Sunday, April 20, 2014

Elliot and the Ice Tunnel

The plan was to go riding and then hit Friendly's for dinner.  After dropping of his sister at a friends house I decided we should head over to Steep Rock Reservation and check out the old Shepaug Rail Road tunnel because I saw pictures from winter showing a lot of ice and it would be cool to see if there was any left.  I gave Elliot one of my many hydration packs I had laying around so he wouldn't have to stop to get off his bike to pull his water bottle out just to have a drink.  This way he could drink anytime he wanted.  He loves it and it was nearly drained by the time we were done riding.

Riding along the dirt road was fine for him but the rail trail was another story.  The bed is a lot softer and there are some muddy sections that we had to walk around.  I kept emphasizing how important it was to keep his speed up and try to concentrate on what was in front of him rather than just looking down the trail.  The rocks were proving troublesome and he hit a rut which sent him to the dirt.  He wanted to give up but I told him he can't because he needs to see this tunnel.  Somehow a shoe came off in the process so we shook off the dirt, got his shoe back on and continued pedaling.  After that, he sped up a little and it helped.

3rd Saturday of April means opening day of fishing season!

The north portal of the Shepaug Rail Road Tunnel was really damp and come to think of it, it's like this even in the summer to a lesser degree.  We parked our bikes at the mouth and ventured in.

The first thing you notice is the drop in temperature.  Must have been around 40 degrees in the tunnel compared to the 60 degrees outside.  About midway in there is a big flow of ice that stretches to both sides of the tunnel.  The picture I saw from the winter showed huge stalactites of ice coming down from the ceiling on both sides of the tunnel walls.  Now, the only thing left is a steady drip of water from whatever is percolating down from the Clam Shell above.  

I brought flashlights so Elliot could explore and see the ice better.

He was amazed at how solid it was and the shapes on both sides where it was the thickest.

We are now wondering how much longer will it last.

I think it could be around for another month.  
We are going to come back in a couple of weeks to see.
If there is no ice, then we'll ride the rest of the trail down to Tunnel Road.

Elliot pushed his bike and I rode up above the tunnel.

It was no bikes past this point to the Clam Shell so we walked a bit but Elliot wasn't prepared for a hike so we headed back to the bikes and started back towards the car.

I like how the No Bike sign is covered in wire mesh so it doesn't get torn down.  That must have happened a lot in the past because back in the day Steep Rock was a popular mountain biking destination and when the association took over they outlawed bikes on the trails for some stupid reason.  Too bad they did this because they could get a lot more help with their trails because mountain bikers understand that it's important to do regular maintenance in order preserve access as opposed to hikers and walkers who just take the trails for granted.

There are few remnants of history still lying around, like this stream tunnel under neath the rail bed.

While it was a short ride, it was still fun to see a part of history and mother nature in action.
Awesome day to be out on the bikes!

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