Sunday, July 19, 2009
After crossing the hazard over some strategically placed logs and getting reloaded, we come upon the entrance to the tunnel. It's a grand entrance. There is a link fence gates with large signs reading:
But there was no turning back, it was too late in the day and to far to go back to North Bend, and the thought of crossing the washout again gave us no real choice but to try and brave the tunnel. Aus did a little reconnaissance on foot and realized that the pin hole of light at the end of the tunnel was the other side. Despite being able to see all the way through, the overwhelming dark did nothing to bolster our spirits. We were all a little nervous as we pulled out our lights and put on our jackets.
We capitalize on a small hole in the corner to squeeze ourselves and our bikes through. The tunnel is cold, wet, in dis-repair, and very, very, very Dark. We put on all of our lights and head into the inky depths. At its deepest, the interior temperature is in the forties and humid. Fallen tiles are strewn about a road covered in sand and riddled in washouts filled with puddles of black water.
Did I mention it was DARK?
About midway through, I had switched with Seth and was riding at the back. Turning over my shoulder I realized that the entrance, like the exit, was now but a pinhole of light. Seth wonders aloud, "If something did happen, how long would it take before someone realized we were in this tunnel?" Aus laughed uncomfortably and would not let me stop for a photo.
After what seemed to be five times as long as it actually was, we near the end of the tunnel. There is a lot of water seeping through the ceiling, though the road on this side is in better shape. Riding behind Aus, I realize I can see breath in the moist cold air. At this end we encounter a gate like the one on the other side.
This one, like the road, is also in better shape on this side. So much so, we had to unload in the cold and pass everything over the fence including our bikes. There is a strong humid wind on this side and, like a cold breath, moisture is visible coming from the vacant darkness.
After a long day on the Iron Horse we are buoyed by our adventure and head on with relieved smiles.