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It’s WATER TRAIL WEDNESDAY! Time for GRN’s Water Trail Tidbit of the Week ~ The National Water Trails System is a distinctive national network of exemplary water trails that are cooperatively supported and sustained. They have been established to protect and restore America’s rivers, shorelines, and waterways and conserve natural areas along waterways as well as increase access to outdoor recreation on shorelines and waterways. http://www.nps.gov/WaterTrails/

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It’s TIP TOP TUESDAY! Time for Georgia River Network’s Tip of the Week~What footwear do you choose when you go kayaking or canoeing? Check out this article for some tips! http://www.canoekayak.com/start-paddling/what_to_wear/#bVIf4vPfvorIUPTu.97

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Ramey and Jessa

Ramsey Cook and Jessa Goldman stroke down the Etowah River in Forsyth County.

I expected this year’s edition of Paddle Georgia to be something of a bittersweet ride through time. Fifteen years earlier, I spent a month traveling the Etowah’s length with my three-year-old daughter, Ramsey and her mother.

I knew I would reminisce about the sandbars where we played and the islands where we camped…hard not to when that little three-year-old just graduated from high school this spring. She and her friend, Jessa Goldman, paddled their own canoe on this Etowah journey.

I could only watch as they stroked downstream away from me–a metaphor for this final summer before both drive off to college, leaving empty nests in their wake.

Back Flip

A father-son plunge: Ken Swift and his son Maddox complete back flips off an Etowah River cliff. 

That initial journey on the Etowah–when Ramsey was just potty-trained and my hair much longer–ultimately launched me on a career of protecting the river with the Coosa River Basin Initiative, and I knew as we journeyed along its length this time, I would note the places where CRBI victories had been won as well as the places where our advocacy efforts had fallen short.

 

The personal nature of this year’s trip became even more complex when I learned at our initial launch site that my father had died in the night after a long battle with Parkinson’s disease.

My love for rivers really starts with my family. Mom and dad built their home on a lot bordered by a creek (one that I played in constantly) and I grew up rafting the Chattahoochee with family and friends.

Thankfully, in this difficult week, I had not just my family to lean on, but my Paddle Georgia family as well. Water battles, body surfing, rope swings and quiet times on moving water are good therapy for the broken-hearted. On a very personal note, I thank that Paddle Georgia family for your support and kindness during the week.

Fish Weir

The contour of a 500-to-1,000-year-old Native American fish weir marks the river in Bartow County. What will our “fish weir” be? 

This journey and the confluence of life changes–the Etowah of graduation meets the Oostanaula of death–put me to reflecting on the Coosa of legacies. The Etowah flows through thousands of years of human history and millions of years of geological time. A visit to the Indian Mounds or a passage over a 1,000-year-old fish weir is a reminder that in the annals of time our life is but the flicker of a firefly.

Does each of our flickers make any difference? Will our collective lights shine beyond our deaths? A thousand years from now, will someone paddle over our “fish weir” and ponder what our lives must have been like?

At the end of our day’s paddle into Canton, we took out at Parrie Pinyan Landing. A native of Canton, Parrie was a Paddle Georgia participant for many years before contracting cancer and dying in 2013. Before she died, she was a key witness in legal appeals brought by the Coosa River Basin Initiative in an attempt to get the developer of a massive shopping center in Canton to lessen the project’s impacts to nearby streams.

Pinyan Landing

Paddlers move boats down the ramp at Parrie Pinyan Landing in Canton. The photograph of Parrie was shot during Paddle Georgia 2006 on the Etowah River. Parrie provided key testimony in legal appeals that ultimately led to a settlement that provided funds for this new Etowah River Water Trail boat launch. 

During testimony in court, the feisty senior river advocate deftly put a young lawyer in his place. It was a delight to watch. That legal appeal ultimately ended with the developer agreeing to give $500,000 for land protection in the upper Etowah River basin and agreeing to reduce encroachment on streams by 20 percent. Included in the settlement was $25,000 to build Canton’s first boat launch on the river–Parrie Pinyan Landing. Parrie’s light still shines–not because she did anything particularly special, but merely because she got involved.

Radioactive Rapid

Josh and Anna Voss from Johns Creek shoot through Radioactive Rapid on Day 1 of Paddle Georgia. 

Parrie was on our original Paddle Georgia Etowah journey in 2006. That year, we had access to just three developed public boat launches. This year, thanks to the work of many individuals like Parrie, we utilized 13 developed public access points.

The movement to create the Etowah River Water Trail has been nothing short of remarkable. River lovers have called for access, local government leaders have responded and now a consortium of public and private entities are transforming a river. Outfitters are making money, retailers along the river’s route are selling boats in record numbers and the Etowah, we hope, is creating lasting bonds with legions of river lovers.

Terry and Meghan

Terry Pate and daughter Meghan Zimmermann surf through a shoal in Cherokee County. 

This change has been wrought by individuals like Parrie stepping up and getting involved.

My take home from a week of reflection on the river: if our lives are but the flicker of a firefly, we best make the most of them. Don’t waste a second, work hard, play hard and given the opportunity to take a stand, follow Parrie’s lead: hold your head high, put that figurative lawyer in his place, and make a difference. Hopefully, that stand will be for a river…after all, that is the ultimate goal of Paddle Georgia.

