Archive for November, 2012

Morning on the lower Flint as it spreads and slows above Bainbridge and Lake Seminole.


Read Joe Cook’s blog about the Flint River below!

I paddled 12 in 2012! And, I have the schizophrenic and drought-addled Ogeechee to thank for it.

When last we left this blog page, we were celebrating the close of Paddle Georgia 2012 on the Altamaha and planning for the Ogeechee in 2013…then we paddled the Ogeechee in the throes of a drought. 50 miles of pulling boats over strainers and walking them through shallow braided channels left us wondering whether a seven-day trip on the Ogeechee was feasible. Undaunted, we set out to scout Ogeechee routes utilizing more of the coast’s tidal rivers and intercoastal waterway. Across a 40-mile course from near the mouth of the Ogeechee, we paddled the Little Ogeechee, Vernon, Burnside, Moon, Skidaway and Wilmington rivers (seven rivers in three days!). But, alas, the monotony of the marshes (though they are beautiful) and the relative lack of access to “play places” and pit stops left us doubting that an extended trip on the intercoastal waterway would be suitable for 300-plus Paddle Georgians. So, we punted to the west and landed on the Lower Flint where I found myself for five days during the Thanksgiving holiday week, scouting a 108-mile course from Lake Blackshear to Bainbridge. For the record, the Flint was my 16th river in 2012!

And, for the record, the lower Flint is now the official route for Paddle Georgia 2013.

A bald eagle launches from a riverside perch in Worth County.

I ventured down to South Georgia expecting a typical Coastal Plain river–winding oxbows, expansive sandbars and lots of lazy, flowing water. I found nothing of the sort. Ain’t nothing typical about the Flint. From the Upper Flint where Sprewell Bluff and Pine Mountain make you feel like you’re paddling through the North Georgia mountains to Mitchell County’s limestone bluffs, the Flint does not behave like Georgia rivers are supposed to.

The lower Flint is rife with shoals–yes, shoals. Nothing more than a few riffles, but the combination of lots of limestone and “improvements” to navigation (rock wing dams and islands) introduced by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in the late 1800s make for long sections of fast-moving water. You’ll find shoals and swift-moving water on all but the lower 20 miles of the journey.

The lower Flint has rock bluffs–yes, rock–not sand. High sandy bluffs are the norm on Coastal Plain rivers, but the Flint cuts through  extensive deposits of limestone. The result is a series of high bluffs that often overhang the river, allowing canoes and kayaks to drift beneath the rock shelves that are beautifully festooned in ferns.

A riverside spring, flanked by a cypress tree, spills into the Flint in Baker County.

The lower Flint has springs…but not creeks. A float on the lower Flint brilliantly and beautifully illustrates the dramatic interplay between South Georgia’s extensive aquifers and the surface water of the Flint. Crystal clear springs unexpectantly boil forth on the banks of the river, and many more rise up from the river bottom. In the 78 miles between Albany and Bainbridge there are said to be at least 20 large springs feeding the Flint. In those same miles, only four creeks empty into the river. As a result of these pure inputs of groundwater, the Flint flows amazingly clear. In fact, it is one of the few rivers in South Georgia where visibility is so good that snorkeling is a legitimate activity.

And, the Flint is teaming with wildlife: the albino crayfish and blind cave salamanders that inhabit the underwater caves are among the Flint’s most notable residents, though they are only seen by the scuba divers that venture into these dark, water-filled caverns. Above ground during my five days on the river, I encountered…alligators (including one 10-foot monster), otters, deer, feral hogs, coyotes, fox squirrels, wild turkey, ospreys, bald eagles and armadillos to name just a few.

While cooking dinner the first night of my journey, I heard my dog Conee chasing something through the woods. Soon, the predator and prey were crashing through the underbrush down the slope behind me. The prey careened into my tent, bounced off, launched itself across my lap, knocked over my cook pot and disappeared into the woods, leaving me with half a pot of chili, welts on my inner thigh from a strong set of claws and a stunned look on my face. Conee never caught the creature, but my best guess is armadillo.

A limestone shelf shelters the Flint in Mitchell County.

This was the first of many surprises that the Flint dished out over the next four days of beautiful paddling. I have seen at least 1500 distinct miles of Georgia rivers, and I have never encountered anything quite like the Flint. It’s odd. We’ve been scouting and paddling a different river every year for the last nine years. I keep thinking that eventually they will all begin to look the same…but they don’t.

In August, it was the Ogeechee’s mysterious braided channels that befuddled me: a wide, deep blackwater river would suddenly dissolve into several narrow, waterless, winding and strainer-filled channels. Now, in November, the Flint has me flummoxed. Where art thou sandbars? Where art thou bights and rounds? Alas, the Flint doesn’t offer up those features. Instead, you get boiling springs and bizarre limestone.

So get ready for surprises on Paddle Georgia 2013. The Flint is no stereotypical South Georgia river.

