The writers discovery of Gwynns Falls Run Storm Sewer Interceptor Drain was a mix of casual topographical and historical research. Assessing the topographical features, its existence as a sizable tunnel was one that just “made sense”. Not only, the initial reconnaissance trip was one that was just such a huge success. Safe and inconspicuous parking was stumbled upon next to a business. Which allowed for the sometimes crucial, rapid inconspicuous deployment. The on foot portion could not have gotten any more straight forward. A series of bum trails were ultilized that lead to some animal trails, cris crossing through light poison ivy patches that crossed close by to a what looked to be a gully that lead right down to the stream bed laced with the unmistakable smell of sewer fresh. If only every drain discovery was that easy.
Now back in the summer of 2017 when all of this manifested, it was apparent that this drain would require paddling/ floating in. A ledge wrapped around inside the culvert traveling back inside about 8 meters before dropping off into an abyss. There was no way to tell how deep it was where the ledge stopped. The writer initally estimated it was probaly 2-3 metersdeep just at a wild guess. None the less, this system was a priority tunnel to be explored and early on in the 2018 season an inflatable kayak was purchased.
The spring of 2018 had above average rainfalls and the height of water table was in congruence with this. However, It had not rained in over 20 days. So conditions were ripe to push into this unknown high volume storm drain interceptor. When comparing access to other drains and sewers, it was not as treacherous to get to it however it did entail the furthest distance (approximately 550 meters as the crow flys).In addition to carrying the default draining gear a 20kg kayak would need to be carried to the site. The decision was made to slim down my pack both in physical size and by weight from 13kg to 7kg. Basically only carrying the bare essentials (camera gear, PVC chest waders, H2O, 5 small torches, small med kit). The reasoning behind this was the expenditure of energy and also the fact that part of the penetration would be paddling on water which was a totally new variable.
The Expedition’s Logic: To Go or Not to Go:
Not to Go:
- I had not acquired a life jacket yet (something I feel that is necessary regardless if your in a boat when documenting these underground galleries)
- I also had not acquired a multi gas monitor a crucial $600 luxury.
- No buddy system, yet another solo venture – Unsuccessful with convincing or aligning schedules with a buddy to go along with me.
- It was a sunny cloudless afternoon in July.
- The absence of precipitation for 20+ days.
- The radar showed the closest clouds 150km away.
- US Aviation weather centers METARS showed the predicted zones of convection popping up in the Midwest.
- Main branch Gwynn’s Falls water volume at the USGS sensor at Washington Blvd running slightly below average 250 cu/ft second.
- Scheduled to work the next 5 nights in a row.
So it was now or never…
This post will be a working progress and remains unfinished at time of writing.
Last edit // 08/07/2018