Blog California

When life hands you sinkholes, make hiking trails

September 30, 2021

A few years ago, I read a story about this guy who was unwinding at home one evening when a sinkhole suddenly opened up under his living room and swallowed up half his house. And him.

Ever since then, I have had an irrational fear of sinkholes.

Here is a random sinkhole eating a freeway in Ecuador. Sinkholes are fun!
Photo by Theofilos Toulkeridis et al licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported.

The house in the story was probably built over an old gold mine, which is extra super terrifying since I, too, live in Gold Country, and probably every house in my town including mine was built over an old gold mine. I will not get too into how much time I’ve spent convincing myself that something similar would never happen here since it was all hard rock mining in this area, and please if you believe otherwise do not pop into my comments and say so because this is how I have been able to avoid constant irrational panic for the last 15 years.

Also no one ever “pops into” my comments lol.

Grass Valley did have a sinkhole of its own, though. This was back in the early weeks of 2017, right as the last drought was coming to an end and there was an abnormal amount of rain. The sinkhole swallowed up the parking lot behind a used car dealership and when it was done doing its sinkhole thing it was 80 feet wide, 80 feet long, and seven stories deep. 

Crews figured that the sinkhole happened because of a culvert failure (which further supports my fantasy that it could never happen at my house, thankyouverymuch) although there were a lot of people in town making noise that it was somehow mining related.

Today, the Grass Valley sinkhole is a hiking trail. And let me say, there’s nothing like conquering your irrational fear of sinkholes by going for a hike in a literal sinkhole.

Once a sinkhole, now a nice walk on a Sunday afternoon.

Well, not really. I’m still irrationally afraid of sinkholes. But I do think this is a great example of the old adage, when life hands you sinkholes, make hiking trails.