Joe Cook

Paddle Georgia Coordinator

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day Last. Twenty four miles from Neel Landing on Hwy 411 to Heritage Park in Rome Georgia, the longest route of the week. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA This is the day we have been dreading, partially because it is our longest section but mostly because it is our last day. For river rats, time spent on the water is what we live for. No matter how the long the trip, no matter the obstacles and challenges, no matter how grueling an ordeal, we are always disappointed to see the take out looming on the horizon, the low-head dam of reality.

DSC_1710Today is about two things, making the most of our last river day and considering what we will miss as we return to our lives on terra firma. Seven days sounds like a long time to spend camping and paddling but it flies by so quickly. Probably a metaphor for life in here somewhere but that requires too much thought on my part. On the last day I am wondering if I saw it all, did I participate in all the opportunities for fun and learning, did I make a difference, did I help anyone and did I help GRN in its mission.

DSC_1652I saw the river corridor and some wildlife, deer swimming the river, an otter playing, a rat snake swimming, a banded water snake, and lots of fish jumping. I saw relics of the past, Etowah mounds, confederate era bridge foundations and fishing weirs. Did the builders have any idea that these works would still be standing?

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What will I miss when I return home? I will miss the PBJs. I will miss the rocking of my boat. I will miss the rocks in my water shoes. Mostly I am going to miss the people. The GRN staff, the many volunteers but mostly, my fellow paddlers. It has been another great run.

By Georgia River Network Board Member Vincent Payne

Six Word Story Time! Playing with the popular six word novel idea, we are collecting six word stories about rivers. Post your 6 word story in the comment section on Georgia River Network’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/georgiarivernetwork This Week’s Six Word Story Stream Theme: “Canoeing”

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June 22, 2017 Euharlee, GA, Etowah River.  “It’s all good.” That’s the unofficial motto of Paddle Georgia. Has been for years. Today, we had a great day on the Etowah River, and P1160807it rained or sprinkled all day. It’s all good. We didn’t need sunscreen, didn’t sweat (much), and the day was cooler than normal. Thank you, rain. Many Native American fish weirs today, a swift jaunt around Ford Island, and we were graced by the presence of eight professionals for professionals’ day on Paddle Georgia (Helen Barnes, Bridgit Clark, Brian Gist, Jeanna Heard, Claire Horan, and Megan Mhuynh of the Southern Environmental Law Center, Mike Worley (Exec. Director of Georgia Wildlife Federation who joined us last night), and State Senator Chuck Payne from Dalton. These folks work hard to protect our rivers and their riverine environment, to preserve clean water, and to promote wise use of our natural resources.

The Adopt a Stream group from Georgia EPD taught volunteers how to do water qualityP1160798.JPG sampling, and take samples each day at streams and point source inflow points (such as industrial discharge sites) to measure the health of the river as we journey our way to Rome.  This year, they added conductivity studies—more on this is on the AAS website.  Seven school teachers earned scholarships  to spend the week learning about Project WET from Ruth Mead of the Phinizy Swamp Education Center. They’ll go back to teach their students about rivers and river systems. Many Paddle Georgia regulars got their start as a teacher on this scholarship, and now come back year after year.

P1160859.JPGOn the river we saw an osprey with a fish in its talons fly into the trees, followed closely by a bald eagle. The osprey scree’d a warning cry to its mate, who flew out to chase the eagle off (or maybe there was just one osprey who dropped the fish, but we’d like to think the osprey chicks got their fish).

Though we didn’t get the deluges they had in Atlanta and Rome, the stormy weather did cause cancellation of the street party and canoe tug of war hosted annually in Cedar P1160867Creek Outfitters’ portable pool (a wise decision, the rain didn’t break til after 8 PM). Still, most of us enjoyed fine meals and shopping in downtown Cartersville, some replenished their supplies and gear, and all experienced the offerings of a vibrant downtown district. And, the rain will increase the river’s flow tomorrow for our final 22 mile paddle into Rome. It’s all good.

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By Georgia River Network Board Member Victor Johnson

 

1.JPGOur paddlers found the morning mist and clear breathtaking chilly water on Day 5. Just like the web of life, the long jawed orb weavers produce a web so intricate and complex.  With 2000 years in the making, the Etowah River passed the Western Atlantic war bridge base, graffiti grandeur, a low head dam, and Indian mounds. Years of use by 5the Native Americans and later peoples intricately connect all of us to the river through conversations and conservation.

Peaceful birdsongs, otter sightings, dragon and damsel flies, beaver songs and turtle count games all filled our eyes and ears. Epic water fights with all winners and surfer dudes at the fish weirs. The day was also filled with river booty and special finds of 2DSC_1467bobbers, lures, sports balls and more proving that the river giveth and the river taketh away.  Whether you climbed to the top of the Indian Mound or paddled to the Plantation tour in time, new friends and memories were sure to be had by all. While the Redneck hot tub may not DSC_1486have attracted a large participation crowd, at day’s end, the talent show always provided a good laugh. You know, you always meet the nicest folks on the river.

The “No Talent Show” was actually a “Very Talented” talent show. A special thanks to all who participated. After a long hard battle, Jim Fountain and Bret Eady came out victorious in the corn hole tournament. As the light dims and the music fades, we all make our way to our tents for a night of rest so we can start again tomorrow.

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Disclaimer: Any and all rights and privileges has been preserved in the making of this blog. No names have been used in this blog to protect the privacy of those actually being discussed or photographed. All rights reserved. No animals or river creatures were harmed or abused during the duration of this paddle. Any action regarding this paddle will be tried before the Paddle Georgia court in the jurisdiction of the State of Georgia.

By Georgia River Network Board Member Terry Pate and Paddle Georgia Enthusiast Tammy Griffin

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