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Archive for June, 2012

Our last day of Paddle Georgia brought with it a mixed bag of emotions.  Folks were excited to have made it this far and accomplished so much, but sad that it would all be over soon. Most folks were well rested given the fact that the Altamaha Regional Park was more than we could have asked for in a campground. Luxurious showers, awesome pavilion and interpretive boardwalk, mary-go-round for the kiddies, and an old timey general store with delectable ice cream.

The expression goes that ”Time and Tide waits for NO man’, and it was paddlers that had to wait to get on the river our last day of Paddle Georgia due to the tides- Needless to say everyone lined up to hit the water given they couldn’t shove off until almost 10 AM…..

The Girl Scouts showed off the big muscles they had developed over the past week and were giddy with excitement!

Project Wet trainer Ruth Mead gave a bonus topography lesson on the boardwalk – which was a big hit!

The 13 mile journey ahead was one of the most captivating of the entire trip with the dramatic change in landscape- from giant cypress draped in Spanish moss to Spartina grass marshes rooted in thick mud which housed, among many other critters, millions of  shy fiddler crabs. A labyrinth of Alligator alley’s also carved their way through the mud banks.

Many beautiful flowers were in bloom and snags could be seen as far as the eye could see.   Altamaha Waterfowl Area signs could be seen along the riverbank, which was encouraging considering the fact that this seemed to be an ideal habitat for such a wide variety of bird species. We were tickled to spot an Osprey parent feeding its young chicks in its huge nest.  Quite a sight to behold!

As we drifted into Darien, the shrimp boats lined the docks and our fellow Paddle Georgians cheered the remaining paddlers as they crossed the finish line.

Tears of joy filled paddler’s eyes and exclamations of ‘hallelujah’ and ‘we made it’  could be seen and heard!

Amazing moments that will be forever remembered and cherished!

A live band and $1 beers were awaiting us on the dock as well as an alligator! I was so excited to finally see one as it was the mascot of Paddle Georgia 2012 and only one person had seen a live gator on the entire trip- and it was a baby.

Then we feasted!!! Gary & Bubba Poppell  cooked up 900 lbs of low country broil- all local seafood! They totally out did themselves.

Paddle Georgia 2012 was a tremendous success and a journey that will stay forever in our hearts. The efforts of all 350 + paddlers  has raised the level of awareness of the Altamaha and the resources, recreational opportunities, and beauty it provides to countless communities throughout the state and beyond.  Everyone truly carried the spirit of the mighty river with them down our 105 mile journey.

