(Nnearly) Drowned Tunnel Rats

Here's a reply to a friend of mine you might find interesting and/or useful.

>how much of a dumb dumb would i have to be to think that maybe i could go down into the rat race tunnel this weekend? your expert opinion Please?

It's funny you should mention that because I'm a big dumb dumb for trying that tunnel myself.  In all the years I've been exploring tunnels, there's never been this much rain before, so I've normally been able to sit out weather like this and resist the urge to hit any tunnels for a week or two.  Well, I happened to be in Dallas the other day with my friend Kelli, and we planned to check out a small side tunnel that [Noah, Melancholy, etc.] had found in there that (believe it or not) I'd never bothered to explore on any of my previous trips right past it.

It had been rainy earlier (as in that morning and for the previous month), but it wasn't raining at the time.  But by the time we made it over near the tunnel, parked, put our boots on, etc., it started drizzling lightly.  We rushed over to the tunnel and got on into it to stay out of the rain.

We get as far back as to the main split (i.e., where the tunnel switches from square to a bifurcation to two round ones), which isn't very far back at all, and then we hear rushing water.  The level didn't seem to rise any, so I stood there and waited for a bit.  Since the sound started up all at once, I figured it was the small pipe in the ceiling way upstream.  I don't know if you've been in there at just the right time, but it periodically dumps a bunch of water out, and since it drops straight from the ceiling onto the floor, it's really loud.  The first time I was in the tunnel years ago, it scared the hell out of us and a small rat headed toward us to get away from the sound.  (You may have seen the pictures of him in my gallery for this tunnel.)  In other words, whatever it was that was making the noise was scarier than a couple of humans holding flashlights.  As I already revealed, it was more noise than actual water in this case.

I figured it was the same thing this time, and that the sound was just carried along the length of the tunnel for it to seem so loud.  After standing there for about a minute with nothing happening, I was like, "Screw it, let's go in this little side tunnel here."  Guess what happens?  Water starts pouring in from out of the ceiling in the main tunnel so it's splashing down after about a 15 foot fall.  We're just a few feet into the little side tunnel when this noise starts up all at once, so I'm like, "What the fuck is *that*?"  It was deafening.  We doubled back and see the water in there.  Within seconds, water is even coming out of the side tunnel.

By this point, the water level had visibly risen at least a couple inches.  That doesn't sound like much, but we're talking about only a total of maybe three or four minutes from the time we heard the first sound, and the water was already about four inches deep right there.  In other words, if we didn't get out of there immediately, it was going to be over our boots, and Kelli's are girly boots, so she has even less headroom above the surface.

I was pissed that we had to split before we even had a chance to see anything, but it's a good thing we got out when we did.  At the very end where the water is naturally deeper anyway, it was almost over our boots.  Here's the surprise though: It wasn't even raining all that hard.  When we came out, it was just a light mist.  We weren't in there long enough for any serious kind of downpour.

The moral of the story is obvious: You don't want to be down there if there's even the possibility of rain.  If this had been a genuine thunderstorm, we would have been lucky to have been blasted out of there on a wavefront.  The tunnels clear of water rather quickly, so most of them are safe even a few hours afterward unless there's a backflow (i.e., the outfall can't clear the water in the tunnel because the level outside is significantly higher than the mouth of it).  I've always been careful in the past, but this is one hazard I will definitely be more cautious of in the future.

Here are some pics to illustrate what I described.

This is all the water there was in the tunnel on our way in..

This is where the water was pouring in from.

You can also see the small side tunnel (round hole in the wall) behind Kelli.

Here's a look up.  The water went from zero to that much flow immediately with no ramping up to that volume.

Also, on the way out there were a number of side tunnels that were turning out even more water like this one near the exit.

Note the sky.  It's overcast, sure, but this is hardly monsoon weather.  There wasn't even any rain falling by the time we exited.

Copyright 2007 Alexplorer.
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