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Archive for the ‘Georgia Rivers’ Category

photoOur last day on Fall Float 2014 had arrived with amazing speed and camaraderie. All 175 paddlers packed up their camp, loaded aboard the Baker county school buses and hit the Flint.

Folks who enjoy fishing were amongst the first to launch, ready to see what their lines would pull in. Shoal Bass were particularly exciting to see, given their threatened status.

The landscape of the 18 mile section that we paddled today had a bit of a different flavor than that of the previous 3 days. Long beautiful, golden sandbars and steep reddish bluffs jutted out of the river, as well as no shortage of farms, pastureland, and plantations.

The wind picked up significantly in the late morning as if the Greek God Aeolus decided we hadn’t had enough of a workout on the last 54 miles of paddling and wanted to make sure we returned home with chiseled muscles to impress our family, friends and coworkers.

Falling leaves swirled and danced above us gracefully before touching the water below and joining other leaves ebbing along with the flow of the rivers current.

Dobsonfly egg cases which resemble bird droppings could be seen on tree trunks and on the tips of leaves, soon to hatch out and fall into the water below to begin their cycle of life. Metamorphosing from ferocious swimming predatory nymphs called Hellgrammites (often used as fish bait), to flying adults, the males of which have 2 inch mandibles.

Other less conspicuous critters that were spotted along the banks include tree frogs, turtles, giant spiders, and the chimney-like burrows of Crawfish. Just to name a few.

The Springs we encountered were small but pristine, and the water seemed to boil forth with more fury than previous blue holes we had seen.

We pulled into our final landing with a sense of accomplishment and a heightened understanding and passion for this mighty river and sensitive ecosystem.

As your head hits the pillow tonight- with a well-earned thump – we hope you reflect on the new friendships, experiences, and knowledge gained from this first Paddle Georgia Fall Float, and we look forward to seeing you on the next Georgia River Network adventure!

Y’all come back now, y ’hear?

Keep on rollin’ down the river ~

Gwyneth Moody

Georgia River Network
Community Programs Coordinator

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Most paddlers were up before sunrise this morning – the campground dotted with bobbing headlamps as people prepared for the day ahead.  After a scrumdidaliumptious breakfast of grits, eggs, sausage, biscuits with grape jelly and of course a big cuppa delicious coffee from the friendly folks at Café Campesino, we were ready to hit the river! It was such a convenience to launch directly from our campsite at Rocky Bend Flint River Retreat…   

After a couple of miles we came upon a large sandbar on the edge of the 29,000-acre Joseph W. Jones Ecological Research Center Outdoor Laboratory where a presentation about the amazing diversity of mussels was being held.  Participants could also walk back into the Long Leaf Pine Forest to learn about this threatened ecosystem, and the endemic and keystone species that live here such as the gopher tortoise.

The Georgia Adopt-A-Stream team were out in force training paddlers to become certified in water quality monitoring taking water samples at every tributary in order to determine the health of the river.

Millions of years ago the Georgia Coastal Plain was covered by the ocean and sea creatures lived, died and were buried by sediment and eventually fossilized, which you can spot embedded in the limestone river banks.

Although the temperatures today were the hottest we’ve experienced yet, reaching the low 90’s – you could tell that this part of the State has already  felt the breath of fall as a few leaves had turned to beautiful hues of red, orange,  and gold.

The last highlight of our journey today was a brief paddle up the majestic Ichawaynochaway Creek. The clarity of the water almost matched the springs we’ve encountered in days past, but had a distinctive reddish tint rather than blue. It was nice to sneak off into the Creek which had an intimate feel as opposed to the wide breadth of the Flint River.

Today’s paddle was a little over 17 miles but seemed to go by much faster than yesterday’s jaunt, leaving time in the afternoon for fun and games back at camp ranging from hoola hooping and corn hole to relaxing in a riverside hammock and getting a rejuvenating massage from Eddie  ‘Magic Hands’ Escobar.

