Recently I traveled back to Florida to visit my family. It has been over a year since I've seen my mother and brothers and sisters. When I told my aunt and uncle my travel dates, they reminded me that I fly in on the weekend they have their annual camping trip to Ginnie Springs. This would be their 11th year doing the trip and I had yet to join them on the trip, so I was stoked to be able to be apart of it this year.
Ginnie Springs is located in Central Florida near Gainesville. And it is best known for its crystal clear waters and underwater cave system. This cave system is part of Florida's famous underground aquifer. 55 million years ago, where Florida is today, was filled with coral and sea life. Over time all that sea life calcified in to porous rock, and then was covered by sand and clay due to erosion of the Appalachian Mountains. This left a perfect environment for the calcified porous rock to hold and retain fresh water. The slight acidity of the rainwater helped carve out amazing underground limestone waterways and caves.
Florida's aquifer underlies the entire state and in numerous locations there are springs, where the underground freshwater is driven to the surface. Ginnie Springs is one of those locations, and is arguably the most famous spring in all of Florida. Tons of scuba divers frequent the springs, especially to check out Devil's Spring System. There are three springs divers can explore, and the views from each are described as breathtaking. The water is so clear that even at the bottom of the cave system, you can look up and see the floaters floating above and even count the leaves on the trees.
The trip was a lot of fun with my aunt, uncle, and some friends. I don't really remember looking down into these cave systems, but I do remember seeing a lot of scuba divers below our floats. The water was super clear and cold in the springs, but once you floated out of them into the Santa Fe River the water became murky and warm. You're probably wondering why I cant remember, but if you look at the photo below you'll understand. It was nonstop party the whole weekend. Unfortunately, a lot of the time, I was in a state that did not boost my memory. We floated the whole system a few times over the two days we were there, but most of the floats consisted of me wrestling with my Shamu float or napping on my big watermelon float. And I also missed a float with the group because I was pASSed out on this comfortable chair at our campsite.
Overall the experience was amazing! Being a part of my aunt and uncle's decade long tradition with their friends and family was very exciting. But next time I go back I'll have to spend more time exploring the geology of the springs with some snorkel gear. If you ever find yourself in Florida, go explore Ginnie Springs or any of the other springs in the surrounding area. They're beautiful, and with the exception of fossils, the springs are my favorite geological oddity of Florida #doitfhrtheGRAM