Sunday, November 18, 2007

Dan's Drain / Davern Drain

Finally, Dan's Drain! After 3 different trips to find that damn oufall, we finally went and explored all of that elusive drain. The entrance was just below my feet the whole time...

I called a fellow explorer named Jasper last night and, thankfully, she was up for going draining. I biked to her house and we got all of our stuff together for an adventure underground. We left her place and biked to a spot near the outfall where we locked our bikes up to a nearby tree. We then went on a bit of hike through the woods and found ourselves at the outfall near the river. We slipped into the drain with no difficulty and found ourselves a room underground with two different passages.:

One was an RCP headed off to the left, while the other was a low, rectangular tunnel going to the right. We elected to go down the RCP, as we were equipped with tall, rubber boots and we were anxious to try them out. We sloshed upstream and It got a lot shallower until the tunnel became a crazy triangular shape! The tunnel actually looked like a triangle and continued on this way for as long as we could see.

We hiked a ways up the drain and began to hear the sound of falling water from a long distance. The sound got louder and louder an louder until we emerged in a HUGE ROOM underground shaped sort of like the tunnel from which we had just come. A huge dropshaft poured water from a shallow draining shaft way above us and a second, dry dropshaft led to a grate on the surface. I knew my camera had very little battery, I whipped it out quick to take a picture:

This doesnt really give you the scale of this place....its really big. My batteries died right after this however, so I dont have any more pictures of Dan's drain, even though it got even more interesting as we went on.

The atrium turned out to be a dead end, so Jasper and I turned back to go to the other passage. We made it back to the outfall in no time, and went into the crouching, rectangular tunnel. After a few hundred feet, it opened up into an older, coffin shaped passage that headed straight into the city. Another triangular drain went off to our left, but we continued down the older shaft and vowed to return to this passage.

A few dropshafts later and a lot of weird graffiti (Including "BOMB SADDAM 1993) we turned down a walking height side tunnel that, according to the graffiti, goes under Norfolk Ave. The tunnel was of a different make than the previous one: it had the look of an old sewer with the depressed brick channel in the middle and cement walls to walk on on the side. The cieling was carved from the naked sandstone and wasnt round but triangular and cut sloppily. The tunnel was pocked with even smaller side tunnels leading to dropshafts that had amazing mineral and cave-like formations.

The tunnel went far and stopped abruptly at a dropshaft and catchbasin filled with really really clear water that Jasper almost walked right into. Above us was a ridiculously long dropshaft going up to the surface, and another dropshaft before that one had something even more interesting in it.

We turned back, and walked the long walk back to the main drain. We explored a few of these long offshoots, one, which was labeled as "West Seventh" went on for a ridiculously long time towards downtown and was coated with clay and a lot of really weird minerals. A few really cool dropshafts dotted the tunnel, and it dead ended after a long long trek. We turned around and headed back.

The main drain continued on for a while, but got shorter and shorter as the drop shafts grew more numerous. We ended at a dead end: time to head back to that one tunnel we havnt checked out yet.

That tunnel turned out to resemble the other triangular tunnel from the original branch at the outfall. We followed it down, and came across a raccoon a the bottom of a dropshaft a few feet away from us that scared the crap out of me and made Jasper shriek loudly. However, a closer (but not too close) inspection revealed that the raccoon had apparently fallen down the shaft and broken a leg, as it lay there and looked at us with pitying eyes with its leg folded awkwardly underneath its fat body.

We continued down the shaft and came to an identical atrium as the one pictured above, so we turned back and headed back to our bikes, popping out of a manhole near the outfall.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Saint Anthony Park Drain / Lucky 13

I got out of class yesterday and hopped the next bus headed north to Jaques' house, loaded down with exploring equipment galore, along with some extra pairs of socks. There, I met up with Franklin Delano Nothing of Island Station Drain fame and Jaques himself. Jaques mentioned that he needed a new Bible for a class he was taking, so we drove over to Barnes and Noble to get it. We stopped at Target on the way to look for water shoes, but I guess they dont sell them in November or something.

So we then went off to the big ol' river to go head into big ol' Lucky 13. We parked close by in the residential neighborhood and went on down to the outfall. Oddly enough, the city had decorated the outfall with park benches and ornate fences (why?). A quick hop over a 3 foot fence (that was padlocked) led us to a ladder that descended into the river. Goxkok climbed down and poked the water to test the depth. Turned out it was only about 2 feet deep! We all jumped into the River and splashed carfully into the outfall of the drain.