Satterfields provided another sumptuous supper that left everyone feeling satiated, smiley and ready for the evening entertainment of S’mores and river trivia by the campfire.

Rejuvenated after a great day, paddlers are ready for our last day on the fabulous Flint tomorrow!

Keep on rollin’ down the river ~

Gwyneth Moody

Georgia River Network
Community Programs Coordinator

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   P1070723 175 exuberant paddlers set off early this morning for our first day on the fabulous Flint river.

 Although we had anticipated cool fall weather, temps warmed up to the upper 80’s today- a welcome delight for those that decided to brave the beautiful but chilly 68 degree blue holes we encountered at Radium and Wilson Blue Springs.

Some folks even had the foresight to bring their snorkels to peer down into the depths where the water spewed forth.

P1070715Camm Swift and Brett Albanese- ichthyologists extraordinaire- dragged their seine net and scooped up a plethora of shiner, sunfish, minnow, and bass, etc… not to mention the scorpion water bug that resembled a walking stick but had a powerful bite for those that accidentally made a misstep.

 

The limestone topography dotted the river banks resembling a moonscape, with Floridan Aquifer spring water gurgling up from the depths below. Lush green ferns and vibrant red and purple flowers hung over the karst ledges and caves beneath like a garden, with the occasional waterfall beckoning us to come closer. 

You never would have guessed that you were paddling through downtown Albany until we made a special detour to the Flint Riverquarium.

Paddlers parked their vessels under the overhanging branches of giant cypress and made there way 200 feet around the construction of a new riverwalk and boat launch to the Aquarium.

It was such an interesting experience to go from the secluded and intimate river corridor into revitalized downtown Albany with its pedestrian street signs marking points of interest only walking distance away- such as the James Brown Memorial. 

The Riverquarium is a must see with very well done exhibits of native river life, such as catfish, gar, terrapin & alligator snapping turtles, albino alligator and even tanks with animals from the gulf- such as octopus, sea horse, piranha, shark, and urchin.

Although it was the shortest paddle of the trip at 14 miles,  the scenery along the way made us yearn to stay on the river longer. Giant cypress tress with there elbows and knees flanked almost every bank, twisting and jutting out of the water resembling picturesque statues of everything from swans and dancers, to mother and child.

Fathers paddling alongside their daughters,  mothers with their sons, such a heartening sight to see that these paddling adventures have become such a special family affair.

At the end of the paddle, the colorful assortment of kayaks, canoes, and stand up paddle boards were lined up on the sandy riverbank and the buses lined up to whisk everyone back to our lovely temporary home at Chehaw Park where showers and the evening festivities awaited.

We were thrilled to be joined by Flint river supporter, Representative Winfred J Dukes (Albany)!

Evening entertainment and educational presentations also included Brett Albanese, GA DNR and Gordon Rogers, Flint Riverkeeper,

What a fabulous day! Really excited about tomorrow’s journey…

Keep on rollin’ down the river ~

Gwyneth Moody,

Georgia River Network.
Community Programs Coordinator

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Although our arms and shoulders are a bit achy, our skin sun-kissed and crispy, and hands calloused and blistered, paddlers were sad that the last day of our journey on the Chattahoochee River had arrived.fam c

holeThe 15 mile journey today seemed like a breeze after 95 miles of paddling under 6 27 14 muskratour belts over the past 6 days.

Tunnel like tributaries could be seen every so often peeking through the vegetation draped river banks. We caught a muskrat enjoying its breakfast with such intensity that he didn’t even see us sneaking up to him. It’s whiskers and naked tail disappeared without a trace once we were practically upon it. It must have been a delicious meal!jump

The youth group had no trouble sharing their favorite parts of Paddle Georgia ranging from skipping rocks, the thrill of the shoals and rapids, water b (2)to learning how to paddle, seeing owls and other wildlife, and working very hard.waterfall fun

The most beautiful and definitely everyone’s favorite stop of the day was at Hilly Mill Falls, a majestic 40 ft waterfall cascading down into a cool deep swimming hole below.  It was arapidsn amazing and exhilarating feeling to go behind the water fall and look out from under the stream of water at everyone enjoying the pool beyond.

