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Today we completed our shortest day of the trip – about 10 miles. I can only describe this day as short and sweet – short days on the river leave time for fun, sun, and relaxation.Day 4-PG15 And the Ogeechee River delivered and delighted on all accounts. Well, except for maybe sun. Distant storm clouds treated us to cool temps and playful breezes. I must say it was one of the most enjoyable days I have had all my days of Paddle Georgia.
After sleeping in until about 6:15am I headed out to grab my daily Café Campesino, a must-have for an awesome day. Then, I sat down to enjoy Effingham County High School’s outstanding breakfast, which not only included a hot bar but also a selection of sweets. The Paddle Georgia Youth Program girls took full advantage of the doughnuts, sweet buns, and muffins to fuel up for the day. Day 4-PG15
The girls, all students at Camp Creek Middle School in Fulton County, make up our Paddle Georgia Youth Program. Each year, a group of underserved students receive scholarships to join the Paddle Georgia flotilla and I am fortunate to guide them down the river. All are “canoe-bies”, new to canoeing and camping and eager to learn. The Ogeechee’s waters have taught them to be fantastic paddlers and their skills improve daily – strategizing with their paddling partner to sneak through strainers, reading their maps to know what to expect ahead, and seeking out the best beaches for swimming.
Wildlife is always fun – we arrived at the put-in to find that a sneaky field mouse had made our canoe home for the night. A few miles into the day we spotted a water snake gorging itself on a fish. Our students snagged a live mussel out of the sand and peered into its shell to find it was still inside. We also spotted Swallow-tailed Kites, dragonflies galore, and even a darter.Day 4-PG15
The helpful current and low mileage left us lots of time to relax – a welcome break from the past few more challenging days. Water cannons locked and loaded, we ambushed some of our fellow paddlers in a friendly water war. Call me bias, but I think we had ‘em beat. We took a peek at our watches around mile 9 to see that it was only about 3pm, so we grabbed a beach and a cookie break and soaked in the river life, laughing with one another and coming up with river names for each other. Our crew now consists of “Nascar”, “Coach”, “Bacon”, “Fro”, “Little Dolphin Girl”….you get the idea. Don’t be surprised to hear someone say “Hey Tiki Torch!” as we banter across our boats to each other. Don’t be surprised to hear us singing, whistling, or trying to solve Mr. Joey’s (now affectionately named “Chilly”) latest riddle. With our crew, the fun never stops.
Speaking of fun, tonight’s evening programs were all about fun.

Day 4-PG15

All 300-some odd thru-paddlers obediently gathered for the annual group photo and then headed to dinner. As I type, the sounds of fun surround me – the rhythm of Cornhole bags hitting the boards during the very-popular Cornhole Tournament, Victor’s gameshow music echoes through the cafeteria during Game Show Night, and the folks with Adopt-a-Stream share their expertise with a group of around 35 people so that they too can keep watch over our waters. Day 4-PG15The Paddle Georgia Youth Program girls are all also on their way to becoming certified by AAS, I can’t wait to hear what they’ve learned.
Days like this make it easy to see why Paddle Georgia has captured my heart. The community, the advocacy, and for me, the tradition. Good people abound. It’s contagious. My hope is that our Youth Program participants catch the love of rivers and help us sustain our water resources for the future.
Alicia Evans, Georgia River Network Board of Directors

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Day 2-PG2015How did you celebrate Father’s Day? For Paddle Georgia participants, it was with a 17 mile float, making today our longest day. The many sweepers and strainers slowed the day down but brought us paddlers together on this long stretch of river. It’s easy to spread out along the water but the jams, after causing short frustration, spawned a new sense of comradery. Paddlers shared sunscreen and jokes referring to the hold up as “worse than Atlanta traffic”. With lots of strainers, miles, and boat traffic, a popular rope swing was a welcomed distraction from this hard paddle. Day 2-PG2015Paddlers challenged each other to see who could jump farthest or who could do the best back flip. We also kept cool with frequent and welcome water gun wars. There is nothing like a little rivalry to boast morale.

This hard paddle took time to tackle, causing the buses to pull us straight into an evening full of great food and riveting talks. Day 2-PG2015
Megan Desrosier, the Executive Director for 100 Miles, presented about Georgia coastal conservation and activism. Tim Echols from the Georgia Public Service Commission spoke on the rising electric car usage in Georgia.

