Sunday, September 17, 2006

Jim & Dean


Location: East bank of the Mississippi River
Crew: Cheese and I
Mission Time: about 2 hours of biking and exploring
Difficulty: can't say really

It's been a while since we had done any serious exploring, so after I got off work this after noon, I called up Cheese and we started biking down the West Kitttsondale Drain. I had been there before with Ratophobe, but this would be Cheese's first time. I also took my Sony video camera with me this time too. It has night vision, which I figured would be an excellent asset in the pitch black underground. We climbed down the embankment, and into the outfall. To my excitement, there wasn't the choking mist hanging in the air this time. Once inside we geared-up, and recorded a few seconds of introductory video before pressing on (I'll post it once I convert it).

Up the Mississippi River from near the outfall of the drain.

Soon we reached the first obstacle, a waterfall that empties from a hole in the roof of the drain. I had decided to ware a like-new pair of second-hand Nike Airs instead of my usual shoes. In hind site, it was a poor choice. I started around the pillar of falling water, noticing that either the concrete had gotten slicker, or that the traction of these shoes was for shit.
Then I realised that was was laying on the ground, in the water, and feeling like someone had hit me in the head with a club! I pulled myself out of the water and walked, rather quickly, towards the outfall.

Head pounding, mind going in and out, I sat down to try and collect myself. I noticed that my ear was in pain too, and asked Cheese what he could see. It was bleeding a little I guess. This is about when I realized that exploring without a first aid kit or something of the sort, was a bad idea.

We came to the conclusion that what had happened was a really bad omen, and that it really didn't seem like a good idea to keep going. Then I noticed something just beyond the waterfall, a small light shining from beneath the water... my Mini-Mag. A good explorer never leaves a flashlight behind, besides, my Mini-Mags hold a special place in my heart. I took off my soaked socks and shoes, danced around the water fall, grabbed it, and danced back, trying not to lose my balance slipping on the super slick concrete.

So back up the river we went, to enjoy a perfect late September evening, and to show Cheese some of the other drains of interest.

Further up in the East River Flats area, I spotted an entrance that I had never noticed before. To our frustration, the gate was not locked, but decades of the elements had rusted it firmly into place.

The gate may be rusted shut, but I think I've found another way in, how about you?

We had just about decided to move on, when we were met by a man with long hair wearing a bandanna and what I'd describe as pajamas, walking up the bank. He introduced himself to us as Jim and explained that he was looking for firewood so he and his friend could build a fire. He was very nice and asked us if we would like to join them, and if we smoked weed at all. I told him that I was pretty much straight edge and that we were heading home. Before we left though, he asked us to help him carry back a piece of fire wood. It turned out to be the trunk of a tree that had long since died, but had not yet started to decay, leaving an excellent piece of dead wood to burn. We weren't in any hurry, so we volunteered to help. With a little group effort, we managed to push it down and carry it back to their fire pit, where we meet Dean. Again, we exchanged pleasantries before explaining that we did have to move on to get home for dinner. Before we did though, we helped Jim carry another even larger log over to the fire. He explained to us as a rule of thumb, think of how much wood you will use over night, and collect three times as much.

Jim, left, and Dean, right, sit back in front of their fire. In the background are the logs that we carried over.

In the background you can see Dean's makeshift tent.

So with handshakes and hugs we departed. Before we got too far we stopped at the roach tube from last time. I crawled in to take a look. At first I didn't see them. Then, as I got further in I noticed them. Multitudes lining the cracks and crevices, along with a host of crickets and spiders. I'll wait until we have a cold snap that kills them all off before I go back.
The evening wasn't a complete loss, not even remotely. My head still hurts as I write this, and my ear is pretty torn up (even though oddly enough it doesn't hurt), but I think we had a bit of an enlightening experience. Maybe there is more to Urban Exploring than I realized. We didn't get to the end on the Triple Helix, but we made some friends, and maybe learned a little something about humanity and ourselves in the process.

The sun setting in the West as the day draws to a close.

1 comment:

Mercutio said...

This is exactly what happened to my troupe a couple of months ago. One slipped right at the first waterfall, we decided to call it a night after that. Had no idea it was the triple-helix, which I've been looking for. Now I'll HAVE to go back...