Sunday, October 31, 2010

#429 Our Blue Ridge Tunnel

On Halloween we hiked nearly a mile into an abandoned rocky tunnel under the Blue Ridge Mountains stepping over piles of fallen debris in the dark while bat colonies roosted silently overhead and water dripped slowly from the soot-stained ceiling.

Yea, that was fun.
Built before the Civil War and before dynamite, this engineering marvel was once the longest tunnel in the United States at 4,263 feet. Now the west entrance to the Blue Ridge Tunnel lies in a woodsy grotto at the end of an unmarked trail a short hike off the beaten track and unknown to the hordes motoring Skyline Drive and walking the Appalachian Trail overhead.
Locals plan to refurbish the arrow-straight passage as a rail-trail connecting the Shenandoah Valley with the Virginia Piedmont. Until then, it's our dank hidden gem.
Yours in finding the light at the end of every tunnel,