Raccoon Tunnel
This is another tunnel that empties into the Trinity River.  As with the Big Door Tunnel, I had previously checked out part of this one with Dani.  However, unlike the Big Door itself, these smaller hatches were paradoxically harder to open due to the fact that they had to swing at a greater angle outward.  I needed a guy with me, so Melancholy and I hit this one together.

You'd think smaller doors would be easier to left, but not so.  Still, we managed to get into these.

We see tracks like these all the time in tunnels of all shapes and sizes, but it's very rare we ever actually encounter mammalian wildlife, so I've never been able to determine empirically whether these were left by a raccoon, opossum, nutria, or the yeti.  

Pop quiz: Which one do you think might be responsible based on the name of this tunnel?

Rungs leading up the inside of the levee; most tunnels don't have these.  This chamber houses the doors (on right) and mechanisms for closing the system when the river is so high that it would result in a backflow into the city.

Up ahead things grew more cramped.  The walls narrowed and the ceiling lowered.

There were also spots where the water was a lot deeper.  The silt we churned up suggests this tunnel doesn't get a tremendous flow to clear it very often.  Personal note: I hate silt.

Lots of little footprints in the silty mud.

Eventually it got too small for even us (the most obsessive of explorers you probably know when it comes to drains), so we turned back.

However, on the way back we spotted the tracks of a raccoon.  Unless you flunked the pop quiz above, you can already guess from the name of the tunnel that we spotted him later on.

He had worked his way upstream ahead of us for a time, then retreated down a side tunnel as we made our way past him.  Once we were upstream, he doubled back, leaving these tracks on this side.  On our way out of the tunnel, we spotted the tracks leading into a side tunnel that dead-ended.  Unfortunately, he was so far back that we couldn't get a good picture of him, though I guess his eyes might have shown up if I'd taken the time to try to get a good picture.  We were freezing and tired, so we didn't.

Incidentally, here's why so much water was backed up.  The flow bottle-necks when the levels are low, hence the reason so much silt is allowed to settle out and cloud things up.  Did I mention I hate silt?

Alexplored 2/19/06.
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