We headed into the behemoth and took the left fork when it split off into three parts. We were greeted by a friendly sandbar and lots and lots of fish that darted off when they saw us approaching. We quickly made it into the main drain tunnel, which was a huge 13 foot RCP. Our hoped of being relativly dry were shot when we noticed the torrent of water flowing towards us. Here, Franklin looks back lovingly at the outfall and dry land.

Onward! We trudged onwards up the huge pipe and through the river having a great time. It was pretty slow going, as the water pressed against our feet as we pushed forward. Our waves created cool whirlpools that sucked at our feet and we all proceeded to freak out as Goxkok kicked what seemed to be a submerged rock but turned out to be a HUGE FUCKING FISH that, trapped, did all that it could: swim through our legs brushing up against our shins!!!!! Fuck, that shit was surprising!

We continued to laugh about the fish as we trudged onwards. Here, Frankin and Jaques smile cheerfully as we all follow the drain far under the city.

We came across a really neat side passage that was lined with brick and actually very pretty. We followed it a ways, noting the various holes in the wall that led to older draining pipes. Note the slippery orange slime in the middle: that shit was gross.

We walked maybe 5 minutes down this side passage and came across this weird dropshaft at the end. There was this strange set of cement moats that seperated the dropshaft from the side passage that we occupied. Across the first long moat (maybe 4.5, 5 feet?) there was a cement platform that had a side passage going out of it. Jaques had major balls and decided to jump the moat to see what was down the passage. Here he is making it successfully to the other side:

Jaques peered down the hallway and noted a strong sanitary smell wafting from the entrance. He declined to climb the short staircase and instead examined the dropshaft that the end of the hall. He then lept back to where Franklin and GoxKok were waiting, but slipped in the orange shit in the process. Check out that goop stain!

Awesome. We headed back to the main shaft and headed onwards through the 13' RCP. Shortly after, we made it to a waterfall thing that we had to climb up. Franklin almost wussed out, but succumbed to peer pressure and ended up getting drenched. At last, we made it to the Lucky 13 Temple!

We walked under the temple, noting that, unlike the Drowned Cat Temple, the grate underneath had been totally plugged by minerals of some kind. Also, there was only one "ladder", or what used to be a ladder. Now its just a laddershaped lump of minerals that was difficult to climb. Here, Jaques ascends the ladder up to the upper level where (if this temple was the same style of the ToTDC) we knew the iron catchbasin would be sitting.

Yep! The huge iron impact cup rested right in the middle of the upper platform . I climbed the ladder a bit to get a good picture of my exploring mates next to the cup. Oddly, even though the torrent of water was much higher than the other Temple, we werent getting nearly as soaked.

The ladder that we knew went up to the surface was extremely sketchy: parts of the grate were missing so one would have to switch from ladder to ladder in order to ascend the passage. We feared death and did not attempt it! Seriously, look at this:

Instead we posed cheesily for a three person photo : Look at those handsome dudes!

Defeated yet very satisfied, we made our way back to the outfall and dry land. Here, Goxkok slides awkwardly down the mini waterfall that led from the Temple to the main drain. Miraculously, no one fell into the rushing torrent.

Walking back proved to be much easier than going against the flow of the water. We made it to the side passages in no time at all. We rounded a turn in th e tube and saw the dimly lit outfall way in front of us! Jaques' car, warm feet, extra socks and McDonalds were close by! We trudged quickly forward and headed out the outfall and into the Mississippi
Here, Franklin climbs the ladder up to the land, dripping wet and freezing cold.

A quick walk to the car proved to be tough in our cold shoes and a foot warming session involving the heaters was called for. After that, a drive to Jaques to get warm clothes and money and McDonalds, as per tradition! They fucked up our order, so we got extra apple pies too! Fuck yeah!


While jumping the gap, my mind was not on the pain of a fall, but on the liquid STD pit before me. It was not an appealing thought to be soaked head to foot in nast, and then be turned into a nastcicle once I went outside. Jokes about the Mississippi river and Admiral Ackbar followed these thoughts. Also, a word of warning: wear rubber boots if you do this sorta thing, its gets goddamn cold once you get back to the surface.


