The Rat Race: The Finish Line
Yes, I've been in this tunnel about a million times, but it's one of my favorites.  More importantly, I hadn't checked out a side tunnel.  Granted, I had been past it before, but I wrote it off until Melancholy, Noah, and a couple other explorers took a trip in here and persevered through something of a back-breaker.  We'll cover that first, but then Explorer Phil and I pushed forward until the very end of this one for the first time as well.

Here's the side tunnel.  You can see why I'd skipped it previously.  It's too low even to accommodate the bikes, so why bother?  If I hadn't known there was something interesting ahead, I wouldn't have.

Me, hunched over taking a break as Phil caught up.

I didn't use a tripod, but this is a night-mode shot up to a grate above just to show how deep we were.

A view of the room it was in.  Note how low it is behind me...

Contrast with the larger tunnel upstream.  Yep, another rule-breaker.  I don't know how these things happen, but it gets worse even (or better, depending on your perspective).

A screwdriver.  I could open a hardware store with everything we've run across over the years.

Phil found a ring.  No word yet on if it's worth anything or who he's married to by claiming it.

Weird stalactites made from a mix of rust and calcium deposits.

A different view of the same.  The rust portion of it was almost spongy feeling.

Note that I don't have my trademark flashlight because I'm an idiot and forgot it while we were loading up the boots and the bikes and the camera and the GPS and the Alphasmart.  Fortunately, Phil had this rechargeable fluorescent one and let me borrow it.  It made for great shots as well... as you'll continue to see here.

Finally this is what it opened out into.

The wall is made out of cinder blocks and smaller bricks.  It isn't clear how much farther the original tunnel goes back in this direction (i.e., the one we were coming from; i.e., downstream).

A look into the distance doesn't really convey the scale, but it's a neat picture, so I'm posting it anyway.

Also, you can see that there's a lot of water and we run out of lan pretty quick, so that ruled out going much farther without swimming.

On the land was a lot of debris including this old mini tv.  And a tire and a rice cooker, among other items on someone's gift registry.

I used Phil's tripod to do this long-exposure shot that I light-painted as much as possible in the distance (and the flash for up close).

As you can see, the far end is walled off.  From the research Noah did on this, it looks like this was originally one of the major creeks around downtown Dallas that was covered over.  Eventually I-30 was built such that it cut through here and had to be diverted.  The wall was one side of that diversion.  What's on the other?  Who knows?

Here's a close-up, or at least the best attempt I was able to make at one.  The auto-focus didn't do so great in the dark at this distance, so you're looking at a manual "best-guess."  Not bad, but not really good enough to be sure what we're seeing.

From the grid-like appearance, I'm guessing the hole at the far end is filled with cinderblocks, but there's no way to tell for certain from here.

Here's a look into the water at the edge of "dry" land.  This barrel (or whatever it might be) is about three feet wide.  The water went to at least chest deep from where we were standing, and probably deeper out beyond that.  Guess we're going to need a bigger boat.  Okay, any boat.

With our options exhausted in the side tunnel, we returned to the main one.  Phil had been all the way through the left one of the fork, but only partly through this one to the right.

Apparently this is an old railroad bridge.  Not coincidentally, there are trail tracks above here now.

The interesting thing about this tunnel is thanks to the advanced age, there are many impressive formations like this.

This used to be a small inlet.  Now it's a giant chunk of calcification that nothing flows through.

The bricks themselves are so old that they have stress cracks through them.  (No, they aren't about to cave in.)

Continue to Part II