1: 12/21/01: Discovery !
Max Action, Slim Jim, Danarchy, Thumper
The night we found our way into the Wabasha Bridge was also the
first night we discovered a way into the TCRT tunnels, after going
through five other Labyrinth tunnel systems, two of which (the TCRT
and "Wabasha Bridge Tunnels") we had discovered for the
first time that same trip. As you can imagine, we were pretty excited
already, as we explored the crawl-height sandstone
tunnels that we'd discovered far above the ghostly TCRT passages.
and I had found this new system while impatiently scouting ahead
in the TCRT system, as Thumper and Jim took care of some business
(no, that would not be business of a sexual nature). By the time
they caught up (we'd made sure it was clear which way we'd gone
so they could follow), the two of us had already explored a good
portion of the smallish system. We'd discovered that one of the
tunnels, which sloped upward at a 45 degree
angle, led into a very mysterious space.
tunnel opened up into a hallway-like passage: rectangular, with
a smooth, slanted floor. At the top was what seemed to have once
been a sub-basement, although it was now
filled with rubble and had what looked like a more recent building's
foundation protruding down into it. At the other, lower end of the
hallway, was what we think was a vast freight elevator shaft, which
went far, far down. We were unable to
lean out and see where, if anywhere, this empty shaft led to below.
If we ever learn proper climbing techniques, this would be an interesting
place to check out some day, we figured. Little did we suspect that
one day we'd be back and rappel down the shaft into the Cobb
and I waited while Jim caught up and checked out the hallway, room,
and elevator shaft; Thumper had just discovered she was claustrophobic
and opted to wait for us at the entrance to the crawl tunnels.
Jim went to scout out a long, wiggle-room only sandstone tunnel
filled with pigeon shit, while Danarchy and I were waited around
for him to return. After awhile, we got bored, and decided we should
go see what the heck was on the other side of the chained-off
passageway we'd passed earlier.
led us to a strangely-shaped brick and wood passage, which turned
back into a short sandstone crawl tunnel, which opened up into a
small, partially collapsed cave. It was
more than a little unnerving to look at the absolutely massive slab
of ceiling that had come down, crushing half the cave. Did something
cause it to fall, or did it just one day … drop? The cave was seemingly
manmade, without an arched ceiling to give it strength. At least,
I figured, if it gave way with us in it, the end would be quick.
The ceiling, however, was waiting for another day to kill us, and
cave had two tunnels leading from it. There was the one we'd entered
from, and another that was almost completely sealed off by a flow
of rough concrete that had been poured in to support a newish-looking
cement support pillar. When I say rough, I mean it. Not only was
the remaining space exceedingly narrow, making passage difficult
to begin with, but the concrete was as abrasive as broken glass.
As Danarchy wiggled into it, it snagged his clothes and skin in
dozens of places, and I knew from similar experiences that he was
going to be mighty pissed off if the tunnel led only to a dead end.
much squirming and cursing, he made it past this obstacle, and paused,
training his light ahead. "Dead end." His tone made it clear that
these words ranked among the vilest of obscenities. Ahead, the light
illuminated the end of the short tunnel, which appeared to be boarded
crawled through the sandy tunnel to the apparent end, and suddenly
his head vanished to the left. There was a long, drawn out pause.
"Holy … shit." His words echoed as if in a huge space, and I began
to get very excited.
What is it?"
pause. "I have … no … idea." Pause. "Whoa."
made the painful journey over the concrete, and crawled down to
join him. The wooden boards, which I'd already been thinking of
prying open, turned out to be only the form over which a foot and
a half wall of cement had been poured. However, someone or something
had dug an opening around this wall, through
the sandstone. This is what Danarchy's head had vanished into.
made room for me, and I stuck my head out. "Holy … SHIT!" My first
impression was of a cavernous space, a long drop to a distant
floor, giant cement walls and ceiling, and an impossible natural
wall complete with dead bushes and weeds. My mind, I admit, was
well and truly boggled. Initial attempts at an interpretation of
what I was seeing included the space between the walls of the Ramsey
County Jail and the bluff (some sort of escape-proofing barrier?)
or the edge of the Excel Energy Center (which I knew damn well we
were nowhere near).
when I had pulled back into the tunnel did my mind start working
clearly enough to realize this might be some sort of bridge room,
albeit one unlike any I'd ever seen or heard of. At about that time
Jim returned from his trip through the Pigeon Hole. He reported
that after a long, insanely tight wiggle (not even room to crawl),
he'd wound up outdoors, in a hole high up on the cliff. Action Squad
knew that hole well: we'd talked about the possibility of rappelling
down to it (climbing up to it was impossible) on several occasions.
Jim looked out, and we all sat there trying to get our bearings.
Quickly we realized that we were under the Wabasha Street Bridge,
and that this was the inside of one of the huge retaining walls.
We were in a hole high up on the steep bluff, in a space enclosed
by massive cement walls. It was nothing short of amazing; something
between a cliff and a cave; a large chunk of the outdoors, indoors.
I had the eerie sensation of being in the artificial environment
of a zoo exhibit … "Ooh, look, mama! Look at the funny animal in
down from our little cave, it became obvious pretty quickly that
there was no easy way down. The slope beneath the hole was crumbly
sandstone at an almost perfect vertical, without adequate hand or
foot holds. Even if one got to the first ledge, which was about
7 feet down and to the side, the drop from there was at least twenty
feet, and the cliff face went inward as it went down, making controlled
descent without ropes or wings rather unlikely.
we'd be back, we set about searching for something to attach a rope
to. Just outside the mouth of the tunnel to the left and back (directly
above the first ledge), we discovered an iron rod sticking out of
the cement retaining wall which was quite sturdy.
this time it was fast approaching dawn, and we knew that Thumper,
who was still back at the Bridge Room Tunnel's entrance, had to
be at work in a few hours. So, vowing to return the next night rather
than going on our planned trip to Hamm's Brewery,
we squeezed back out past the hateful cement.
was fine; in fact, she reported that she'd taken a brief nap until
thoughts of rats awoke her and made further sleep impossible. We
went back out through the multiple tunnel systems, before emerging
under a clear night sky. We sought and found sustenance at Mickey's
Dining Car, and then those of us who did not have to work went to
bed, just as the sun came out completely.