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Submit a Photo for this months PHOTO SHOWCASE and STAFF PICK!

This month’s topic is:

Funniest Paddling Photo

Paddling is so much fun and sometimes you can catch people acting pretty silly… Help others see the funny side of paddling by submitting a photo for our photo showcase and staff pick!

Don’t miss the previous photo showcases and staff pick winners and send your photo entry for August to Gwyneth@garivers.org

Also be sure to check out July’s showcase and winning photo for “Best Paddle Georgia 2013 Photo“:

July Photo showcase

GRN banner2013 Monthly Photo Showcase and GRN Staff Pick of the Month

We want to give a BIG high five to Cindy Leighton, who submitted the winning Staff Pick photo of July’s Showcase

Best Paddle Georgia 2013 Photo

 Cindy Leighton

‘Mysteries Await’

Check out the slide show below to see all of the amazing photos submitted!

July Photo showcase

Make sure to get those creative juices flowing for August’s Topic:

Funniest Paddling Photo

So this is the scoop, each month we have a different theme and invite you to send us a photo that you think best represents the topic of the month.

We will showcase everyone’s photos on our website and social media and one photo per month will receive the illustrious title of ‘GRN Staff Pick of the Month’ and the chosen photo’s author will receive a surprise token of gratitude.

We will accept photo entries up until the third week of each month and announce the GRN staff pick and showcase all photo submissions the last week of each month. Submit your August’s photo entry NOW to Gwyneth@garivers.org

August‘s theme:

Funniest Paddling Photo

Check out the 2013 Monthly Themes:

Looking forward to seeing your AMAZING photos!
Mary and Kit Flamingo Flotilla
Want to see more photos from Paddle Georgia 2013?
Georgia River Network
126 South Milledge Ave. Suite E3, Athens, GA 30605
706-549-4508
http://www.garivers.org
Become a Member Today –
Join
A natural limestone bridge frames Ramsey Cook as she paddles on the Flint River near Albany.

A natural limestone bridge frames Ramsey Cook as she paddles on the Flint River near Albany.

Another Paddle Georgia is in the books. This year more than 370 people participated, covering 106 miles of the Flint River over seven days, and, as always, having one great time.

I can’t remember when a river left me so astounded. The Paddle Georgia Navy has now covered more than 900 miles of Georgia rivers. In scouting for these various trips, the Georgia River Network staff has logged at least another 2000 miles. With all these miles under our belts, you’d think you’ve seen it all, but on the Flint each day held new surprises–including surprises I have never before experienced on a river–hummingbirds alighting on hands, bats swimming across the river, barred owls posing in broad daylight, bone-numbingly cold blue springs  and unparralled boat play never before witnessed at Paddle Georgia.

Someone asked me during this journey if after nine years the routine had gotten stale (you’ve seen one river, you’ve seen them all); I don’t think that is possible. In Georgia, we’re blessed with more than 70,000 miles of river and streams. In nine years, we’ve barely scratched the surface of all there is to explore.

The Flint made that abundantly clear. I was so astounded I shot more than 2700 photos during the week. Below are a few…with comments.

HUMMINGBIRD

HummingbirdIt’s well known that hummingbirds are attracted to all things red. Who’d a thought they would be attracted to red Paddle Georgia food braclets. While standing in my canoe to stretch my legs, one zoomed up to me, found a perch on my wrist and pecked fruitlessly at the rubber wrist band. It let out a gentle “tweak” of complaint, waited longer for the nectar to rise, and then, growing impatient, whisked off to find a perch on Chris Lewis’s life jacket (to inspect an orange whistle) and finally to Gwyneth Moody’s arm for a second try at the wrist bands. The only other wild bird I’ve ever have land on me is a Canada jay–notoriusly bold camp robbers of New England’s mountain peaks. This Flint River hummer left me drop jawed–at its beauty, gracefulness and boldness. Incredbile little creatures, they weigh an eighth of an ounce and fly at speeds of more than 60 miles per hour.

BANDED WATER SNAKE

Snake Eating Fish Every year on Paddle Georgia, someone encounters a water snake chowing down on a fish, and though it is common sight, it never ceases to entertain. It is the wildlife equivalent of our hot dog eating contests. How does such a small animal devour something four times its girth? Ramsey, Jessa Goldman and I had front row seats to the “circle of life.” We watched as the snake pulled the thrashing fish to shore and slowly subdued it, working its mouth from a firm grip in the catfish’s flank around to its face where it slowly ingested it. Only the threat of the sweep boat prevented us from seeing the fish’s complete demise.