Until next year!

~~~Keep on rollin’ on the river~~~

Gwyneth Moody

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We arrived at Paradise Park on day 6 greeted by a deluxe porta-potty with an artistic sign courtesy of Barbara Crawford of CRBI. April Ingle served her diligent post checking  off each paddler putting on the river with a gracious smile and well wishes.

We were excited to go back downstream the mile we ‘humped’ up the previous afternoon because it was some of the most interesting and beautiful scenery we had seen so far.

The historical gypsy Floathouses stood to remind us of the fabric of culture across the South in the early to mid 1900’s and we were mesmerized by the majestic Ogeechee Lime trees twisted and gnarled like they could be the home of a community of a gnomes and fairies.

The Girl Scouts were rejuvenated and ready for the 17 mile paddle ahead…

Enthusiasm could be seen at every bend in the river.

Napping and dazed meditative drifting was also a common sight  as folks recuperated from the previous day and soaked in the glorious sunshine and tasty breeze.

There was a treasure of visual nature ‘candy’ along the river: Swallowtails flew over head catching thermals and swooping down to catch dragonflies;  teeny tiny toad hid in pools of water collected on sandbars; a ginormous grasshopper jumped on a paddlers boat for a ride; the fragile molt of a crab recently exited was found camouflaged on the sand; and the prehistoric boney head of a Sturgeon washed upon a muddy bank, and delicate purple flowers were set amongst a backdrop of vibrant green vegetation.

Georgia River Network staff unloaded and set up at Altamaha Regional Park during the day greeting arriving paddlers and answering the never-ending plethora of interesting questions asked.

Everyone settled nicely into camp and are sad that tomorrow is our last day on the little Amazon.

See y’all tomorrow!

Gwyneth Moody

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The day began bright eyed and bushy tailed- as we were bused to the Upper Wayne County ‘Tar’ Landing- the site of Georgia’s first commercial turpentine mill – used for water proofing and sealing wooden ships. 

Some folks had more finesse than others getting their boats to the water as demonstrated by these pumped up super paddlers.

Mist still glistened off the river in the clean fresh morning air- as if Puff the Magic Dragon’s layer might be just around the next bend.

Parrie Pinyan gave thanks and Paddle Georgia stories from the past beneath a Willow Wonderland.

The Girls Scouts looked fabulous out on the water- singing songs, solving riddles, and discovering wildlife they had never seen before.  Thus far they have spotted a Bald Eagle,  turtles, tadpoles, and lots of jumping fish...No alligators,yet.

Jesslyn and Brian had a special princess palace for little Odessa…. Pretty adorable!

We felt the love from all over Wayne County- even folks that live along the river made signs to welcome Paddle Georgians! Nell Tyre explained that the largest catfish in Georgia was caught  right out in front of her house!

An awesome Tupelo tree cave was enjoyed by many a passerby, including Charlie White and Amy Larrimore – a hollow no doubt resided in by bats and chimney swifts at night.

Butterflies and dragonflies  fluttered and zipped past, occasionally taking a perch on ones paddle. A shell (exoskeleton) of a dragonfly nymph was found and almost eaten as a snack by Beverly Benfield.

In the meantime, when asked if he had seen any mussels,

Robert Benfield said yes, of course… look at these!

Paddlers weren’t the only ones catching some rays on the river…

This little guy was a cutie pie!

There were even folks that took their meditation class very seriously class and even practiced on the river~

A peaceful and exciting day was had by all- Rollin down the river’!

Rhonda Martin was beyond excited when her friends and family surprised her with a lovely cake for her Birthday!

Tomorrow will be our longest day-a whopping 22 miles- and everyone seems conditioned and ready for another amazing day on the mighty Altamaha.

Gwyneth Moody

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Day 3 brought on the first moving day and thus the frenzy ensued early,

but what a nice delight to find veteran Paddle Georgian Cody Denson at the Stanfield Landing put- in with a grin and a helping hand….

Terry from Mars (at least that’s what his shirt claimed the first day) brought along his duck figure-head who will attend every Paddle Georgia trip till ducky death do them part.

Alexis Chase, Alison Amyxx, and Drew Handverge from Georgia Interfaith Power and Light joined us for Professional’s Day as well as lobbyist Jill Johnson of Georgia Conservations Voters, GA Water Coalition, and Solar Energy, and Altamaha Riverkeeper’s Gabe Haman and Andrew Hemp.

A large group of paddlers participated in Trash Day. Unlike the Oconee river on Paddle Georgia 2011- the amount of trash found along this stretch was next to none. In fact, only one single tire was collected!

Bonny Putney was all smiles:)