Finally, it was time to retire after a long day. Paddlers went to back to a village of temporary homes, commonly known as Tent City. a unique site created by paddlers. Tents are huddled in the shade, leaving the football field wide open and the goal post to be used as a makeshift clothesline. A strong sense of community is created here, as people sit outside tents in circles sharing opinions and telling stories. Neighbors with portable fans are the most popular. When one woman was attacked by a hill of ants, her neighbors in Tent City came to the rescue with unique home remedies to fix the problem – one of the many instances of generosity and helpfulness exhibited in our temporary home. Other campers have chosen to stay inside the cool gym, turning it into a mattress lined “refugee camp”. Day 2-PG2015After a hard day of paddling, both Tent City and the cool gym are great places to conclude our successful Father’s Day on the Ogeechee River.

Amelia Lord and Jamie Rogers, Paddle Georgia Enthusiasts

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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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AP1030923fter a taste of the week ahead, day 2 of Paddle Georgia 2014 started out with even more excitement than the first!

We set out for the days’ 15 mile adventure on Jones Bridge Shoals with gP1040058uidance from our savvy safety boaters. The chilly water splashed our faces giving everyone a second burst of energy.

Many paddlers took Joe Cook’s challenge of awarding a prize to whoever collected the most golf balls very seriously and could be seen braving the frigid water to collect their bounty of white gold.

The beautiful sunny hot weather felt amazing, and a cool spray-down from the devilish Paddle Georgia Pirates was a welcome reprieve to some and a jolting shock to others.

Paddlers have great pride in their personal canoes and kayaks and outfit their boats not only with fancy piratesseats and fishing rods, but also mascots of all shapes and sizes.  From Godzilla and King Kong to roses and flamingos, nothing is too geeky or posh for Paddle Georgian’s.P1040006

Although we are paddling through metro Atlanta, abundant wildlife could be seen above and below the  water. Red Shouldered Hawks, Mallard Ducks, Pileated woodpeckers, Spottail shiner, Yellow-Bellied Slifish boyder turtles, Crane Fly larvae,  Muskrat, and River Otter are just a few of the critters paddlers reported seeing along the way.P1040087

One of the awe-inspiring aspects of Paddle Georgia is the number of families that participate year after year and who have made this an essential part of their summer vacation. Georgia River Network’ staff have watched kids grow from boisterous bouncy boys and girls into mature young men and women in the 10 years Paddle Georgia  has been in existence.

The day ended with informative and entertaining presentations by Naturalist Drew Lanhan, Chattahoochee Riverkeeper, Sally Bethea, and yours truly about Georgia Water Trails.P1040133

Looking forward to another  fabulous day on the Hooch tomorrow!

Keep on rollin’ down the river ~

Gwyneth Moody
Community Programs Coordinator,
Georgia River Network

 

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Leslie Avra's Toes Paddle Georgia 2014 has finally arrived for the four hundred and fifty lucky paddlers who won the lottery to attend this year’s 110 mile journey on the Chattahoochee river through Atlanta, and like Leslie Avra, they are toe-tally ready!P1030329P1030331

Volunteers, staff and Paddle Georgia interns arrived bright eyed and bushy tailed at Lambert High School  to prepare for everyone’s registration en-mass and we can’t thank them enough for their hard work and support… P1030332We couldn’t do it with out them!     H I G H    F I V E!

We are always excited to have a large Paddling workshopnumber of novice paddlers join us every year and to assist in boosting their confidence we offer a paddling workshop, which this year was led by extraordinary paddler Steve Kramer.

The excitement and fervor heightened as the shuttle buses arrived  and people dropped their luggage with yelps of joy as theP1030355y reunited with Paddle Georgia buddies from year’s past.

Not only is this year special because it’s Paddle Georgia’s 10 year anniversary, but also because we are stepping up our sustainability goals a notch by going beyond recycling-  and composting all of our food P1030356waste for the first time, thanks to help from Kevin SP1030333mith with Keep Forsyth County Beautiful.

So exciting!

 

 

The classic Paddle Georgia ‘Tent City’ quickly emerged from the Lambert High playing fieP1030409lds complete with pirate flags and mansion sized abode’s. Paddle Georgian’s don’t mess around when it comes to comfort after a long day paddling.

