Coastal Georgia’s crown jewel, the Ogeechee River, long has been celebrated for the fishing, boating and outdoor-recreation opportunities it provides to local residents. Soon, though, its appeal will expand as river enthusiasts from all over Georgia — and, perhaps, beyond — come to know and admire this natural resource.
The Ogeechee Riverkeeper recently announced that Paddle Georgia’s 2015 journey will take place on the Ogeechee, a free-flowing blackwater river that spans 245 miles through the swampy bottomlands of Bryan, Bulloch, Screven, Effingham and Chatham counties. The paddle is slated for June 20-26, and regular registration opens today. Spaces fill rapidly, so those who want an up-close glimpse at Coastal Georgia scenery and wildlife are encouraged to sign up at https://regonline.com/paddlega2015 soon after registration begins at 8 a.m.
“Tickets for this seven-day, 90-mile adventure will be released on Paddle Georgia’s website on Feb. 19. Mark your calendars if you’re interested in going because this event will sell out quickly,” Ogeechee Riverkeeper Watershed Outreach Coordinator Jesse Demonbreun-Chapman said.
The cost is $425 for adults, $230 for children ages 8-17 and $30 for children 7 and younger. In addition, a $227.75 meal registration fee ensures participants’ breakfast, lunch and dinner for seven days, including the kick-off day feast and the journey’s end feast. One evening, paddlers will eat on their own at local restaurants; the cost of that meal is not included in the package fee.
River enthusiasts who can’t dedicate a whole week to the trip may be interested in signing up for Paddle Georgia Lite, which includes only the first two days of the journey and costs less. Spaces for Paddle Lite also are limited and will be offered during registration on Feb. 19.
For more information on reserving a Paddle Georgia or Paddle Georgia Lite spot, go to http://www.garivers.org/paddle_georgia/pgregister.html.
More than 350 paddlers are expected to take part in the event, which grows annually in popularity thanks to positive reviews from previous participants, who say Paddle Georgia is unlike anything they’ve done before.
“(It’s) summer camp for grown-ups,” one past paddler said. “I had one of the most remarkable experiences of my life.”
The trek begins at the Rocky Ford boat ramp in Bulloch County and winds, twists and turns through wildlife habitats and natural sites all the way down to Kings Ferry Park in Chatham County.
Attendees don’t need to be paddling experts, but a little experience is needed. Those who are new to the pastime are encouraged to take a basic canoeing or kayaking-instruction class through the Georgia Canoe Association. Learn more about classes offered at http://www.gapaddle.com/.
Paddlers are responsible for bringing their own canoes or kayaks, paddles and personal flotation devices. Gear is limited to 40 pounds and two bags per person. Participants will camp each evening at nearby facilities, such as local schools. Most sites will have shelters, but it’s a good idea to bring tents.
To learn more about Ogeechee Riverkeeper, go to www.ogeecheeriverkeeper.org or call 866-942-6222.