Ten tips for tunneling out of Seton Hill

With some help from Bill Black himself, I was able to get in and take some photos. Photo courtesy of B.Malley.

With some help from Bill Black himself, I was able to get in and take some photos. Photo courtesy of B.Malley.

1. The truth hides in plain sight.
You’ve heard the stories, of course. A set of tunnels ten miles long running between Seton Hill and Saint Vincent. But that can’t be true, can it? Ask the faculty and staff and most will dismiss it*. Upperclassmen will tell you stories, each one trying to outdo the other until you’re not sure what’s fact.
This is why the story works. It’s just impossible enough that it has to be true, and that hint of truth means it’s all got to be a myth. A tall-tale. Nothing but legend.
And that’s all it is. Isn’t it?

2. Always carry a lighter and a pack of waterproof matches.
This is good general life advice (everyone – no matter what their size or strength or manner of dress – appears at least 18% more badass when they carry a lighter). However, it’s especially applicable in ramshackle tunnels that haven’t seen an update in electrical wiring since 1961**.
Carrying lighter fluid to refill your lighter may be difficult depending on how quickly you’ve had to leave and whether you had time to grab your bug-out bag. Just in case, waterproof matches should always be tucked in one of your pockets.

3. Dark tunnels are no place for anything less than blunt honesty.
While using sarcasm and understatement as means of endearment among family and friends is all good and well aboveground, down here it will get you killed in the tunnels. “Yippee, the gaping chasm isn’t too big-” Oh, excellent, you can go first.

Shown above is an angled shot of the tunnels. Photo courtesy of B.Malley.

Shown above is an angled shot of the tunnels. Photo courtesy of B.Malley.

4. Bring a buddy. Then bring a spare.
There’s a joke about two men outrunning a bear where the one man says, “I don’t need to outrun the bear. I just need to outrun you!” Put simply, teamwork is ideal – humankind has survived this long not as individuals but as groups. The ‘lone wolf’ idea is a destructive mentality.
Sometimes, however, teamwork falls apart when it gets down to the wire. This is never more true than in the tunnels. So although it may give you some guilt to do so, always keep survival stats running in the back of your head and prepare yourself to do what it takes to survive, including leaving someone behind. (Don’t tell ‘em who’s the spare, though, and remember that you too are someone else’s spare.)

5. You are never out of the woods.
Don’t ever get comfortable. Just don’t.

6. He who listens, lives.
You got five senses, so use ‘em. Keep quiet and listen, and always remember to look up. (Side note: Bringing a canary isn’t a bad idea. None of the tunnels are being actively expanded***, but it isn’t outside the realm of possibility for one of the deeper, older ones to collapse and let loose God knows what kind of fumes. Better to be careful.)

7. Be ready to change.
You’re probably not going to like who you’re going to be when you come out of the tunnels (assuming you make it). Don’t suffer any delusions that you’ll be a hero. That gets you dead or disappointed real fast. You should stock up on therapist’s numbers, too. Asking for help is better than the alternatives.

8. There is no such thing as too many pairs of underwear.
Seriously. There isn’t.

9. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.
With all the pipe systems going up and the heat vents coming from who knows how far below, you will get hot and you will be drained. Please don’t become one of those skeletal victims from a Tremors sequel. Keep a water bottle and purifying tablets handy and on you at all times.

10. Stop before you start.
Why do you need to go in the tunnels, anyway? What’s aboveground that’s so bad that you have to escape through here?
…Oh. Oh, I see. Better get a move on, then. I’ll see you underneath.

*Except Bill Black. Bill Black will wink and offer you candy.
**…and that’s just the newer sections.
***That we know of.

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