I grew up spending most of my Sunday mornings asleep and entirely aware that most of my peers were in church. Now I work Thursday through Monday so this New Year’s Day 2012, was the first Sunday I’ve had off since Labor Day.
The day started at midnight, lounging around a bonfire behind my friend Chris’ parents’ house. We rang in the New Year with a few cheers and the echoes of fireworks and dynamite bouncing off the valley slopes from nearby celebrations. Walking back to the house after a couple more hours of chatting with friends I hadn’t seen for six months, I looked up at the stars. They shined through a hole in the low cloud cover and I realized I hadn’t seen stars for as many months. (A sacrifice of city living, I suppose.)
|Rusting "stairs" to Pulpit Rock|
|Reclaimed coal mine|
|Woods walking, also known as hiking|
After a few hours’ sleep, Chris, Norah, Richard and I woke up to a clear, brisk morning. A hike was on the agenda and since Chris spent grew up in the surrounding woods, we were given a guided tour of his childhood haunts.
The highlight for me was a look into a seemingly bottomless tunnel that was built from 1891 to 1934 under a coalmine for drainage. The tunnel itself was bizarre. Thick rebar lengths that crisscrossed to prevent people from climbing down blocked the 10-foot diameter entrance. It stuck out of the ground at a 45-degree angle like a giant worm from Dune. Looking down we saw rocks and trash that people had thrown but that hadn’t made it very far. About 50 feet down the lower half of the tunnel was caving in and a pile of dirt made seeing any further impossible.
|Down the Jeddo|
But even more compelling than a giant tunnel was the backstory. Chris told us that he had heard of people taking kayaks down into the tunnel. About three miles away there was an exit, but to get there the kayakers had to make it through pH 0 drainage water with no light and multiple rapids speculated at class 5. And depending on the recent weather the exit could be completely blocked with water rushing into the Nescopeak Creek. For those who make it out alive, the cops are usually waiting at the exit with handcuffs. And, Chris said, the Jeddo Mine Tunnel has a death rate worse than Mount Everest.
A great romp in the woods always needs a spooky story.
|Out of the woods and on for pizza!|
After hiking out to the car we’d earlier stashed, we headed straight for pizza and garlic knots. The cookies we ate out in the woods, called Million Dollar cookies, were delicious but calories from the butter and excess sugar were gone before we even ate them.
A morning of exploration and friends followed by too much food is my perfect Sunday.