Registration for Paddle Georgia 2013 begins in February. Look for details coming soon on the Paddle Georgia website and–if you are on the Paddle Georgia e-mail list–in your inbox

Joe Cook

Nov. 27, 2012

A typical view of the river in Baker County–limestone bluffs dressed with cypress and sycamore trees.

Ichawaynochaway Creek is one of just four tributary creeks on the Flint in the 78 miles between Albany and Bainbridge. Here, cypress knees mark the mouth of this legendary creek.

Rock islands, shoals and bars like this one are common on the Flint in the 80 miles from Lake Blackshear to the backwaters of Lake Seminole near Bainbridge. The islands and bars constrict the river’s flow and create long sections of swift moving water.

Conee the dog keeps watch from the bow of the canoe on the lower Flint.

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12 in 12 River Challenge 8 & 9!

Mary and Liz are movin’ on up with their recent paddling trip on the Ocmulgee and Little Ocmulgee Rivers over the holiday!
Check out their adventures by reading their blog:


Make sure to read all the paddlers’ 12 in 12 stories too!

Get inspired, Get excited, and Go paddling! 

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R U Ready2Raft the Perfect Rapid?

The waveshaper will allow you to do just that.

The waveshaper was crafted by S.L. Green Company, Opelika, Alabama. It consists of two fins; the first weighed 17,000 pounds and the 2nd weighed 23,000 pounds. The fins will allow whitewater architects to adjust the rapids for maximum enjoyment.

The first waveshaper fin was installed last week; the last fin was installed this morning, November 16. 
The waveshaper is on the Georgia side of the whitewater course.

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Like us on facebook and get the latest project updates
including the outfitter selection and major project milestones.
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The sport of kayaking is an excellent form of exercise!

The disciplines it develops are strength, endurance, flexibility and balance. A great cardiovascular workout, which can aid in strengthening the heart and increasing blood flow, it also can help keep the body tone and fit while enjoying nature and the great outdoors.

Check out this Kayak calorie burning estimation tool…


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KUDOS to Patrick Phelps for finishing the 12 rivers in 2012 challenge!

His paddling adventures were on the following 12 rivers:

IMG_34901. Oconee – March 6
2. Broad – March 15
3. Etowah – April 21, Aug 18
4. Notelly – May 27
5. Chattahoochee – June 9
6. Oostanaula – Aug 11
7. Coosa – Aug 18
8. Conasauga – Sept 2
9. Chestatee – Sept 8
10. Yellow – Sept 15
11. Soque – Sept 29
12. Ocmulgee – Nov 4

Read all the paddlers’ 12 in 12 stories and get inspired, get excited, and go paddling!

As y’all know we have been highlighting 12 in 2012 paddling adventures in our newsletters, Facebook, and Twitter, so make sure to check ‘em out.
And if lo and behold you have not signed up for our newsletters you can do so by clicking HERE!
Make sure to also peruse our Water Trails Website when searching and planning for your next paddling adventure. It’s a great a place to find out about water trails, paddling events and trips, and outfitters and amenities throughout the State.

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Once again we come to you to thank you for your support.  No note we send can convey the affect your gift will make on the State of GDirtyDozenLogo 2eorgia. This past year, Georgia River Network continued to provide the Georgia Water Wire blog which exposes readers to topics and the choices we all make regarding water, economics and politics – for better or worse- all over the state and region.  The blog is an excellent resource for our partners to stay on-top of what’s happening and for citizens at the grassroots to learn new things.

With our partners in the Georgia Water Coalition, we released the second annual Dirty Dozen report last week which highlights Georgia’s most threatened water resources and the most egregious water pollution problems.  By garnering significant statewide press coverage of the Dirty Dozen, we aim to educate the public about ongoing threats to our waterways and engage the public in finding a resolution.

Together, we are having a positive impact on the future of Georgia’s rivers, and we cannot thank you enough.

Georgia River Network
126 South Milledge Ave. Suite E3, Athens, GA 30605
Become a Member Today – Join

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Tom BemanTom Beman, one of Georgia River Network’s leadership donors, recently told us that he supports GRN because “If we don’t protect our rivers from pollution, damming, and just the destruction of the rivers, we are going to lose them.  It is my belief that the quality of the water in the river and the quality of the land surrounding the river is an indicator of the condition of society around them.”  We are grateful to Tom and all of our donors who not only help us financially but who passionately believe that it is our duty to protect and restore the rivers of Georgia.One of the ways that GRN accomplishes this mission is through our annual Weekend for Rivers conference. Last year, 130 folks joined us at the Chattahoochee Nature Center to hear the stories that derived from their personal engagement with our rivers. These stories provide history, education, and inspiration for all of those who care about Georgia’s waterways.  We learned how to remove tires from a river; we heard a beautiful story about the power of Mother Nature and one person’s connection Ocmulgee River and an interesting tale about how rivers and politics can make strange bedfellows; and we were educated about the new National Water Trails designation for the Chattahoochee.Together, we are having a positive impact on the future of Georgia’s rivers, and we cannot thank you enough.

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