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Posts Tagged ‘Paddle Georgia’

What do legislators, trash and unicorns have in common?

Day 6 of Paddle Georgia finds the paddle participants on the river with invited professionals and Georgia legislators. This popular day had professionals from Sierra Club, PG15-Day 6100 Miles, Chattahoochee Riverkeeper and Josh Findlay from US Reps Jody Hice’s office. The new “fresh” paddlers gave all of us an opportunity to share “our” river with them and talk about the beautiful journey we have been on this week.PG15-Day 6 Yes, it feels like we know this river. We have bumped and shimmied and danced around her trees. We have bathed in her cool, clear amber water. We have lounged on her many large, CLEAN, sugar sandbars. I think I can speak for many a paddler who is very sad to see this journey coming to the end and promise to come back.

CLEAN, yes in caps… the cleanest river IPG15-Day 6 have ever been on…period. Being the “Trash Queen” I guess I can be considered sort of an expert. Today, Thursday, is our Paddle Georgia river trash cleanup. I was so fortunate to have past PG participant Christine Kirkland from Effingham County Schools contact me and offer to help me with our cleanup months ago.PG15-Day 6 Not only did she and fellow teacher Lauren Osborne arrange for the dumpster, they also made sure we had a party! The generous people of Effingham County thanked the PG paddlers with food, cold drinks, T-shirts and much merriment. Even in this clean river we managed to bring in around 1,500lbs of river trash.

O yeah….Unicorns… yes unicorns. There has been a unicorn appearing on the side of the river on various paddling days. I included a picture, and just for the record I had absolutely nothing to do with this appearance.PG15-Day 6Lots of people have seen it, and yes it is alive, yes it is kind of silly, and maybe even a little weird. But when I first saw it, just for a split second, I believed it was magic. The Ogeechee can do that.

Bonny Putney, Georgia River Network Board Member

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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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What’s better than a beautiful day on the primeval Ogeechee River?  Everyone’s been asking—GRN’s own Gwyneth Moody and her husband Daniel Peiken have a beautiful new baby girl, Aviva Zephyr Peiken, born this day as we paddled our way down the Ogeechee River.  Happy Birthday Aviva!

The Ogeechee River—Unlike any other river yet on Paddle Georgia, is at times, a blast from the past, shaded byDay 3-PG15overhanging thickets of willows so dense you can hardly see a neon kayak on the bank a dozen feet away.  The Ogeechee River’s mostly clear to tannic waters are at times broad and calm; at times shaded by stately cypress and oak bearded with Spanish moss, longleaf pines peppered with woodpecker nest holes. It’s always changing.   Around the bend, the river turns from wide to narrow channels choked with trees that topple into the river from its banks as the river undercuts their roots.  These areas are a bit more technical, meaning more care is needed to safely navigate the fallen trees and branches that form strainers and sweepers that can entangle the less wary travelers, sometimes blocking the entire river.  Luckily, our safety boaters and volunteers scout each section a few days before us, cutting away branches and trees and marking areas for safer passage. Day 3-PG15Our helpers do an amazing job of helping all through the tighter stretches, even cutting away sections of new deadfall that were clear a few days ago. The Geechee has plenty of sand bars and sandy banks shaded by willow breaks to make ample spots for pausing to watch the other boats go by (and to cool them off with lots of water barrages).Day3-PG15

The evening festivities at Effingham High School, after another wonderful meal by Satterfield’s catering, showcased our canoe-a-thon fundraisers who brought in over $37,000 in donations for Georgia River Network and Ogeechee RIverkeeper. Terry Pate topped this list again, with $6415 in donations (Terry has raised $16,000 over the years for canoe-a-thon), followed by

  1. Jim & Debbie Fountain
  2. Alicia Evans (41 donors)
  3. Tim & James Watson
  4. Tom Beman
  5. John Branch
  6. Dee Stone
  7. Alan Crawford
  8. Leslie Raymer
  9. Chris PetersonDay3-PG15
  10. Tammy Griffith

The Ogeechee Riverkeeper, Emily Markestyn, presented about their good work on this beloved river.  She reviewed the accomplishments and victories of the Ogeechee Riverkeeper, in protecting, preserving, and improving the water quality of the Ogeechee River Basin.  The 2011 fish kill of 38,000 fish at the King America Finishing wastewater outfall over Memorial Day Weekend led a wake up call along the Ogeechee. Day3-PG15This tragedy caused by unpermitted discharge of fire retardant chemicals led to a $2.3 million dollar settlement when the O.R.K sued King America under the Clean Water Act, along with setting the precedent for better permit review and transparency.  The ORK is using those funds to update the land use plan for the Ogeechee Basin and to do a new macro-invertebrate study to compare changes in the river since the last study in the 1980s.Day3-PG15

Café Campesino has been perking us up with coffee and smoothies since the first paddle Georgia.  Since 2007, Dave, Jamie, Justin and their clan have kept us awake and happy with our coffee.

We do Paddle Georgia to get folks out on Georgia’s rivers and really connect with why clean rivers and the importance of ample drinking water supply. That’s why we support GRN and the many organizations like the Ogeechee Riverkeeper that benefit from the fundraising of Paddle Georgia.  The fun parts are up to you and those of us on the river.

-Victor Johnson, Georgia River Network Board of Directors

Broad River Watershed Association 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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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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