Trip Log: Trip 3

The three of us, D., B., and I left our dorms at around midnight and headed off toward the cage. We knew that we wanted to explore some of the new steam tunnels over in the Life Sciences District, but we weren’t sure about entrance points..

B. decided to run back to grab his camera, cell phone, and car keys, since he had to move his car before the next morning. He came back and drove the three of us to the cage. From there, we headed up to the steam tunnel construction on Duckpond Drive. The perimeter fence there is pretty pathetic; we didn’t even have to climb it. There was one section of fence held together only by a small piece of rope, so we just slid the fence apart enough to give the three of us room to squeeze in.

Once in, we climbed down a ladder into the pit that will one day become a steam tunnel. Construction was in a much earlier stage than we had anticipated; although the pipes were in place, the actual tunnel wasn’t; there were just large steel retaining walls around the pipes. We followed the pipes, but unfortunately hit a dead end. We backtracked a bit and climbed back out using a ladder. We investigated a few manholes, but none of lead to completed steam tunnel.

We slid back out through the fence and headed up toward a more promising entrance near Life Sciences. We sat in the gazebo across the street in the horticultural garden for a bit and discussed what we would try next. It turned out that the “water” manhole that I had scouted out a weekend earlier was perfect, so after making sure it was clear, we popped it and climbed in. Jumping in would have been a bad idea, since the ladder was at least 8 feet tall.

After climbing in, we found ourselves in a large, well-lit, open room, with a smaller tunnel running off toward Bioinformatics to our west. It was probably at least 120 degrees down there and extremely humid. We left our stuff in the big room, followed the tunnel, and found ourselves at another open area. There was about a five foot drop, and B. checked it out first. He found a ladder, climbed up it, opened a door, and found himself in a storage room. We figured that it must be on the bottom floor of Bioinformatics, and we were right.

We decided to try the door from the storage room and realized that it led straight into a hallway near the elevator lobby of Bioinformatics. Seeing as how the manhole over at Life Sciences was pretty visible, we decided that it would be best if we left through that door, so we went back and grabbed our stuff and walked right out of a stairwell door near the loading dock.

There was actually another manhole near Life Sciences. It was behind the construction fence, but fences aren’t a problem for us. We were able to squeeze in without any trouble, but realized that the open manhole was just full of water and didn’t have ladder. We decided to scrap that idea and head over toward Hillcrest and try to enter through there.

While on the way, we ran into Y. and E. We had told them we were going tunneling and they were trying to come scare us, but they couldn’t figure out where we were exactly. They told us that they had been up at the grate near Hillcrest and that someone had been staring at them and beating on her window while they looked at a grate. Clearly, that wasn’t the best place to go. We tried the grate in front of Litton-Reaves, but we noticed that someone in the lounge of New Hall West was staring at us as well. I guess that tunnel will just have to wait for some other time.

I decided that I would show everyone the Agnew-Cowgill run, as I was the only one that had ever done that run before. B. had been tunneling before, but he did the Cassell-Femoyer run. The Ag Quad was deserted, so we just walked over to the Saunders grate, opened it, and went in.

We started off heading toward the Drillfield, skipping the Ag Quad subtunnel and followed the run to Burruss. Unfortunately, the Burruss Door was padlocked, but we did poke our heads out of an open manhole into the crawlspace of Burruss, which turned out to be just south of the pedestrian tunnel.

We continued toward Cowgill, climbed down the ladder, hit the dead end, and turned back. We’re pretty sure that this section of tunnel is no longer used; it’s a lot cooler and quieter.

Even though the GBJ-Hahn North run is hot and cramped, we decided it couldn’t be much worse than the Bioinformatics run earlier, so we climbed down and followed it until it ended with the pipes running off toward Hahn North. We skipped the Derring subtunnel, headed back up toward the main tunnel, and followed our path back.

We walked across the plank and found ourselves at a grate. Luckily for us, someone didn’t actually close the padlock so that it actually locked the grate, so we were able to make it up to the door to Agnew. Unfortunately, that was locked, so we turned back and left through the Saunders grate.

All in all, I think this was the most successful run I’ve ever done. We’ll do some more investigating in the Life Sciences District and keep you guys updated.

-Fuse