Joe Cook did his best to squirt every passing paddler, but Tom Sewell managed to cruise by unscathed on his stand up paddle board…

A few adventurous folks paddled up 5 Mile Creek – into the shady Big Hammock Wildlife Management Area.

A wood duck nest box was spotted high up above the buttresses of a cypress tree.

The never-ending  choice of gorgeous white sandy beaches were a perfect spot for a midday lunch break and cool down in the deep swift current.

These two little ladies had no complaints- one a veteran of 6 Paddle Georgia’s and the other a newby- What a FUN way to spend your summer break !

Laid-back right up until the last drop of another awesome day on the Altamaha!

And everyone seemed to settle in nicely at our new Paddle Georgia Tent City home at Wayne County High school.

Can’t wait until tomorrow!

Gwyneth Moody

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Day 2 on Paddle Georgia 2012- and nothing but blue skies and another gorgeous day of temps in the low 80’s awaiting us… 

With a 12 mile paddle ahead, we couln’t wait to get our feet wet on the mighty Altamaha!

Soon after we ‘set’ paddle we came upon the Pirates- who told many a tale of  previous Paddle Georgia escapades- a truly motley crew with their flags and fish hooks!

It is awe-inspiring how the Altamah is so reminiscent of  the Amazon jungle in South America. The towering magestic cypress with giant knees jutting from the water, tupelo that line the banks and lush black willow harbouring such a plethera of wildlife.

 

 

 

Georgia Adopt-A-Stream gave water quality testing workshops on sandbars throughout the day- bonding in more ways than just chemically:)

 

 

 

 

GA Adopt A Stream instructors seemed to always be bursting with knowledge as well as excitement and enthusiasm- especially our dearest Ruth Mead!

Although folks paddled hard all day- they also played hard- blasting eachother with water guns –  a true WATER WAR!

 And then there were those who relaxed even harder!

Unfortunately the Ohoopee river was taken off our itinerary for this Paddle Georgia, but that didn’t stop us from taking a jaunt up its swift flowing tannin rich waters for a cool dip at the culmination of our days journey…

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another magical day on the enchanted Altamaha with smiles all around!

Gwyneth Moody

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And we’re off . . .

After a restless night of anticipation we hopped aboard the Bluebird school buses and were whizzed to Deen’s Landing – a good 30 minute drive through Vidalia Onion country.

The mighty Altamah rolled by, glistening in the early morning sun as fish leaped from the water  making bedazzling spashes.

Our vessels lined the shore like a whimsical rainbow- complimeting  Beverly Brown’s tye-dye’d exuberance.

Excitement electrified the air as newbies and veterans alike readied themselves for the days journey.

Stickers on the sides of canoes announced Paddle Georgia veterans and their  years of attendance…

While others adorned their boats with  figure heads, river guardians, and bait for alligators. 

The loud hum of Nuclear Plant Hatch penetrated mile 2 of our journey and the steam shrouded towers loomed overhead- dwarfing the kayakers passing by.

From guided nature hikes in the Nature Conservancy’s Moody Forest Natural Area, to fishing, digging for mussels, and swinging from rope swings EVERYONE seemed to have had an amazing first day on the lovely Altamaha river….

Looking forward to more adventuring tomorrow! Stay tuned…

Gwyneth Moody

p.s. Please check out our Virtual Paddle Georgia 2012 for more photos: http://garivers.org/#virtualpaddlegeorgia2012

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Tattnall County shows the love!

Boxes filled every corner of the Georgia Network office with Paddle Georgia’ accoutrements- it was truly bursting at the seams!

We were ready for lift off and away we flew down to the lovely city of Reidsville, GA whereTattnallCountyawaited us with open hearts!

With an amazing forecast for the week ahead, the first to take to the water were those who registered for the Paddle Workshop at Altamaha Gordonia State park.

Jeff and  Baker did an outstanding job and everyone reported an extra boost of confidence and skill upon questioning.

Meanwhile back at the Tattnall County Highschool, preparations for the arrival and registration of more than 350Paddle Georgia participants were underway!

We had tons of help from volunteers as well as help from some strong and kind Tattnall County Highschool students.

Creativity overfload at the name tag making station…Keith and Shirl especially outdid themselves!

Cafe Campesino rocked out fresh fruit smoothies and delicious fair trade coffee delights.

Louiseville Middle School even designed their own ‘Altamaha to Darien or Bust’ – Paddle GA 2012 T-shirts- How awesome is that!

And then to top it all off Outside Word donated $11,000 (money donated to them by Patagonia) to Georgia River Network!  What a great start to Paddle Georgia 2012!

Can’t wait to get on the river tomorrow!

Gwyneth Moody

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