BARRED OWL

Barred OwlThe father and daughter team of George Gibson and Kim Bailey spotted it first. Consummate naturalists, the canoeing tandem spotted a mature barred owl perched in a stunted tree on a island at river’s edge. We caught the eddy at the end of the island to take a look, and found not only the mature owl, but a pair of juveniles–and juveniles that seemed not particularly concerned with our presence. We spent the next several minutes moving closer until the owl was perched in a tree right above us. I have heard their calls at night: “Who? Who cooks for you?” but never had such a close encounter during daylight hours.

WILSON BLUE SPRING

Wilson Blue SpringDuring my two previous visits to this well-known swimming hole, the water was either too low or too high. This time is was just right. We paddled up the surging spring run into a blue hole oasis–the water was teeth-chattering cold, clear and reflecting the green leaf canopy that guarded it. A few minutes in that water and my body temperature didn’t rise to normal South Georgia summer time levels until we were well on our way back to camp on the bus. Kim Bailey, Keith Parsons, my daughter Ramsey and I each took turns jumping from the crotch of a spring-side tree into the hole. Life don’t get much better.

SWIMMING BATS

Swimming BatYes, swimming bats. Nearing Goat Island and Georgia Power’s Plant Mitchell, we spotted something scurrying across the surface of the water–a scurry I’d never seen before and will likely never see again. Bats do swim and we have the photographic proof. Our attempts to “help” it across the river, I believe, made its crossing even more harrowing, but eventually it reached the eastern shore and climbed upon a cypress knee. “Google” swimming bats and you’ll get the question: “Do you mean swimming baths?” But, in fact, swimming bats are well documented and they do it surprisingly well–flapping their wings like Michael Phelps doing the butterfly. Those that know bats say that it is not a common behavior and is usually performed under stress, though there are some bats in South America that feed on fish. The take home lesson from this encounter–no matter how long we might spend in the woods or on rivers, we are bound to discover something new on any given journey. There is still so much we don’t know about this world.

FOSSILS

FossilsOn day six of the journey a band of teenage explorers and I stopped on an island adjacent to some shoals in seach of the illusive and federally protected purple bankclimber mussel. I’d been told this might be a place to look, and being a lover of mussels, I was determined to find one of these thick-shelled behemoths of the mussel world. We found no purple bankclimbers, but turn a passel of inquistive youth loose on a wild island and you’ll turn up something. A thorough exploration of the spit of land turned up three turtle eggs, a cold-water spring, a crayfish, sandshell mussels and a mother lode of fossils. Charlie White found the first one, and before we were done, we all had souvenirs and reminders that our lives on this planet are but a blink of an eye in geological time. The fossilized remains that we held in our hands were remnants of a time when present day South Georgia was covered by the sea…a time tens of millions of years ago. On this day, the Flint made me feel very small….and very blessed.

WESTRICK SPRING

Westrick SpringIn preparation for each Paddle Georgia, I pour over maps, local histories, previously published guides, internet references and even pick the brains of locals familiar with the river. These collected notes go on the daily maps. When I’m done, I like to think I’ve captured everything worth seeing along the river. Westrick Spring escaped me. I’d noted it on my planning maps, but never bothered to paddle up the spring run and explore it. Thankfully, the Georgia Adopt-A-Stream team and others found it and pointed others up its path. At the end of that path was perhaps the biggest surprise of the trip–a massive, crystal clear blue hole, teaming with fish and reminiscent of a tropical paradise. Paddle Georgia participants have traversed more than 900 miles of this state’s watery trails, and never had we witnessed water this pristime and breathtakingly beautfiul.

BOAT PLAY

Boat PlaySometimes its not nature that surprises you; its our natural capacity for play. GRN Development Director Davin Welter and his band of youth (including Hayden Lanzilotta) took boat play to new heights. Borrowing from the phone booth stuffing stunts of the 1950s, this group took it upon themselves to see how many people could fit on a kayak before sinking the vessel. When that fun wore old, they turned the boats into balance beams and paddle-powered water skis.

CAMILLA MASQUERADE

Camilla MasqueradeThe Mitchell County-CamillaChamber of Commerce rolled out the red carpet for us with a great street party behind the historic Mitchell County Courthouse. During Reconstruction, this town was the site of the “Camilla Masacre” in which 13 “freedmen” were killed by the county sheriff and a posse of angry whites. But when Paddle Georgia descended on Camilla, blacks and whites ate, drank, danced and reveled together. The Flint runs essentially the same course as it did in 1868 at the time of the masacre; the course of Flint River communities has changed siginificantly.

