The Rat Race, part 2
Continuing where we left off...

Here again the tunnel narrowed and things looked pretty grim, but we took a chance, if only in the hopes that we might find an opening through which to get a GPS reading to tell us how far we had travelled, what we passed beneath, etc.

Eeek, a rat!

Yes, this is the first one I have *ever* seen in all my exploring (50+ tunnels as of this writing).  He looks pretty small in this picture, but he was actually about 6" long (head and body, not counting his tail).  However, he was very cute and was terribly frightened.

I suspect that, as explorers, we almost always frighten away the wildlife with the sound of our approach.  However, on this rare occasion, there were extenuating circumstances (continued below).

As we approached the area where we encountered our little friend, there was a loud roar of rushing water.  We had no idea what this was, but the water level was actually beginning to climb noticeably.  I was worried, but I have never encountered anything that could fill a huge tunnel like something out of the mineshaft scenes in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom!  Still, I know my heart was racing as we anticipated riding what sounded like an approaching tidal wave.

The sound continued to build in intensity, and it was enough to scare this little rodent toward us rather than away.  We held our ground for a few more moments, but we eventually pressed ahead.  I was curious to see what this sound was, and I wanted to get a close-up shot or two of the rat.

Apparently, he had a little exit in mind, and we were standing between it and him.  We did, in fact, get right up on him to take the shot above, and then he quickly scooted past us.

Finally, we reached the source of the noise, although it had died down considerably by this point (...or was that just my imagination?).  A large amount of water was pouring out of a pipe in the ceiling.  Feeder tunnels usually empty close to the floor, and the water runs down inclines along the way, thus they are relatively quiet.  This was quite a loud noise and it must have been composed of an enormous amount of water at its peak.  Thankfully, it was nothing serious.

The tunnel opened out again not too far from where we saw the rat.  This photo was taken in a 90 degree turn in the tunnel that made a little room.

Ah, downtown.  I love this city!

We had to crawl about 15' through a 2' diameter side tunnel to get to here, but it was worth it.

I was never able to pick up enough satellites to get a good reading, but Ben recognized the building.  We returned and located the exact grate a little later in the evening.

Things got pretty tight in the main tunnel just beyond where we were able to get to the grate.  The floor was pretty rough terrain along here (lots of concrete debris and broken glass), so  we decided to turn back.

The Second Tunnel
Back at the large tunnel where things first split up, we crossed over to the other side.  This is the entrance to that tunnel.

We don't know where this came from.  It's odd that they would have repaired a spot in a tunnel with a custom-fit piece of steel (note how the curvature matches that of the tunnel).

As you can see, the tunnel was fairly large.  It stayed this size and design for the entire length we explored, which was a considerable distance.

However, we were both pretty tired (I had pulled muscles the next morning), so we doubled back before finding the end.  This tunnel is definitely "bike-able," so that will probably be our approach next time.

Finally, here's a look up.  You can barely see the manhole above to gauge the depth, but we were very deep underground.

Update:  On a follow-up trip recently, I brought a "laser" tape measure and found that we were standing ~38' below the surface.  Don't ask me why, but I just think that is so cool!

Additional details about this trip can be found in a more lengthy write-up posted on my Journal page.  Jump right to the account of this expedition here.

Alexplored 9/28/04.

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