If Georgia rivers get any better than the Flint River between Albany and Bainbridge, you can pummel me with water cannons in the middle of a sub-freezing winter paddle. I just don’t think it gets much better than this 70-mile run…especially when you’re in the company of 140 other paddling enthusiasts as each of us was during the four days of Fall Float on the Flint.
Where else in the deep south of Georgia can you run whitewater shoals (O.K., O.K. it’s not the Chattooga, but it’s still fun)? Where else can you find a gopher tortoise swimming across a river while a bald eagle soars over head? Where else can you leap into water so crystal clear and blue that it appears almost cartoonish? Where else can you uncover 50 million year-old fossils of sea shells in one hand and native freshwater mussel shells in the other hand…all on the same sandbar?
If I were naming bucket list paddles in Georgia, the Fall Float run on the Flint would have to be near the top of the list.
And, this year’s Fall Floaters would agree.
Melissa Ballard of Fairmount who brought along five members of her Boy Scout Adventure Crew shared with us some of the comments she heard from her teenagers on the way home:
“The best part was…all of it.”
“The springs were beautiful. I loved the places we camped.”
“The best part of the trip?…definitely the springs, jumping from the tree, the cliff jump…well, OK, all of it.”
Upon arriving home after four days on the Flint, Cynthia Cox posted to Facebook: “I loved this paddle so much…I’m already missing it.”
I for one am still telling shoal bass jokes, and I’m especially fond of Barry O’Neill’s offering: A shoal bass walks into the sandbar and the bartender says, “Hey that’s an nice pair of Bass Wejun penny loafers you have on there.” To which the shoal bass replies, “Thanks, and they’ve got great shoals.”
Bad jokes and all kidding aside, this year’s Fall Float did what all of Georgia River Network’s paddle trips do. It connected people with rivers, starting intimate relationships that lead to paddlers taking action to protect rivers.
During the course of the four day event, the group heard from Flint Riverkeeper Gordon Rogers and American Rivers’ Jeremy Diner, learning about how state water policies are draining the Flint dry and what solutions are out there to reverse the trend.
More than a dozen paddlers participated in Georgia Adopt-A-Stream water testing workshops; 32 individuals donated money to Georgia River Network for the chance to win a $250 pot of cash in our first ever Poker Run (David Garr was the winner with a flush!) and countless participants purchased raffle tickets to win a new canoe (Polly Sattler of Atlanta was the winner).
Together, we generated about $10,000 to help Georgia River Network and Flint Riverkeeper protect our rivers…and we had a great time doing it.
If you haven’t run the Flint from Albany to Bainbridge, put it on your bucket list, and hopefully, you can join us for another Fall Float on the Flint.