The rapids gave paddlers a thrilling hiatus from the lazy wide rolling river.fish frystand up

As expected, the end of our journey came too soon. To see the emotions pour forth from paddlers as the took their final strokes and drifted into the open arms, high fives, and kisses from loved ones awaiting them brought tears to our eyes.

The bluesy folk sound of the band, Heather Luttrelle and the Possum Den welcomed paddlers to the River’s End Celebration as well as juicy watermelon pfinishrovided by the Chattahoochee Riverkeeper and fresh caught fried fish, hush puppies, sweet corn and cole slaw from the Flint Riverkeeper.

This was April Ingle’s last Paddle Georgia as Georgia River Network’s, Executive Director.  kidsJoe Cook gave a sentimental speech explaining their founding of Paddle Georgia together 10 years ago and how April’s unwavering support for going forward with the journey has in turn changed the course of his life and the future of Georgia’s rivers.

We love you April and we will miss you!

Can’t wait for Paddle Georgia 2015 on the Ogeechee River…P1060763

Keep on rollin’ down the river ~

 

 

Gwyneth Moody
Georgia River Network
Community Programs Coordinator

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catawba 2Today was our longest paddle at a little over twenty miles. With 5 successful and exuberant days behind us, everyone’s confidence level and enthusiasm in being a part of, and continuing this awe-inspiring journey was soaring high.catawba 1

Evan Newman even convinced his parents that he was fine to continue paddling after breaking his finger the previous evening while horsing around!

Now that’s what I call a kid having a blast on the river…

Joe Kidd caught a Catawba caterpillar that he explained is a favorite food of many fish, as it commonly drops into the river from the leguminous Catawba tree leaves it munches on. The Catawba tree is a popular tree planted along rivers by fisherman looking to use the ‘worm’ as bait.

turtle 3Some of the wildlife seen along the way demonstrated the not so peachy parasitic side of life, including a swing 1leach attached to a baby yellow-bellied slider turtle. Every organism has its own unique role to play in the web of life.

P1050486Another interesting sight was the white egg cases of the Dobsonfly dotting the underside of trees and leaves along the riverbank. These little aquatic insects hatch out and drop into the water as nymphs and are fearsome top invertebrate predators with well-developed jaws. After one to three years they pupate into flying adults, mate, lay eggs and begin the life cycle again.

The sun came out in all its glory and paddlers were quick to leap out of their boats to enjoy the various rope swings along the way.

P1050733Of all the mascots gracing paddler’s boats the most historic was a photo of 19th century Naturalist, William Bartram who Georgia River Network board member, rain 1Dorinda Dallmeyer said she always takes with her on paddling trips.

After getting our dose of sun, refreshing rain showers moved in overhead giving the water a silvery hue speckled with sculptural like water droplets.

P1050889We ended our day on the river at Chattahoochee Bend State Park where we were welcomed with open arms, cold watermelon, and refreshing drinks.

Oh so delicious! P1060016

We were also excited and honored to have Georgia House of Representatives Natural Resource Committee Chair, Lynn Smith; Eagle Scout, Harrison Blair, and DNR Parks, Recreation, and Historic Sites Division Director, Becky Kelley show their support and pay us a visit.

After a fun-filled day on the river, a short rejuvenating nap on the bus was just what some people needed to be energized for the ‘No Talent Show’ that took place later in the evening.IMG_8915

P1060025The talent show was a big hit with performances ranging from horse-head hoola-hooping, acapella trio’s, and a recorder virtuoso, to comedy routines and a hilarious, skit celebrating Georgia River Network’s Executive Director, April Ingle and some of her memorably funny moments on Paddle Georgia over the last 10 years.P1060170

P1060258So sad that we have only one more day on the Chattahoochee River! But what amazing memories we will have to take back home with us!

