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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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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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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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A beautiful mist shrouded the river as participants first set paddle on the Chattahoochee at Settles BridgeP1030471. The water was crystal clear and the river bottom lined with colorful gravel and gnarled drift wood.  So refreshing and majestic….

The STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, & Mathematics) Youth group, most of whom had never paddled before, were a bit hesitant to set out at first, but as soon as they hit the river they paddled their canoes as if dancing onP1030529 the water- smiling from ear to ear. Be sure to check out the Paddle Georgia Youth Blogspot blog throughout the week.P1030572

Ichthyologist Camm Swift was quick to find a Sucker Fish, that he explained was most likely freshly skewered by a Great Blue Heron and accidentally dropped back into the river.

And speaking of fresh fish, kayak fishing in Georgia has grP1030796own exponentially in popularity in recent years,  and Paddle Georgia paddlers are no exception.

Rainbow and Brown Trout are two of the most popular  fish caught by sport fisherman in Metro Atlanta as a result of the rP1030825elease of water from the bottom of  Buford Dam, which has changed the historic warm waters of the river to a chilly 48 degrees and in turn the species of fish that are able to live here. Participants learned more about this at Buford Trout Hatcherythe Buford Trout Hatchery today, where millions of trout are stocked into the Chattahoochee and other Georgia rivers each year.P1030739

But the frigid water didn’t stop kids and adults alike from whipping out their super-soakers and squirt guns and spraying each other down mercilessly with glee- Yippee!

sWhat an amazing first day on the Chattahoochee river…P1030854

The evening was also filled with excitement as Georgia River Network Development Director, Davin Welter announced that 39 canoe-A-thoners raised a stunning $44,000 this year, the most we have ever raised yet!  WOW!!!

Terry Pate took the gold again this year, raising $6,205; followed by John Branch, Tom Beman and James Watson with assistance from his dad Tim.P1030887

We are so very thankful for everyone’s hard work, support and success in taking on this challenge with such vigor and enthusiasm!

So excited about tomorrow’s journey!

Keep on rollin’ down the river ~

Gwyneth Moody

 

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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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We have officially reached the half-way point of Paddle Georgia 2013 with 3 DSC_6363days of awesome paddling behind us and 3 more ahead. Everyone really enjoyed their stay at Chehaw with their friendly staff, beautiful grounds and comfortable facilities and we were all sad to leave, but excited about the new digs in Camilla.

P1010089

Although everyone seemed to cringe at the mention of a 21 mile paddle – the current was the fastest we’ve had yet and we scooted swiftly along.P1000943

P1000998Playful paddlers, as always we encountered hoola hooping in the morning and bubbles in the afternoon.P1010050

Red Tailed Hawks, Belted P1000653Kingfisher, Bob Whites, Pileated woodpeckers, and Green Heron could be heard and occasionally seen through the canopy that shrouded the winding river.P1010062

The limestone caves along this stretch were beautiful and mysterious with their tight crevices and dangling ferns that formed curtains on the rock walls surrounding the cave mouth.

Twisted, gnarly roots of Sycamore and Cypress trees reached out like fingers and hands holding back the river bank, their knees jutting up out of the water resembling mud castles at the beach.P1000972

And even with the usual swimming, lounging, and jumping from rope swings paddlers completed the trip in record time, and were shuttled to our new home of Mitchell County High School.

And what a better way to end the day than with an awesome street party in Camilla!P1010115 It was great to see everyone boogying down and enjoying themselves so immensely.

Looking forward to another day in South Georgia paradise tomorrow!

Keep on rollin’ down the river,

Gwyneth Moody

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