Three-Way Tunnel, 3rd expedition
After returning with blistered feet from our last expedition through this system, bikes were definitely called for.  As it turned out, this was a great idea and one that worked much better than I had hoped, with only a few exceptions.  I had feared that we would get completely soaked from the tires throwing up water (I even brought an extra change of clothes in anticipation of this eventuality), but that was never a problem.  The problem was that we fell down entirely too many times (four total) due to slick spots where water passed over the otherwise dry sides of the tunnels. 

On this visit we rode our bikes up the canal from a couple blocks away.

This turned out to be interesting in and of itself, including the fact that just beyond this point we ran across a young water moccasin (aka cotton mouth). 

Yes, I know how to identify a snake.  Small, but still poisonous.  This was not cool!  Obviously I was more concerned with getting the hell away from him than taking the picture.

We also saw this desiccated dog carcass in the canal.  It smelled as good as it looks here.  (The head is to the left if you can't make it out.  It's laying on a black blanket.)

A little later I almost ran into a strange-acting (living) dog further upstream.  He was laying beneath an overpass, on the other side of a thick column that sat in the canal.

He just stayed laying down in that spot barking at us.  Ben tried to get a picture of him, but by this point in the evening it was too dark to see him without gettting closer than would have been advisable.

Speaking of wildlife, we ran across our little turtle friend again this time... literally. 

A short way into the tunnel I  accidentally hit him with the bike and knocked him into the water.  He was fine though, just a bit shaken up.  He said his lawyer would be in touch.

The headlamps Dani bought us last xmas finally came in handy.  They hadn't gotten much use up till now, but it made the biking a lot safer.

Unfortunately, we only had one head lamp on this trip, and it went through the batteries pretty quickly (possibly because they had been in the lamp so long; tests are pending...).  It had already burned out by the time we were ready to head back.

A lot of the tunnel was ideal for biking.  As you can see in this stretch, the water was channeled toward the center, and the sides had very little incline.

However, this wasn't always the case.  In some spots the sides were angled so sharply that we had to ride in the water.  Thankfully, it was only two or three inches deep in most places.

This little tunnel led to a fairly large area beneath some grates.  Through these I could see that I was right in the middle of a DART (bus) station.  I was looking right up the side of a bus.

Sorry, no GPS readings here as the metal mesh just beneath the grate obscured the signals.  We didn't take the time to drive back over there afterward either.

An interesting point here: The bikes conveniently served as step ladders to reach this tunnel.  Another reason to bring your wheels!

This was another wide area (the other one being the "room" we were standing in in the photo above).

The two parallel tunnels downstream converged here and became a single large tunnel.

Incidentally, this was one of the worst smelling rooms I have ever been in!  The whole tunnel alternated through a series of strange smelling sections, most of which we could not identify.  This one smelled like detergent.

The tunnel returned to the "original" domed configuration at this point.  I didn't count them, but there must have been nearly a dozen alternations between this style and variations of the more rectangular version as well as sections where the floor was channeled into a "V" as mentioned above.

In this picture you can see that the sides are slightly angled, as was the case in the first part of the tunnel where we had our accidents.

Ben turned out to have a slow leak, but thankfully had brought a spare inner tube, pump, and bike tool.  Yeah, I know, he's a freaking boy scout!

Another problem: Ben's brakes were acting up, so he disconnected them.  This resulted in another couple spills since he couldn't slow down except with his feet... which didn't work in the slippery spots.  Don't try this at home, kids!

At this point we had biked for at least three miles, possibly more, and hadn't run across any other major side tunnels (we skipped the two we discovered last time, preferring to find the end of this one). 

It was surprising to find graffiti in here this far up, although who knows how much this system has changed since 1993 when this area was painted.  We had hoped to find an easy exit somewhere along here, but no such luck.

The tunnel started to get pretty low at this point, but there wasn't much water this far upstream.  As a result, we were able to stick closer to the center where the ceiling was high enough to keep us from scraping our heads.

Before too long the "domed" tunnel turned into a 6-foot high culvert.  We continued on through that until we eventually wound down to the point where it shrunk to this size.

Fortunately, there was a side tunnel to the right of this photo, and I checked it out...

This was at one point of that side tunnel.  Apparently this is in a park somewhere.  I kept cursing the fact that we didn't have a wrench to get those gates open.  It would have shortened the return trip considerably to have found a spot where we could surface with the bikes.

This GPS indicated that this was 3.66 miles from where we started.

Update: After Ben factored in the DART station, it turned out the total trip was upwards of 7 miles!  (The DART station was way out of the way of this being a straight shot from start to finish.)

The whole trip took at least five hours, although I didn't notice what time we started to be more exact than that.  As a result, as mentioned above, the head lamp was dead and Ben's flashlight was on its last leg by the time we were finished.  I had brought extra AA batteries, but both lights took AAA (note to self: bring spare AAA batteries next time!).

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 9/21/04.

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