Trip Log: Trip 8

I met up with Snipe and one of his friends around 3:20 AM or so after D. had passed up on this trip. Our goal was to run the Fralin-Dietrick tunnel.

Our plans were complicated by the relatively high police presence. On the way to meet Snipe, I had passed by three officers, two on foot and one in an SUV. On the way to our entrance, we encountered an officer on foot and three in vehicles. One drove by on West Campus Drive, one parked in front of West AJ and the other happened to drive by in the parking lot next to Engel.

We opted to wait for the police activity to calm down a bit, so we headed toward the Drillfield. On the way, I happened to try the door in the Smyth archway. To our surprise (and mine, since I had tried that door the previous night and found it locked), it was open. We went in and headed downstairs to try to get in the mechanical room. Unfortunately, it was locked, so we went up to the second floor, walked into Hutchinson, went up to the third floor and finally made our way into Seitz. We went down to the basement of Seitz, but weren’t able to make it in to any of the storage rooms there.

Just as we were about to open the front door of Seitz to leave, an officer happened to drive by on Drillfield Drive. We waited for him to pass and left quietly, heading past Saunders to the sidewalk next to West Campus Drive. On the way, we discussed the possible Hillcrest-Saunders (or possibly Hillcrest-Agnew) tunnel. We passed over the manhole that emits a sound of leaking steam, a sound that is a bit disturbing to an urban explorer.

We made our way back up to our entrance and I went off in a loop around Cheatham to ensure the coast was clear. It was, so we popped open the raised grate in front of Fralin and went in.

After the two foot drop in from the grate, we had to go through a ton of mud to get into the tunnel. My left arm ended up completely covered, but my clothes fared a bit better. We probably should have accounted for the recent rain and tried a different tunnel, but it was too late to turn back. Plus, a little mud never hurt anyone.

I noted the section of tunnel to my right after entering that runs off through Fralin. At a first glance, it looks pretty inaccessible, but I think that it might be possible for someone who is small to climb in between pipes, provided that the section behind the pipes is clear, as it appears to be. I will have to do some more investigation.

We headed left toward Dietrick and moved quickly through the tunnel. Snipe covered his face as we passed by Latham Hall as he wasn’t sure if the entrance to the mechanical room there had motion sensors or cameras. It didn’t, but it looks like the door might have a simple magnetic sensor. It’s most likely kept locked though, since the university seems to be cracking down on entrances into buildings from the steam tunnels.

We continued through the tunnel, which turned to the right sharply just a little past Latham. As we hit the end of the tunnel, Snipe pointed out the smaller section of tunnel running into Dietrick’s mechanical room that we would be following. Unfortunately, it does not look like it is possible to enter the section of steam tunnel that is supposed to run to Ambler Johnson Hall from this tunnel.

After climbing up into the smaller tunnel to Dietrick, we headed into Dietrick. There’s a door that leads straight into the mechanical room. Due to construction down there, the door that leads to the tunnel is visible from the outside, so we had to be careful to ensure that no one would see us.

Dietrick’s mechanical room is pretty cool. There’s a lot of machinery; it appears that most of it is for the air conditioning. There’s also a door from the mechanical room into Dietrick’s crawlspace, which is also pretty cool. There’s a lot of junk just thrown around in there and some pipes are visible. There’s also a large horn attached to a smaller fire alarm; I presume that a single fire alarm is not sufficient for a crawlspace of the size of Dietrick’s.

Next, we headed up the stairs in the rear of the building. We went out the door to the loading dock after Snipe ensured it was clear and headed back to our dorms after completing a successful, but dirty, run.

-Fuse