TAKING THE PLUNGE

Taking the PlungeNo Paddle Georgia would be complete without a leap from a high place into the river. The Flint, lined with limestone bluffs, offered up appropriate plunge holes in abundance. I hazard a guess that there is little else that can make parents feel like kids again better than a jump from a cliff. Daniela Dilorio and her sons Evan and Marco Newman took the plunge together.

LIGHTS OUT: NEVER

Lights Out: NeverThe GRN staff goes to great lengths to insure that every “i” is dotted and every “t” is crossed when it comes to campsite accomodations. But this attention to details is no match for “state-of-the-art” school buildings with computer-programmed lighting systems. Even a late night visit by the school’s facility manager could not dim the lights in the home of the Bearcats. For this we apologize.

THE GRAND FINALE

The Grand FinaleThe Bainbridge Boat Basin was our final destination for the week. There we celebrated what is arguably our best Paddle Georgia ever–the largest with more than 370 people participating and the most successful with more than $40,000 raised through the Canoe-a-thon. After a fish fry feast provided by Flint Riverkeeper, we said our goodbyes. The end is always bittersweet; it is hard to say good bye to a river and the companionship and comaraderie that forms during the week. Our hope is that each participant will carry a love for rivers back home and start a love affair with a stream in their backyard. Thus, the journey never ends. Dee Stone, Mike McCarthy, Bonny Putney and Dan Jones celebrate at river’s end.

THE AFTERMATH

The Aftermath106 miles, 7 days, 1 great time…and lots of exhausted paddlers and GRN staff–including Mary Alexander, Jesslyn Shields, Chris Manganiello, Debra Tate and Dana Skelton. THANKS FOR MAKING PADDLE GEORGIA 2013 A JOURNEY TO REMEMBER!

Click here to see some additional photos from Paddle Georgia on my Flicker site. 

Joe Cook

June 26, 2013

The last day of Paddle Georgia has finally arrived and paddlers – although a bit P1010890rugged- still had the same spunk and excitement as the first day, P1010900playing, lounging, and cruising along still meeting new people and catching up with paddlers from years past.P1020088

The geology of the river, with the underlying Floridan aquifer, bubbling springs, and towering  cliff banks with hidden fossils of creatures from the Oligocene epoch 35 million years ago and the importance of this resource for water supply, never ceased to amaze paddlers.

Big Slough was an enchanting side trip from the main stem of the Flint- with aquatic plants we had not seen up until now- truly a wetland sanctuary!  And even P1020046the exotic and invasive Hydrilla covering the stream bed with its green fuzzy alien tentacles was a beautiful sight.

The river was lined with dead trees standing tall like telephone poles- which had giant fist sized holes providing housing for Pileated Woodpeckers, Great Crested Flycatchers, Wood Ducks just to name a few….P1020024

P1010949It seemed that around every bend a paddler had found a cozy spot in the shade to take a snooze in their boat-drifting, and bobbing to the rhythm of the river.

We are so proud of the Camp Horizon kids for their positive attitudes and perseverance. Such a strong and inquisitive group – and so much fun to hang out with!P1020041

It was touching to see so many families out on the river together. Steve and Elliot Cousins are such a awesome father/son duo, who have been attending Paddle Georgia for many years, and as Elliot said “It’s a great way to spend quality time together, especially since Paddle Georgia always occurs on Father’s Day”.P1010956

Folks pulled into the last Take-Out with grins from ear to ear and paddles raised high! 106 Georgia river miles under their belt with fantastic stories of their adventures to bring home to family and friends.

P1020098Parrie Pinya, an avid paddler and veteran Paddle Georgian passed onto the great spirits earlier this year and it was her wish to have her ashes spread into the rivers of Georgia she loved so dearly. Needless to say it was a great honor and we took her ashes with us on our entire Paddle Georgia journey and held a Memorial ceremony, releasing her into the beautiful current of the Flint river.P1020183

This has been such a magical experience for us all and we really look forward to seeing everyone next year on the Chattahoochee for Paddle Georgia 2014.

Keep on rollin’ down the river!

Gwyneth Moody

The 6th day of Paddle Georgia has finally arrived and paddlers really have become P1010798true “river rats” with theirP1010660 sun tans/burns- giddy attitudes and desire to linger as long as possible enjoying the river.

It seems that every day people come off the river exclaiming it was their favorite day yet – and today was no exception.

P1010626Kids played incessantly, discovering mussels, snails, and flint in the sand between their toes as well as a few awesome rope swings to jump from on the limestone cliffs.

Paddle Georgians love to have their boats decorated with a mascot every year rangP1010560ing from a flock of flamingos and Hippo’s to a Re-Egret, a Happy Turtle, and a  Recycled TraP1010670sh Dude. Gotta love the creativity!

