Georgia River Network (GRN), creator of Paddle Georgia, an annual week-long summer canoe/kayak camping adventure, will return to the Flint River this October for its fifth edition of Paddle Georgia Fall Float on the Flint.
The event is set for Oct. 6-8, charting a course from Baconton, just downstream from Albany, to near Bainbridge.
Online registration is now open at http://www.garivers.org/paddle_georgia/fallfloat.html Registration fees are $325 for adults, $280 for children 8-17 and $140 for children 7 and younger. Fees include six catered meals, camping facilities with restrooms and showers, shuttle service, event t-shirt and more.
The trip coincides with continuing efforts to create the Flint River Water Trail, a recreational boating trail spanning the length of the river from near Jonesboro to Bainbridge, as well as efforts to clean up ongoing pollution problems stemming from the City of Albany’s sewage system.
Recently, the city has been plagued by pump failures that have caused spills of raw sewage into the Flint. For years, the city has struggled to control spills that occur when heavy rains cause water to flow into sewer lines and result in overflows into the river. These spills can create unhealthy conditions for those who swim in the river or otherwise come in contact with the water.
“While the river is usually safe for boating, fishing and swimming, these spills create uncertainty for river users,” said Flint Riverkeeper Gordon Rogers. “It is difficult to know when a slug of polluted water is coming down river. This shouldn’t have to be a consideration when planning trips on our river.”
To ensure not only a safe Fall Float, but also better information for all river users all year long, Flint Riverkeeper began weekly monitoring of bacterial levels on the lower Flint, from Albany downstream, in mid-July. The organization plans to continue the monitoring for the foreseeable future including the days leading up to Fall Float and during the journey to provide information about pollution levels to participants.
“This is not a problem that is unique to the Flint," said Joe Cook, Paddle Georgia Coordinator. "It’s a consideration on virtually every river in the state. Part of the purpose of Georgia River Network’s paddle trips is to bring attention to these problems and encourage improvements so that all our rivers are free from pollution 365 days a year.”
This trip highlights one of the most scenic sections of the river, featuring lively shoals, limestone bluffs and beautiful blue hole springs.
In addition to traveling about 16 miles on the river each day, participants will have the opportunity to learn about issues impacting the Flint, take part in water testing programs with Georgia Adopt-A-Stream and learn about the river’s unique fishes and mussels from biologists and scientists. The group will camp for three nights at Rocky Bend Flint River Retreat, a campground located on the river in Newton
The trip is suitable for novice paddlers as well as experienced paddlers. Paddlers range in age from four to 84, with many families participating. In 2017, more than 120 paddlers made the three-day Columbus Day weekend journey.