

For directions to Crystal Caves please click link below.

View Crystal Caves Large Map


Caving Trips: Saturday caving trips will be offered from 10AM to 4PM and Sunday from 10 AM to 2 PM. Sign-up sheets will be available at the Registration after Saturday breakfast. Cave briefing at 9:30 is required of everyone planning on taking a caving trip. Everyone needs to be aware of White Nose Syndrome decontamination protocol to go on any caving trips. Handouts on decontamination protocol will be provided at Registration. Clean clothes and decontaminated caving gear are a must for all cave trips. Decontamination sprays and baths will be provided by the WSS for everyone's use, if it is needed. Multiple caving trips will be offered. Eight on-site caves are available for caving in addition to Crystal Cave itself. The other on-site caves are Overlook Cave, Cancon Cave, Fox Den Cave, Play Caves, Tree Fork Cave, Fuzzy Critter Cave, Gargolies Cave, and South Portal Cave. Other off-property cave trips may also become available closer to the actual Hodag event dates.

Non-caving Activities: Crystal Cave is only a 60 minute drive from the Minneapolis/ Saint Paul area. There is a multitude of things to see and do there. You have multiple Museums, Historic Fort Snelling, Minnesota Zoo, Mall of America, and many more interesting sites. See ( Closer to Crystal Cave you have Eau Galle Recreation area, Spring Valley Gulf Course, Cady Cheese Factory and Gift Shoppe, Maple Leaf Orchard, Vino in the Valley and many more attractions found at (

The Twinky: Registration and the main hub for informational activities at Crystal Cave for the Hodag will be at the covered yellow picnic shelter affectionately referred to as the "Twinky." It is located close to the outdoor bathrooms next to the Crystal Cave gift shop. Check-in and registration will take place here. Please check in when you first arrive and before you set up at any camping site. It will also be the site for the Hodag breakfast and all "Squeezinator Twenty Ten" activities on Friday and Saturday nights. It will serve as our main social gathering place at night for fun and relaxation. Campsites will be reserved for quiet sleeping areas during the Hodag.


Thursday Night (September 9): Early check-in for those cavers participating in the all-day Friday excavation dig in South Portal Cave. Camping is free for Thursday night.

Friday South Portal Excavation: Digging will begin at around 8:00 in the morning. Cavers will be on their own for lunch on Friday. Just about everyone will just being a light lunch to eat at the cave. Excavation time will conclude at dinner time.

Friday Registration: Registration starts late afternoon at around 4:00 and will be run through Saturday morning for late arrivals.

Friday Dinner: Cavers are on their own for Friday night dinner. Usually we all end up going to one dinner location or another in groups. Baldwin ,WI just a little northwest of Spring Valley, has nine restaurants offering a variety of good foods and is located just off of the I-94 freeway. The bill of fare includes fast food, home cooking, pizza, chicken, ice cream treats, baked goods, and fine dining.

Saturday Breakfast: Breakfast will be served in the "Twinky." Breakfast is from 8:00 - 9:00 AM. The cost is $5 per person for all the pancakes you can eat.

Saturday Caving: Caving activities start at 9:30 AM with a cave trip briefing. Everyone MUST attend the briefing. Cave trips will leave at 10:00. Everyone should be back at the campsite to get cleaned up by 4:00 to get ready for the banquet dinner.

Saturday Lunch: Cavers are on their own for lunch on Saturday. If on an extensive caving trip, lightly packed high energy foods are suggested.

Saturday Banquet Dinner: The Saturday Banquet Buffet Dinner will be served at the Spring Valley Golf Course that is just across Hwy 29 from the Crystal Cave entrance. It is less than a mile down the road from Crystal Cave. Arrival time can start at 5:00. A cash bar is available for drinks. Meal time is from 6:00 - 7:00. It will be a chicken breast and roast beef buffet style meal with baked potatoes, two choices of vegetables, a salad selection, and dessert.

Banquet Speakers: Blaze and Jeannie Cunningham, our Hodag hosts and owners of Crystal Cave, will give a historical overview of Crystal Cave starting at 7:00.

WSS Auction: The WSS Auction fund raiser will start around 8:00 after the guest speaker presentation. Door prizes will also be given out during the auction.

Sunday Breakfast: Breakfast may be offered by the WSS depending on breakfast supplies and demand, otherwise cavers are on their own for Sunday breakfast. Time for the breakfast is from 8:00 - 9:00 again.

WSS Board/General Meeting: A combined WSS General and Board Meeting will be held at 9 a.m. on Sunday.

Sunday Caving: There will be limited trips offered on Sunday. Caving activities start at 10:00 and should wrap up by 2:00 so people have plenty of time to tear down their camp sites and have daylight travel time for home.