Trip Log: Trip 7

So I lied last time; I did the Hillcrest-Greenhouses run again. I met up with Snipe from VTExploration around 1 AM at Hillcrest. After making sure West Campus Drive was clear of cars, we removed the manhole in front of Hillcrest and went in.

Snipe showed me the section that runs down the hill toward Saunders; it actually begins right next to the entrance manhole. It’s blocked by some pipes, so in order to enter that section, you would have to use the other manhole. Of course, Snipe has informed me that particular run heads downhill at a pretty steep incline without any steps, so it’s not the most accessible tunnel in the world. He also told me that the run is very hot and that he suspects that there may be a steam leak, so it’s not a place I’ll be going anytime soon.

We headed down toward West Campus Drive. On the way, we noticed a filled in section of wall. It appears that there used to be access to the area beneath one of the stairs in Hillcrest here, but it’s since been filled in. If one felt destructive, it would probably be possible to knock the new wall in, but it doesn’t look like there’s anything interesting down there.

As we hit the main section of tunnel, I pointed out the inaccessible section that I believe runs up West Campus Drive and turns toward Fralin. That’s what the utilities map indicates, anyway.

As we headed down the the tunnel, we figured out the source of the banging noise that both Snipe and I had noticed before. Apparently, there are heat sinks installed on one of the steam pipes to help cool it. The heat sinks are also very good at creating a loud banging noise quite frequently. To someone who’s never explored this run before, the noise would be pretty disconcerting. You can even hear it outside the tunnel, since the heat sinks are installed near the big grate next to Litton Reaves.

Just before the tunnel makes it first turn under the traffic circle, we noticed the section of tunnel that crosses West Campus Drive and leads to the big grate on that side of the street. It’s blocked by some pipes, but it’s probably possible to squeeze through. There’s about a two foot drop down into that section of tunnel, which appears to be made of precast concrete. We’re not sure if the run ends at that grate or if it continues down Washington Street.

In the main tunnel, I pointed out the machinery that discharges steam to Snipe that’s located just after the tunnel turns to run next to Washington Street. It was still doing the same thing tonight.

We headed to the end of the run, which terminates in a room that is slightly larger than the rest of the tunnel. Some of the pipes run into the wall, probably leading into another section of tunnel and a few others run off toward the Greenhouses in an inaccessible section of tunnel.

We made our way back to the manhole at Hillcrest and exited without incident. This was a pretty successful run and I’m hoping that I can go tunneling with Snipe again soon.

-Fuse