Tuesday, November 6, 2007

East Kittsondale Helix

Woot! We went on an impromptu exploration mission today. Myself and a friend named Holler were going to set out and explore the 28th street drain in Minneapolis ourselves, but at the last minute Jaques called us and joined up! He met us and we rolled by means of his car to the outfall in Minneapolis.

We got to the drain, only to find the water level so high that entry was impossible except by a canoe or raft of some sort.... which we did not have. Sadly we had to turn back and clamber up the sandy cliffs back to his car. PWNMOUNTAIN!

Plan B: East Kittsondale Drain

We drove down to where we knew the outfall was (thanks city of Saint Paul!) and did a fair amount of stumbling down steep hills and searching around in the dark before we came across a small drain entrance: We climbed in and explored what turned out to be an abandoned sewer almost exactly like the Drake St. Drain from a few nights ago, complete with the side tunnels that led to nowhere and the brick/sandstone architecture. Cool, but dead end.

We climbed back out and quickly found the truly massive outfall for the East Kittsondale staring us right in the face: this thing was huge! And very intimidating! We were above it on some cliffs, and needed to get down to it which looked difficult. Some kind explorers had left a useful rope on the east side of the outfall and we used it and the footholds in the sandstone to caaaareefuly lower ourselves into the outfall. One misstep and it meant a tumble into the freezing cold Mississippi for us!

At last, the outfall! The pillars were really cool, and the floor was really slippery. We grabbed onto a kind vine to prevent a dip in the river. Here Holler poses victoriously in the outfall among the cool pillars:

We hope that we arent going to get as wet as the West Helix forced us to get, but it seems as though the water level is much lower than it was when we went to the Triple Helix System. The water also had a weird orange tint to it, which was pretty and sort of weird. Here we prepare to venture into the vast drain that awaits us.

This drain system has a ton of really interesting little groundwater springs that have broken in through the walls. These springs leave intricate and beautiful little designs with all sorts of colors on the walls and floor, from orange spiderwebed designs to floes of bone-white calcium. Also, interesting architecture was noted: here Jaques poses with a bricked off old brickwork doorway.
Cool. We marched on down the tunnel, knowing we had a long march ahead of us. I paused to take a long exposure shot of the drain as Holler and Jaques walked down it (I reccomend going to for a MUCH better size): note the different lights. One is a Xenon bulb and the other is an LED Maglite. Which one could be which? Hmmm...
We took a side passage and walked up a short set of steep stairs that led to a bricked off passage, almost certainly a seperation between the two sewer systems. Here is a shot of Jaques and Holler looking up at me from the base of the stairs. They look so happy!

Woah! What happened?! The helix appeared out of nowhere! We expected a much longer walk before we got to the spiral staricase, but here it is! This thing is huge, even larger than the massive spiral stairs in its West sister. It lacked that side trough though, so water was pouring down the whole staircase which made the climbing very wet.

This is another long exposure of Jaques and Holler climbing up the staircase. The blob of light in the corner is Jaques leaping over me to get to the stairs after he tied his show, its not the sun. Not the crazy orange color of the stairway to the right.

Climbing the helix, an almost endless ever turning ascent into the unknown. Jaques looks like an old fat woman in this photo if you ask me...

Here we are, at the top of the long climb up the spiral stairs with that crazy eroding set of stairs that look realy cool but are really slippery. We have no idea what lies ahead of us as we scamper along the tunnel. Unlike the other helix which gives way to a bunch of smaller drains up in the shallow levels, this drain was just as big as it was a hundred feet below.

Here is the first picture of GoxKok, taken as he tests a manhole in a room for liftability. It fails the lifting test and he descends. Damn! Check that ass out!


Here are the buddies! We are in a small room underground that is a welcome change to the tunnels weve been walking through for a while. Friends always, even underground, Jaques and GoxKok pose for a snapshot. FRIENDS 4EVAR!

The intrepid exporers continue on, even though the tunnel has turned into an RCP. The sides have disappeared and the floor of the drain is now just water. The intrepid explorers are not daunted however, and they trudge forward in their non-booted feet. They proceed to get really wet, much to their dissatisfaction, but the smiles on their cute little faces remain!

We trudged on and on and on through the boring RCP getting wetter and wetter. Dams of trash would block up water and create huge deep sections that came up past our shins and really made us sad. But what is this up ahead? Woah! A fucked up stairway underground! Its painted like a tiger even! Where should we go? Probably up!

