Sunday, October 9, 2011

The Devil's Milhopper

While in Florida for Molly's birthday, some of our time with Owen was spent exploring a mysterious place called Devil's Millhopper

By definition a millhopper is the box that catches grain after it is processed in a mill.  That sounds harmless enough, but by calling something the Devil's Millhopper, I thought it took on an eerie connotation.

Our hike started sedately and looked mild, but I wasn't sure what to expect.  Owen hadn't given us much information other than that we were going to see a sinkhole, and he thought it would be a good thing to do with Beep. 

Descending into the Devil's Millhopper?  With my baby?  If I were a little less trusting, or a little more paranoid, I might have thought he really hasn't forgiven me for being his dorky little sister and taking away his only child-ness and now he wants to get rid of me. 



From this photo you can clearly see it was spooky and I had reason to be afraid.

Sheer terror written all over this situation.

Neurotic meanderings aside, the trees were amazingly tall and dripping with silver moss.

We started climbing down a wooden stairway.  All around us, small trickles of water appeared from nowhere, flowed together, and leapt and ran down the sides of the wide bowl we climbed down.
Flight after flight, switchbacks of stairs took us down a steep angle until the tree canopy was high above us.  Green light filtered down through the leaves and the air thickened with humidity. 

The steeply angled ground was carpeted with huge ferns.

More than 100 feet below, near the bottom we paused for a photo op.  Everywhere, the sides of the earth were running with water, and the sound of running water surrounded us.

As we approached the bottom of the hole, I expected to see a river, a small lake, a waterfall, or something.  Instead, there was just this:

That's it.  A few tiny rivulets of water.  No more than would run across our lawn during a good rain. 

Many thousands of gallons of water were running down the hill in every direction, leaping out of the pores in the limestone earth. 

And it went... away.  There were no swirls or gurgles, and hardly even a puddle.

Owen told us it was disappearing into the porous limestone ground and then joining an underground body of water.  No matter how fast the flow, he'd never seen it really collect at the bottom. 

Hmmmm....  It did seem kinda creepy and suspicious.  And more than a little amazing.  It required some pondering.

After a while spent at the bottom of the sinkhole we wheezed climbed our way back up the stairs, ascending past the falling water, leaving the thick ferns behind, and eventually reaching level ground again.

Beep wasn't too impressed with the depth of the sinkhole or the disappearing water, but she loved climbing up and down the stairs.  Once topside again she really appreciated the acorns on the path. 

Ball!  She cried, over and over.  She zigged and zagged her way down the path, chasing first one acorn and then another.  Wrapping her little fingers around the hard little nuts, she would occasionally hand Uncle Owen one, only to reconsider and snatch it back.

With her hands full, she was happy. 

If Beep remembers anything amazing about the Devil's Millhopper, it won't be the long descent, the prehistoric ferns, the green sunlight or the disappearing water.  She'll remember the acorns. 


  1. I won't lie that looks like a lot, [but also a lot of climbing].

  2. Seeing my son with his niece reminded me of a wonderful photo I have somewhere of Owen sitting on his Uncle Dick's casted arm with the other casted arm safely holding him in. Sweet memories!


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