Friday, July 21, 2006

U of M East Bank Storm Drains


Location: East Bank of Mississippi River, near the Washington Ave. Bridge
Crew: Cheese, Deadhead Bob, Rataphobe, & Spaz
Mission Time: 1 hrs
Difficulty: Easy.

We wanted to meet at 1:00, but it turned out we didn't leave my place until past 3:00. Rataphobe, the newest member of the crew, slept through his alarm (which turned out to be "in his head"), and then got lost on his way over! Eventually though, the four of us got on our bikes, and road over to campus, where we locked up our bikes near the river bank. On the way to the storm drain outfall, we passed the blocked steam tunnel entrance. We were going to give it another look, but someone was catching zzz's in it this time.
Minutes later, we were crawling through the spider tunnel. "Why?" Quite simply, to see what was in the other side.
We made our way down the concrete tunnel keeping our feet dry by straddling the trickle of water flowing down the center. That was, at least until we reached the half way point, there water flowed down a mini water fall from a pipe above (there was also a drop shaft on the left with about a foot deep pool beneath it), and a damn of debris trapped enough red, rust colored silt on the on the other side, to make a several inch deep mess. Some us changed in to sandals at this point, some kept their boots on, while the rest went bare-foot.

Looking down the tunnel. The floor is covered in some very wet sand, but easy to walk on.

Soon the floor became covered in pebbles, and we could see a wall blocking our tunnel. To the left was another dropshaft.

The End. The drop shaft of The Cess Pool of Death is just out of sight, to the left.

The glowing Cess Pool of Death (illuminated by my head lamp).

That was pretty much it. On the way back we noticed a few things we had not seen on the way in. First was a metal grate in the ceiling near the half way point, and just above us, what looked like a steam tunnel, running perpendicular to our drain. It wouldn't budge for us. The next was a similar hatch in the roof, but this one was a solid sheet of metal, which had been bolted in place, and then the nuts soddered. Bummer.

Left to right: Rataphobe, Deadhead Bob, & Cheese.

A very cool shot with the lights on.

Spider webs on the roof of the tunnel near the entrance.

I actually ended standing up right into this stuff when we climbed in. The webs got in my hair, and then I had spiders hanging in my face, crawling on my neck, oh it was fun!

At least I got some cool shots. We discussed biking down to Minnehaha, but our stomachs, wallets, and schedules dashed our hopes of exploring the Amphitheater Drain, at least for the day.

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