Here is another one of those failed long exposure shots, this one of Jaques and Holler ascending the tiger stairway. I kind of like how it turned out. Again, go to for a MUCh better looking size, you can see way more.

The RCP continued on seeminly forever and turned into a bunch of smaller tunnels: some assrape tunnels, some really smelly tunnels, some tunnels that deadended and others that were too skinny for us to slip into. We hoped and hoped for a manhole to be safe, but all manholes had cars rumbling over them at high speeds (we figured that we were running directly a busy road of some sort) SADNESS!

We ended up having to turn back and head to the helix and downward. It really sucks having to backtrack, but the dread drain fever had us in its grips and totally screwed us over. We faced a long ass walk to the outfall, including a long trudge through cold leg deep water. Sweet!

We made it back to the outfall in good time, thoroughly soaked and disheveled. We clambered back up the sandstone cliffs (found a cavey thing) and back to Jaques' car. Time to take off our soaking shoes and to get some FUCKING JIMMY JOHNS!!!!! (Holler = vegetarian so no McDon)

We really really loved this mission, even though we got soaked and cold and had to walk the whole way back. The helix was amazing and so was the tiger-like stairs near the end of the tunnel along with all of the cool architecture and changing drain shape.

-GoXkok OUT!!

Monday, November 5, 2007

Davern/Dan's Drain Failure and Drake St. Drain

Its been a while since the last update so I thought Id fill the masses in with what has been going on recently:

Either we are really bad at scouting or this drain is really hard to find because after THREE different scouting trips we still havnt found the outfall to Dan's Drain, AKA Davern Street Drain:

1. We go in the dark and spend 2.5 hours scouring the riverside near where we know the drain outfalls. After a long period of stumbling over tripwire vines, getting owned by thorns and burrmountain and getting soaked in the Mississippi we came up with nothing but a strange cement fence wall thing that clearly wasnt a drain and a marina that was nowhere near where we wanted to be and where scared old ladies yelled at us to go away. Failure!

2. This time we go again at night and explore the hills to the west of where we were the other night and swiftly were kicked out by a roving security truck. Luckily, the guy didnt ask us why we were in the forest off the trail with flashlights covered in burrs. We later went on to explore the Drake St. Drain (next)

3. I went personally by bike to check this place out in the light, hoping to have more luck. The concrete wall thing turned out to be sme sort of drain thing: water was dripping inside of it and had two small outfalls to the river but clearly couldnt be acessed by humans. I followed where the tunnel went underground and found rusted manholes but nothing enterable. I went around the rest of the area, but couldnt find a damn thing and had to go back due to time. It was truly:

Well, the second night out we ended up going to the Drake St Drain instead, which was a nice change from being pwnd constantly to actual exploration. Sadly, my camera was locked in the room of a neighbor and so this trip isnt documented with pictures :( We went with Nebulon, who is a friend of Jaques' from the U. We clambered down some sketchy sandstone and made it down to the river to look for the outfall and bam! There it was right in front of us!

We slipped and slid our way through the clay to the main tunnel in the drain which is about high and only 4 feet wide throughout the drain. We hiked a ways back, with a strong wind in our faces. Multiple side tunnels went off to our right and became old 1800's abandoned sandstone sewers which we vowed to explore on the return trip back to the outfall. The min tunnel ended at a dropshft which had a concrete divider that went up maybe 100 feet to a manhole cover and a shallow drain level. We turned back and went down the first old sewer

The sewer had loads of bats (!) on the walls that were hanging, though they didnt seem to mind us (hibernating? It is Nov...) Many sandy side tunnels ran off to our rights and lefts , though they all ded ended at other pipes that were falling apart. We were surprised to come across a bid ol' stairway!! With huge steps!! That dead ended in a brick wall!! It smelled like a sewer on the other side, so we expect its part of the W. 7th sewer maze and the walled off portion was part of the effort to seperate the two systems.

On the way back to the outfall we explored the rest of the side tunnels but nothing interesting was to be found except lots of balls of all kinds (Tennis balls, whiffle balls, plasticy bouncy balls and even marbles) why balls I cannot say, maybe they get trapped easier.

We made it back to the outfall and scrambled up the cliff in the wee hours of the morning and headed back to Jack's abode to sleep peacefully and wonder where the fuck Dan's/Davern Drain is....