The Camp Horizon youth ‘made like a caterpillar’ and rolled down a giant sand dune- screaming and hooting for joy the entire way down.

Those with their hearts set on catching fish were not disappointed- as George Gibson a first time paddle Georgian caught 3 Shoal Bass over a 15 minutes period.photo

P1010714Bobby Marie recounted his incredible tale of a 3 foot Gar jumping out of the river into his boat- and flipping him over after giving him a major arm abrasion. P1010563Although this sounds a bit “fishy” it was verified by 2 eye witnesses who saw the incident in its entirety and were completely awe-struck. So amazing and only on Paddle Georgia!

The Bovine Spring gurgled away and paddlers whipped out their snorkels to get an underwater look at the spring water spewing forth from the depths below.P1010790

The most magical spring we have encountered thus far was Westrick Spring about a mile from the take-out. Although hidden within the Cypress forest, once discovered it was an oasis of crystal blue water – so clear you could see to depths of 20 feet.P1010862!

The night ended with the best talent in Georgia showing off their smooth moves, great rhythms, and beautiful poetry and voices.

It was truly a magical day and we are so sad that tomorrow is the last.

Keep on rollin’ down the river…

Gwyneth Moody

We could not have asked for a more beautiful day on the river with gorgeous P1010192blue skies, intermittent puffy clouds, and the perfect cool breeze.

Upon arriving at the Put-In, our attention was quickly drawn to a display by the Department of Natural P1010200Resources who were giving awe-inspiring information about the fascinating fishes and mussels that live in the Flint, which they had seined from the river the pP1010266revious evening.P1010406

Adopt A Stream and the Environmental Protection Division have been collecting water quality data at every tributary and spring entering the main channel and are now up to a total of 80 sites sampled! We are so grateful to have such an awesome team  involved with Paddle Georgia and to learn about the water quality of the river in which we swim and fish.P1010496P1010473

We were greeted by staff of the Jones Ecological Research Center along the way. A few staff had just gathered mussels and other organisms from the river bottom and were still in their wetsuits, while others gave educational tours and presentations about the Longleaf pine ecosystem, essential to the survival of many species of wildlife, such as the Gopher tortoise and Red-Cockaded woodpecker.P1010402

The trees on this section were exceptionally large and majestic, towering over you like giant gnomes with pointy hats.P1010410

The morning forays of raccoon, mink and deer were imprinted in the muddy riverbank along with the yummy clams they had pried open for a delicious snack.

After frolicking in the shoals and whirlpools and exploring the many islands formed from the dredging that occurred by the Army P1010234Corp in the early 1800’s to facilitate steamboat passage, we reached the cool, clear, and tannin rich Ichawaynochoway Creek- which almost looked like red tea.

The evening was filled with laughter and cheers of joy as paddlers teamed up to play the game shows ‘Family Feud & Paddle Wet’ Paddle Georgia style.

Excited about boppin’ in blue holes tomorrow!

Keep on rollin’ down the river….

Gwyneth MoodyP1010505

We have officially reached the half-way point of Paddle Georgia 2013 with 3 DSC_6363days of awesome paddling behind us and 3 more ahead. Everyone really enjoyed their stay at Chehaw with their friendly staff, beautiful grounds and comfortable facilities and we were all sad to leave, but excited about the new digs in Camilla.

P1010089

Although everyone seemed to cringe at the mention of a 21 mile paddle – the current was the fastest we’ve had yet and we scooted swiftly along.P1000943

P1000998Playful paddlers, as always we encountered hoola hooping in the morning and bubbles in the afternoon.P1010050

Red Tailed Hawks, Belted P1000653Kingfisher, Bob Whites, Pileated woodpeckers, and Green Heron could be heard and occasionally seen through the canopy that shrouded the winding river.P1010062

The limestone caves along this stretch were beautiful and mysterious with their tight crevices and dangling ferns that formed curtains on the rock walls surrounding the cave mouth.

Twisted, gnarly roots of Sycamore and Cypress trees reached out like fingers and hands holding back the river bank, their knees jutting up out of the water resembling mud castles at the beach.P1000972

And even with the usual swimming, lounging, and jumping from rope swings paddlers completed the trip in record time, and were shuttled to our new home of Mitchell County High School.

And what a better way to end the day than with an awesome street party in Camilla!P1010115 It was great to see everyone boogying down and enjoying themselves so immensely.

Looking forward to another day in South Georgia paradise tomorrow!

Keep on rollin’ down the river,

Gwyneth Moody

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