 

By 8 o’clock the crowd was a buzz with exuberant conversation, as everyone settled in, found friends,  made new ones, and devoured a delicious dinner provided by Satterfields Restaurant & Catering.

Paddle Georgia is not just for the hard-core paddler or the river rat, but inclP1030387udes the young and old, and  people of different abilities and backgrounds.

Paddle Georgia allows everyone to join together as a community of paddlers and become part of a bigger movement of river restoration and protection efforts, achieved through getting to know the intimacies of a river.

You just have to be prepared to get a little dirty, spend 7 days on a beautiful river, learn a lot, and have a whole lot of fun with great people!

Can’t wait for our first day on the Hooch to begin!

Keep on rollin’ down the river,

~Gwyneth Moody

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GRN banner2013 Monthly Photo Showcase and GRN Staff Pick of the Month

We want to give a BIG high five to Cindy Leighton, who submitted the winning Staff Pick photo of July’s Showcase

Best Paddle Georgia 2013 Photo

 Cindy Leighton

‘Mysteries Await’

Check out the slide show below to see all of the amazing photos submitted!

July Photo showcase

Make sure to get those creative juices flowing for August’s Topic:

Funniest Paddling Photo

So this is the scoop, each month we have a different theme and invite you to send us a photo that you think best represents the topic of the month.

We will showcase everyone’s photos on our website and social media and one photo per month will receive the illustrious title of ‘GRN Staff Pick of the Month’ and the chosen photo’s author will receive a surprise token of gratitude.

We will accept photo entries up until the third week of each month and announce the GRN staff pick and showcase all photo submissions the last week of each month. Submit your August’s photo entry NOW to Gwyneth@garivers.org

August‘s theme:

Funniest Paddling Photo

Check out the 2013 Monthly Themes:

Looking forward to seeing your AMAZING photos!
Mary and Kit Flamingo Flotilla
Want to see more photos from Paddle Georgia 2013?
Georgia River Network
126 South Milledge Ave. Suite E3, Athens, GA 30605
706-549-4508
http://www.garivers.org
Become a Member Today –
Join

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The last day of Paddle Georgia has finally arrived and paddlers – although a bit P1010890rugged- still had the same spunk and excitement as the first day, P1010900playing, lounging, and cruising along still meeting new people and catching up with paddlers from years past.P1020088

The geology of the river, with the underlying Floridan aquifer, bubbling springs, and towering  cliff banks with hidden fossils of creatures from the Oligocene epoch 35 million years ago and the importance of this resource for water supply, never ceased to amaze paddlers.

Big Slough was an enchanting side trip from the main stem of the Flint- with aquatic plants we had not seen up until now- truly a wetland sanctuary!  And even P1020046the exotic and invasive Hydrilla covering the stream bed with its green fuzzy alien tentacles was a beautiful sight.

The river was lined with dead trees standing tall like telephone poles- which had giant fist sized holes providing housing for Pileated Woodpeckers, Great Crested Flycatchers, Wood Ducks just to name a few….P1020024

P1010949It seemed that around every bend a paddler had found a cozy spot in the shade to take a snooze in their boat-drifting, and bobbing to the rhythm of the river.

We are so proud of the Camp Horizon kids for their positive attitudes and perseverance. Such a strong and inquisitive group – and so much fun to hang out with!P1020041

It was touching to see so many families out on the river together. Steve and Elliot Cousins are such a awesome father/son duo, who have been attending Paddle Georgia for many years, and as Elliot said “It’s a great way to spend quality time together, especially since Paddle Georgia always occurs on Father’s Day”.P1010956

Folks pulled into the last Take-Out with grins from ear to ear and paddles raised high! 106 Georgia river miles under their belt with fantastic stories of their adventures to bring home to family and friends.

P1020098Parrie Pinya, an avid paddler and veteran Paddle Georgian passed onto the great spirits earlier this year and it was her wish to have her ashes spread into the rivers of Georgia she loved so dearly. Needless to say it was a great honor and we took her ashes with us on our entire Paddle Georgia journey and held a Memorial ceremony, releasing her into the beautiful current of the Flint river.P1020183

This has been such a magical experience for us all and we really look forward to seeing everyone next year on the Chattahoochee for Paddle Georgia 2014.

Keep on rollin’ down the river!

Gwyneth Moody

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