 

 

Keep on rollin’ on the river ~

Gwyneth Moody

 

 

 

 

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After the short day on the river yesterday, paddlers were excited to spend a full day today paddling 17 miles on the Chattahoochee through southwest Metro Atlanta and beyond…teachers

The Scholarship Teacher group continued their training with ichthyologist Camm Swift learning how to seine for fish and macro invertebrates. Skills they will take home to their respective schools and teach to their students.

Unfortunately the torrential rains from the previous evening caught some singing bcampers off guard, including the youth group and their tents and contents within were completely soaked. However, you would have never guessed that today – with all of the singing that could be heard down the river.

Dog Creek Reservoir, reached from paddling up a small tributary, was an interesting special tour and a refreshing and relatively cledog aan swimming area for those folks who were wary of taking a dip in the Chattahoochee south of Atlanta.­­

Flowers paiflower bnted the riverbanks  throughout the day’s journey- Swamp Hibiscus, Trumpet Vine, Queen Anne’s Lace – to name a few

Butterflies and dragonflies fluttered from canoe to kayak, looking for a bit of sweet nectar, salts and minerals.

Sheronome lucky paddlers reported seeing beavers and we saw a beautiful Green Heron for the first time obutterflyn the journey.

The sun’s warmth and wide lazy river lulled some to sleep while adrift.

We arrived sooner than anticipated and headed off to our new home at Newnan High school.

Cedar Creek RV & Outdoor Center set up a 17,000 gallon pool on ttug dhe square in downtown Newnan for the famous Canoe Tug-o-War; newnanstreet vendors and non-profits had information booths set up; and a band and DJ entertained the crowd as they boogied down with great enthusiasm.

dancingWhat a fabulous way to end our 5th day on Paddle Georgia!

See y’all tomorrow!

 

keep on rollin’ down the river~

Gwyneth Moody

 

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Although we awoke to cool temperatures and overcast skies it was a nice respite Michelle Nunnfrom the hot steamy weather of the last few days.

Today was a particularly special day on Paddle Georgia as it is the one day that we invite professionals and legislators to join us on the paddle and get a taste for the adventure and all our river restoration and protection programs.S

We were delighted and honored to be joined by Michelle Nunn, the Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate from Georgia as well as representatives from watershed coalitions and environmental groups throughout the state.

This was also our ‘Trash Cleanup Day’ led by P1050119Trash Queen Bonny Putney. In the 10.5 mile stretch that we paddled- the shortest day on the water- paddlers collected a whopping 2500 lbs of P1050116trash!

And boy did we find some interesting, hilarious, strange, and scary things. From a larger than life-sized Bart Simpson, a Big Wheel tire, balls of all sports and sizes to crates, tires, old glass bottles and creepy baby dolls. It’s amazing what finds itself in the river.S

P1040056But amongst all the trash, we found wildlife such as an adorable baby soft shell turtle as well as fascinating artifacts such as pottery shards, arrow heads, and milk glass.

The Chattahoochee Riverkeeper team was P1050177instrumental in helping gather the large amount of trash overflowing from paddler’s kayaks and canoes with their snazzy motor boat.

Believe it or not, after 4 full days of paddling there were many pouty paddlers, who upon arriving at the take out wished that the day on the river was not over so soon.

Café Campesino’s delicious Ice Mochas and Fresh Fruit Smoothies awaited the sun-kissed paddlers – the perfect waP1050082y to ease into a lazy afternoon in a hammock with a book at Riverside Landing on the banks of the mighty Hooch.P1050185

Although the rain returned with a vengeance in the late afternoon, this didn’t put a damper on dinner and the informative ‘Politics of Water’ evening program.P1050226

It seems to just keep getting better with each passing day.

So glad to share it with everyone!

Keep on rollin’ on the river,

Gwyneth Moody

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