Colorado 2010 pt.2 - Titan
I felt like hell the next day after celebrating Gilman and knocking back Joose until 4 a.m. - mostly because I didn't realize we would get such an early start & partly because I didn't realize it was 4 a.m. down in Drew's Lounge the night before - but the day must go on.
Our original plan of going to Left Hand Canyon was thwarted by wildfires, so instead, we went to some other mine that the Coloradoans had recently found.
As we got out of the vehicles at the first sight of collapsed mining structures, Cavemonkey informed us that we were about 10 miles from the substantial wildfires.
The funny thing is that he would later correct himself & admit that he learned that we were actually only 2 miles from the wildfires. For someone with a mean Joose hangover, the thick smoke & bumpy road was extra rough.
Although I have to admit that riding in the truck was better than walking.
I've never been off-roading before and this was only my second time in a Jeep, so pushing over these boulders and bouncing around still held novelty.
Eventually we would come to a cabin, some mining ruins and a mine entrance. Four of the explorers wasted no time in squeezing above the gate, while the rest of us cooked food and explored the mountain for other possible entrances.
Eventually I concluded that I'd be happier if I climbed into the mine instead of passing on the opportunity.
I was pleasantly surprised.
Past the gate, the mine went forward for 30 feet before it opened up with a higher ceiling and a collection of rotting wood.
This may not sound like much, but after I listened to Nailhed describe what was past the gate, I expected a lot less.
Here you can see the furthest I made it; the blackness is water below.
This picture was taken as I stood atop a pile of logs and a different gate was directly above me. As I looked forward, there were rock walls stretching 20 feet up each side & a few logs between the walls (see above). There wasn't really any good way to go forward & Nailhed looked at me like I was retarded when I tried scaling the wall sideways (I quickly abandoned that course of action).
The opening between the gate & the mine was a lot tighter than it looks. Even when I was going in, I was thinking to myself about how much of a pain-in-the-ass this would be when I wanted to get back out. You could take any two of the other four people who went inside...and I think I'd weigh more than whichever combination you came up with - meaning it was a little tighter for myself.
To add to the scene, I don't really like being meticulous or careful when climbing in or out of anything - I prefer to simply brute force & rumble through it like Jerome Bettis. This wasn't working for me & Nailhed+Arntz decided to come over & lend a hand - which ended up just making an even larger scene for everyone to witness & enjoy. I initially tried to superman out of the damn hole by having Arntz pull one arm & Nailhed pull another...until I cut the hell out of my thighs & backed out of that idea (I still have a scar on my right thigh to remember Colorado).
Eventually all it came down to was bending a little more than usual and squeezing my backside/hips/ribcage sideways through the opening.
Once I got out safe & everyone stopped laughing, it was time to pack the vehicles back up & return to the Coloradoan homes. YG had a dentist appointment and we had an appointment with a Cold War relic.
There were a few drinks and some relaxation at Drew's, but we had serious business to attend to this night, so we couldn't fully utilize Drew's Lounge just yet.
It is rad though, eh? Look at that Old Style clock!!!
Anyway, after some pizza was consumed & some time was passed, we were back on the road. We met with Cavemonkey at a supermarket and went inside to get some last provisions (the supermarket had sensor lights that lit up as you entered an aisle!). Then, since we wanted to take only one vehicle, 5 of us packed into the back of Cavemonkey's camper, while 5 of us sat up front in the truck cab.
I hadn't seen this kind of passenger to vehicle ratio, since driving the big red van home from the bar in Milton some years ago.
We quickly piled out of the truck and scurried through the night towards our target. The proximity of nearby houses meant we couldn't use flashlights, so we had to rely on our eyes adjusting to the star & moonlight.
Powerlines towered above us as we speed walked through the night & eventually down a grassy hill.
The target tonight was the Titan Missile Silo. Developed in the 1950s and used into the 1960s, the Titan system was to be a backup for the Atlas system - which were both intercontinental ballistic missile systems used to defend the United States. The most action the Titan Missiles saw was when they were readied for launch during the Cuban Missile Crisis, but they were eventually replaced by upgraded missile sites in 1965.
Each site contained a network of tunnels and the various sections required to launch three separate missiles; all spread over 30 to 60 acres of the underground.
We entered at the "portal" you see above & the first area we entered was the powerhouse...where I only took two pictures & got a resulting weaksauce panorama.
From the powerhouse, the tunnel leads to an intersection and several of us went one way, several another way & the rest another way.
I learned from my friend Danny that these tunnels are generally up to 40 feet underground & again, I had to purposefully think about how far I'm underground and the infrastructure around me.
It was really neat to be plodding along, walking for great distances through these steel tunnels (reinforced with feet of concrete).
The site seemed sketchy enough when we had to walk on angle iron to cross colourful water, then we were warned that the missile silo was ahead & poof! 6 story drop to stagnant silo water below!
There were 3 silos in all, so I opted out of the precarious first silo, instead trying to capture the 2nd one which we came to. It was amazing the difference in water between the two silos - as the first had to be 40% full, while the 2nd had to be only 10% full.
For an even greater sense of scale, you can see a platform about 2/3rds of the way down the above picture - people were coming out of that little area from time to time & that small handrail is chest high.
The command center area was interesting because of the old school music graffiti (Van Halen, Dio), as well as the metal wall riddled with bullet holes - someone was having some fun down here.
It wasn't all that exciting in terms of command center equipment left behind though.
Obviously it was pitch black 40ft underground, so lots of time was spent lightpainting and taking long exposures.
By the time we covered the entire network, we were all very ready to head home - a problem arose though, as the walk back to the car was quite terrifying. You see, we gathered everyone by the portal and set out to leave, but outside of the portal, we could all hear insanely loud winds and a distinct howling sound. Since we were at the bottom of a grassy, circular depression, we sent someone out to the top of the ridge to have a look and make sure there wasn't a tornado or a strong thunderstorm afoot.
Somehow plans fell apart and we all started up the grass hill before the lookout man could return to us. We decided to make for it, as the intense winds swayed the giant power lines above us. We could hear the lines arcing and see the bright flashes as we rushed through the night. In addition, the high winds made for a whirling sound, much like you imagine is associated with a tornado.
That was enough for me to start moving quickly & it didn't help when I asked the Nebraskan if he ever heard or experienced anything like this - which he hadn't. I thought this had to be some dangerous weather if he had never experienced anything like it growing up in the Great Plains.
Generally, hikes are shorter on the way back as you know how long it will be - this wasn't the case this time. Sure we made it back fine, but it seemed to take forever. I longed for the security of the truck.
I remember more of the discussion on the ride home focusing on that weather than on the Titan base. After returning to the supermarket, we continued home in a few more cars & I quickly fell asleep in the backseat.
1 - Wikipedia - HGM-25A Titan I
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