Hidden Gem Paddle & Campout draws visitors to Milledgeville!!

The two-day Lower Oconee Hidden Paddle & Campout on the Oconee river in Milledgeville was a big success with more than 60 participants ranging from 15 months old to paddlers in their 70s.

The event was organized by Georgia River Network , Lower Oconee Water Trail and Altamaha Riverkeeper as part of Georgia River Network’s Hidden Gems Paddling Series. The Hidden Gem events are aimed to highlight local up-and-coming water trails and provide opportunities for people to rediscover some of the hidden gems on Georgia’s waterways and learn ways that they can get involved in the many facets of river protection and enjoyment in their local community.

The short 8.3-mile float spread over two days was geared toward people new to paddling who might be intimidated by Georgia River Network’s longer trips such as the annual Paddle Georgia (seven days, 400 people, 100 miles).

Everyone seemed to enjoy the event, as participant Sarah Brookshire put it, “I had a great time paddling and camping on the Oconee River this weekend. One of the best things about kayaking is the people I get to know. We are all a little off and that makes it even better.”

The event included lunch on the Oconee River Greenway provided by Stacked and presentations along the route, ranging from the Oconee River Greenway (ORG) by Walter Reynolds (ORG Foundation), water health by Dr. Kalina Manoylov (Georgia College), river restoration by Dr. Doug Oetter (Georgia College) native/ invasive plants by Greg Eilers (Lockerly Arboretum) and animals by Ruth Eilers (Georgia College), local area history by Daniel Wilkinson (Georgia’s Old Capital Museum), and a live aquarium with fish seined from the river that afternoon by Camm Swift and Michael Wolfe (North America Native Fishes Association).

After setting up camp the evening was filled with a yoga class and drum circle by Good Karma Yoga, nature trivia by Georgia River Network, live music by Ron Harris, campfires and corn hole provided by Lower Oconee Water Trail and a festive low country boil dinner provided by the Altamaha Riverkeeper. Paddlers woke up to a beautiful sunrise and hot breakfast provided by The Local Yolkal Cafe before heading back out on the river for a leisurely float to the take out.

Tremendous assistance with carrying boats and portaging around the dam was provided by the Georgia Military College ROTC and Kappa Sigma fraternity.

Special thanks to the Sponsors: Blackbird Coffee, Oconee Outfitters, Taylors Restroom 2 go , Good Karma Yoga, Tent-Sational Events, Inc. and Lockerly Arboretum.

“This event drew a lot of attention to this beautiful river and helped highlight the benefits that an established water trail with safe public access and family friendly facilities could bring to the communities along it — from Milledgeville down to Dublin,” Gwyneth Moody, community programs coordinator at Georgia River Network said. “Not only will the water trail boost tourism and economic development, but also improve quality of life by providing recreation opportunities, and promoting a healthy, clean river.”

Georgia River Network has assisted communities throughout the state in the development of water trails (similar to a hiking trail but on a waterway with access points and information kiosks and signage along the route). The Lower Oconee Water Trail is one such trail currently under development in Baldwin County with goals of continued development into Wilkinson, Laurens, Washington, Johnson, Wheeler, Treutlen and Montgomery counties. For more information about the Lower Oconee Water Trail email Georgia River Network Community Programs Coordinator Gwyneth Moody at Gwyneth@garivers.org.

The next Georgia River Network paddling event, Fall Float on the Flint, will take place Oct. 8-10. For more information and to register visit: http://www.garivers.org/paddle_georgia/fallfloat.html.

Enter to win a FREE canoe & gear!

Buy your raffle tickets today for your last chance in 2016 to win an Old Town NEXT canoe with gear!

Flint Riverkeeper and Georgia River Network are excited to offer you the opportunity to win an Old Town NEXT canoe on Sunday, October 9th as part of the Fall Float on the Flint.

Purchase tickets here!–>flintriverkeeper.org/become-a-member

Lower Oconee Hidden Gem Paddle

MARK YOUR CALENDARS PADDLERS! Join @GeorgiaRiverNetwork for a Hidden Gem Paddle & Campout on September 17th and 18th! Come and explore the Lower Oconee Water Trail with your fellow river lovers, and experience a delicious dinner party with a campout after! This paddle includes meals along the route, live entertainment, games, and presentations about river health, history and more! REGISTER HERE: http://LowerOconee.eventbrite.com

Almost Paradise ~ Hump day all the way!

Endurance is an understatement for those paddlers that braved the 22 miles from Jaycee Landing to Paradise Park and Penholloway Creek today.

There were 4 shuttles, not just one, that left at 7AM for the put-in- as EVERYONE wanted to get an early start for the many miles ahead- and to enjoy the cool morning air.

Dana Schroeder and Heather Wilson of Hike Inn paddled past Rayonier which peeked out behind a large containment wall smoke billowing out and becoming white puffy clouds.  The aroma from Rayonier resembled the strong smell of pepper vinegar sauce used on collard greens. A few miles down we passed an ominous thick pipe from which black stinky water bubbled.

I came across James Holland, former Altamaha Riverkeeper in a motor boat and upon interviewing him- a Mullet jumped out of the water, thumping him on the back and landing in our canoe flipping and flopping around- he scooped it up and said “You wanna know what the fish are trying to tell you? ‘I’m trying to get out of this darn water!'”…. to say the least it was pretty hilarious.

We passed the railroad bridge – still in operation and the sunken steamboat paddle wheeler “Gulfmist” –slowly rotting away on it’s side since the 1950’s- probably the last Paddlewheeler to carry lumber down the Altamaha  to Darien .

Tammy Griffin and Lisa Hascal enjoyed blowing healing bubbles to the Altamaha river spirit, while Keith Hascal displayed a dead crab he found on a sanbar.

Locals fisherman Roy Colvin of Waycross and Ted Alexander of Brantley County expressed their surprise at the seemingly never-ending flow of kayaks and canoes passing them as they reclined in their motor boats. They exclaimed they had never seen anything like it!

Not everyone paddle hard the entire 22 miles! Little Emily Sheffield was lulled to sleep by the lullaby of paddle strokes by her older brother and father.

Tiger Swallowtail Butterflies lapped up the sweet nectar from a Buttonbush’s poofy flowers so intently that they disregarded my camera only a foot away. Another beautiful flower seen at the mouths of a few tributaries was the Yellow Pond Lily also attracting many a hungry bug.

Dobson Fly egg cases could be seen attached to the underside of of leaves dangling over the river- in the perfect position to drop right into the water upon hatching.

Everyone stopped for lunch at sandbars midday, but only a few braved the  odorous water for a cool swim.

But despite the limitations, Paddle Georgia peeps can’t help but to make do, keep positive, and enjoy themselves!

After paddling 21 miles, everyone had to dip into their reserve energy supply and paddle the last mile UPSTREAM!

Elliot Lewis popped out of his cockpit-cubby after a nap to help his mom Lisa paddle. His Gatorade smile was precious!

Everyone did fabulously and toughed it out. The Girls Scouts impressed us all as they sprint paddled in to the take out.

We are SO PROUD!

Welcome

Welcome to the Paddle Georgia Participant Forum.  Use the forum to find paddle partners for the trip or organize a carpool to the event.  Use the Boat Share page to locate paddle partners and the Ride Share page for carpools.  Click in the Leave A Comment box to make a post.  Make sure you include your name and contact information so others can contact you directly.